40-50 löpmeter virke per barn
Materials: textile building, photographs and wooden table with research
The photographs are 82 x 64 cm,
digital c-prints in wood frames.
© Camilla Carlsson och John Håkansson
Text from the exhibition at Sinne, Helsinki, 2013
40-50 running meters of timber per child
The exhibition by Camilla Carlsson and John Håkansson explores the world of adventure playgrounds, staffed playgrounds where children build wooden structures, create and shape the play. The first adventure playground opened in Emdrup, Copenhagen, in 1943. This playground, still in use, is called Skrammellegepladsen. The Danish word ‘skrammel’ was translated into ‘junk playgrounds’, later known as ‘adventure playgrounds’. The artists have, since 2008, explored and documented adventure playgrounds in Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
The adventure playground can be seen as a model of influence, as well as an actual site where children have an immediate impact on their environment. The artists’ research includes, among others, one reference called The Model. A model for a qualitative society, a work by Palle Nielsen 1968. This was an adventure playground inside the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The cultural-historical dimensions carry a scent from the '60s-'70s, while the artists’ photographs show well-functioning contemporary adventure playgrounds.
In Sweden, most of the adventure playgrounds have disappeared. Is this due to ideological, economic or safety reasons? Adventure playgrounds concern many areas, such as urban planning, architecture, democracy and pedagogy. What perception of knowledge characterises a society? In what way are children today involved in the processes of planning and shaping the urban space?
How could you make adults see the value of play and the gain of knowledge in adventure playgrounds? In these playgrounds, children learn through experience-based learning in relation to other children and adults. The scale is essential, as well as the time perspective; the wooden structure never ends; it is in a continuous state of transformation. Also, the recycling of materials is an essential issue in our time. The title 40-50 running meters of timber per child is taken from a recommendation written in the ’70s. This recommendation is still relevant.
The activity in an adventure playground has a lot in common with artistic processes – to build up, add, remove, and change, while working with the whole. Many wooden structures, huts or buildings, as well as artworks, can be seen as self-portraits. The artists’ presentation also includes a site-specific construction made of textile and foam plastic. Perhaps one way to enter this exhibition is to remember your own childhood huts or the pillow-room in the 1970s pre-schools. The value of play has a lot to do with imagination, which is more important than the materials or tools used.
In connection with the exhibition, we organise workshops for school classes. Other children keen on building can visit the workshop on Sundays between 1-4 PM.
© John Håkansson