“Wow, it looks just like my living room,” I quipped, as we approached the “mountain of toys” that opens the Jurasic Plastic art space. I immediately feel certain the volunteers have heard this joke a hundred times today.
It’s a strange feeling, encountering this bright, whimsical space where Happy Meal style toys have been sculpted into dinosaurs and lakes. It’s whimsical. It’s fun. It’s overwhelming. It’s heartbreaking. Plastic toys are play for a short time, and yet they can’t be recycled, and they last forever. And, there are just so many of them. So, so many of them.
As a socio-political statement, Jurasic Plastic works. And, as a family experience, it works, too.
The dinosaur sculptures immediately caught Mini’s imagination, with lots of “that’s amazing”s and “look at that”s. We spent 10 minutes or so making a look around the room, inspecting each sculpture, noting toys we recognized, and generally marveling. But then, as you might expect, it was the piles (literal piles) of free standing toys available for play that accounted for most of our time there.
It was fascinating watching her interact with so many toys. She’d occasionally push a car across the aisle or wind up a switch, but more than anything, she just dug, inspected, showed me the ones that really interested her, put it down, and went back to excavating. She could have done it all day. And, isn’t that just the point? We’re never going to have enough stuff to satisfy us. We just keep on looking.
In addition to exploring the exhibit, I also booked her in for a one-hour Makerspace workshop ($26 plus booking fee). The children get to use pieces of old toys to create a new sculpture of their own, in the spirit of Jurasic Plastic artist Hiroshi Fuji.
There were three teaching artists leading the session, which began with a group talk about toys and their environmental impact, as well as imagination and creation. The kids then each sat at a station where they had some toys and fasteners to work with, plus an assortment of more toys to choose from. The group leaders helped the kids flesh out their ideas and work on the logistics. At the end, the parents were invited into the space (we sat right outside) to see the creations and take photos.
The Makerspace workshops are designed for ages 6 – 12, though I was sneaky and booked me *almost* five year old in, as I suspected she’d be able to keep up. She did well, but I wouldn’t suggest it for children any younger. You know your children best – they need to be able to focus and work more or less independently on one task without a parent present for an hour. If your kids are keen makers, I can suggest this workshop highly. Mini loved it, and I could tell she felt a real sense of accomplishment at her creative work.
Artelier workshops are also available for children to work as assistants to a professional artist on creating a new dinosaur sculpture.
Whether you attend a workshop or visit for free, Jurasic Plastic is an experience that nearly everyone can appreciate. You may never look at your toy pile the same way again, and that’s probably a good thing.
This review is independent and self-funded.
Jurasic Plastic runs through 28 January at Town Hall
Full information on the website
Admission is free. Workshops for ages 6 – 12 are $26 and bookings are required.
Queues for free admission can be quite long. Staff told us that first thing in the morning and late afternoon are quieter times, with midday the busiest. If you do book a workshop, you get the advantage of skipping the queue.
Oh, and there’s plenty of hand sanitizer available!