Move, make, colour, create!

Summer at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Delivering free, supported art-making and community creative play sessions inside and out during the summer holidays, to remove barriers to accessing the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and National Galleries of Scotland collection.

Last summer we welcomed community family groups from across the city to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art every weekday during our 4 week summer programme; Move, Make, Colour, Create! These closed, supported morning sessions included a creative exploration of three main artworks, a hands-on activity linked to the NOW exhibition, access to a free bus and a hot lunch for everyone.

Reports last year highlighted the difficulties for families living on low incomes regarding food provision during the school holidays– and the negative impact this has on children’s emotional and physical health. We’re continuing to explore how the National Galleries of Scotland Family Programme might help to alleviate some of this and have added a food element and transport offer to the current community group opportunities during the school holidays and one of the regular monthly drop-in workshops (Walk, Talk, Make).

After an intro to the gallery and an exploration of some of the artworks on display; families were invited to use the play structures outside as a starting point to make colourful art using their bodies. Families could drop-in to different stations, playing with paint on different scales; creating movement spin paintings, pendulum rain paintings, spray paintings and traditional easel paintings. Other materials on hand include correx, cardboard, paper, vinyl, tape, bubbles and chalk pastels- high quality materials to bring the play area to life and think about movement and colour. We were lucky with the weather last summer – and were able to enjoy most of the sessions (and the baked potato lunch!) outside, using our bodies to make art in our specially designed pop-up playground.

These sessions were designed to encourage parents to work with their children, to explore different art-making tools and techniques together- introducing low-cost things that they could also try at home.

The majority of the participants (children, parents and support workers) had never visited an art gallery before. We felt it was key to embed any food provision into the workshop- reducing the stigma associated with food poverty and re-branded fruit as ‘Art Fuel’ – food to fuel the creative process. This worked well alongside the themes in the exhibition and the art activities – we made art with and about our bodies, in relation to some of the exhibiting works – Bridget Riley, Christine Borland and Robin Rhode.


The main aims for this project were:

  • Galleries seen as a fun learning environment
  • Offers opportunities to build confidence in trying out new skills and ideas
  • Gives parents the confidence to bring children back to the galleries unaided- to look at and discuss art
  • Reduce holiday hunger amongst children from low income families in Edinburgh
  • Increase opportunities for low income children, young people and parents to take part in cultural activities together which are fun and educational
  • Reduce the social isolation which can result for children, young people and parents during the school holidays
  • Eliminate the physical barrier for visitors by providing free busses to the gallery 
  • Build collaboration and partnership working across organisations delivering school holiday provision across the city
  • Identify areas of development within the organisation; to reduce and eliminate social and physical barriers to the Galleries

What next?

We’re working on rolling out this format (Art Fuel food, free buses, supported gallery visit and hands-on activities) across the National Galleries of Scotland sites (Portrait, National and Modern) during all of the school holidays throughout the year.

Funded by People’s Postcode Lottery and Heritage Portfolio

Anna Murray
Education Coordinator: Families & Early Years
National Galleries of Scotland
All images courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland