Why no child is ever ‘too young’ to experience art

Long before my daughter was born and long before I had even met my husband I vowed to myself that if I had a child I would ensure I exposed her to art at an early age.

I would read to her from my favourite works, play Marriage of Figaro as I rocked her to sleep and wander around art galleries to take in the latest exhibition.

Th reading thing is going… well, it’s going OK. I managed to read Charlotte’s Web to G when she was around four months. It took a few weeks but I eventually got there in the end. The only reason I even managed to get through the book is because G couldn’t yet crawl, so she was kinda stuck there and forced to listen to me. Now it’s a little harder – G wont sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time. And, when it comes to literature, she tends to prefer the pop-up kind.

The music is going a lot better. Right now I’m partial to blasting Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 and having a dance around the house with G. We giggle, we twirl and we faux conduct. I’ll also blast some George Michael and usually when my husband comes home we’ll play some truly terrible (but SO ADDICTIVE) 80s hits. We all go a bit mad and run and jump around the house. The entire place is filled with laughter and music, the very kind of home I want my daughter to be raised in.

And then there’s the art. I started taking G to exhibitions when she was around six months old. The first one I took her to was at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and showcased Andy Warhols’ advertising art before he hit the big time and became known for his pop art.

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Me and G at the Andy Warhol exhibit.

Then we went to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria.

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The truly incredible Van Gogh exhibit. G was asleep at the start but magically woke up when we got to the really juicy stuff.

Then there was her namesake – Georgia O’Keefe – again at the NSWAG. This has probably been my favourite experience so far. G had just mastered walking and was on the run already. The exhibit was relatively empty so we took her out of the pram and let her run and crawl around. It was so beautiful and moving watching her crawl and walk around the art works and even stopping to stare at them. She even had a little dance.

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G tearing up the gallery floor!

Then we took her to the recent Rembrandt and the Dutch Masters exhibit at the NSWAG (which is still on).

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I ended up getting a double ticket deal to take G to the Museum of Contemporary Art because I’d seen photos from the Pipilotti Rist exhibit and thought it would be something she would adore. Spoiler alert: She did.

The only issue? Yeah, it’s not really that kid friendly. Elements of it were fantastic, but it’s way too tempting for a child.

When I’ve told some people about taking G to art galleries their response has been, “but she’s too young for that, she won’t appreciate it”. Too young for art? Bitch please, you can never be too young or too old for art.  Heck, I was reading Howl to G when she was just six weeks old. She might not have had any clue what I was saying, but the cadence of the poetry is hypnotic and like all good art, is created in a way to hit you emotionally. For good art you don’t need to think, you will feel it.

My take is this, the memories of the art will seep into her consciousness and slide into her dreams. Like a drop of milky Absence floating into a cup of water. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind G will have stored the landscapes of Cezanne, Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Georgia O’Keef’s rams head, and the twisted rainbow of Pipilotti Rist’s tech dreams.

It’s the best education I know.