Navigating Dreams, Beam Camp and Matthew Springett Associates, Strafford New Hampshire USA, 2012

To start off your playground dreams for 2013, a starry-eyed project by Matthew Springett Associates of London inspired by a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ ‘Light is like Water’:

“The boys, lords and masters of the house, closed the doors and windows and broke the glowing bulb in one of the living room lamps. A jet of golden light as cool as water began to pour out of the broken bulb, and they let it run to a depth of almost three feet. Then they turned off the electricity, took out the rowboat, and navigated at will among the islands in the house”.

In the story, two young boys who live in an arid city ask for a boat from their parents in return for good grades at school. Their parents buy them a small sail boat, and they imagine sailing on flowing light  rather than the water they lack.

In real life, Beam Camp campers aged 7-17 worked with Matthew Springett to create a land-based boat machine, hidden in a forest like an artifact of the future-past.  The physical act of rowing it sets into motion the constellations suspended in surrounding trees, comprised of individual ‘stars’ created by each of the 88 campers.

It’s difficult to convey how this project works in a series of still photographs.  And it strikes me that this is particularly appropriate for a playscape.  If a playscape can be easily represented as a static space, it probably doesn’t do its job of encouraging motion well enough!  So take the time to view the video below, even though it’s long, to see the kids constructing this precision project over the course of three weeks (I was particularly fascinated by the star-making process) and the dreamy oar-driven movement of the constellations.

I personally ended 2012 utterly exhausted (as evidenced by the lack of posting for the last couple of weeks…sorry!)  But contemplating this project energizes me for a new year of Playscapes, and I hope it inspires those of you that are thinking about and advocating for and making great playgrounds as well.  To greater imagination, to new thinking about motion and its reward, to greater engagement with the world of children and a navigation of their dreams in 2013.

 


Navigating Dreams from Jennifer Lauren Smith on Vimeo.

 


[All photos via Matthew Springett]

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