An arty morning at Nottingham Contemporary

Finding activities to do during the summer holidays can sometimes prove difficult. Not spending a fortune is near impossible. So when I find something that is entertaining, educational and free I feel it is my duty to let all parents of school-aged children know about it.

Nottingham is full of brilliant museums and galleries that are free to enter, but the children aren't necessarily interested in looking at paintings or some "dull" sculptures. At Nottingham Contemporary right now there's an installation by Michael Beutler called Pump House. The interesting thing about the installation is that you can walk in, around, and through it. 

The boys and I spent a morning at Nottingham Contemporary recently checking out the Pump House and we had a blast. 

About Pump House

Michael Beutler gathered together a team of local collaborators to help build his installation. He wanted people to work together to create something. Everything in the installation was created with someone's hands, the tools used to help with certain aspects were also hand-made.

Our Day


The rug you see the children sitting on is just one part of the installation, and it was hand made using strips of fabric that have been tied together. While sitting on the rug the children listened to the plan for the morning. The idea was that they would take a large piece of cardboard around with them as they explored the Pump House installation and they were to draw things they were inspired by. LP was excited and I could tell he was eager to get started.

We walked around the installation and within around 30 seconds LP was "inspired". He sat at the chair and wanted to draw it.


While LP drew his chair I looked around and snapped some photos. There were little windows in the wall which I poked my phone through and snapped these photos. The installation is huge and a lot of the things are interesting to see. Like this sofa...



These tables have small creations on them and I loved looking at them, they were so intricate. And below you'll see a cardboard wall with woven pieces of cardboard. Some of the things I saw I couldn't believe had been hand made.


Once we'd walked around and LP had finished we headed back to the rug so LP could colour in his drawings. He asked me to help so I ended up colouring in too!


After everyone had finished colouring the children brought all their cardboard pieces together and tried to build. The idea was that they create something by working together and both LP and BP enjoyed this part. 

When all the pieces were put together the little ones tried to climb inside and we could hear giggles as they found smaller spaces.

Next came taking the cardboard apart and all the children enjoyed this part as they tried to work out how to take the cardboard apart without tearing it.


After everyone had fun with the cardboard we headed downstairs to have fun making our own creations for Michael Beutler to use in his next commission. First up was sticking two sheets of paper together to create our paper teabags. LP enjoyed this part because it was quite messy. While we waited for the glue to dry the boys were invited to try out other activities.

From wrapping sticks in twine...


To creating small items related to the sea using clay.


After having fun with the clay we went back to the paper teabags to finish our creations and then placed them on top of the pile with the others.


The morning was filled with exciting arty activities that were completely free and the boys had a great time. So much so that BP felt he needed to relax in the "chill out" area.


Nottingham Contemporary are running a Play Factory throughout summer for you and your children to enjoy. It is free and runs Tuesday - Sunday 11am-3pm. It is closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays. Why not stop by, enjoy the installation and have some arty fun!

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