“Child’s Play” is the latest exhibition from British artist Mark Neville opening at The Foundling Museum, London in early February. The exhibition features a series of images of children at play in diverse environments around the world and aims to raise awareness and generate debate around the complex nature of child’s play and to advocate for improved provision for this universal right.
Renowned for his socially focused projects which are often based upon research by expert sociologists, Mark works at the intersection of art and documentary investigating the social function of photography. For Child’s Play Mark immersed himself in communities from Port Glasgow to North London and in the war zones of Afghanistan and Ukraine. The project focuses on internally displaced children in Ukraine, residents of Kakuma, Kenya’s second largest refugee camp as well as depictions of children at play in London adventure playgrounds, all made especially for this project.
The resulting images are of children in beautiful moments of free, spontaneous play. At a time when up to 13 million children have been internally displaced as a result of armed conflict, and traditional public space is being privatised, Child’s Play reinforces the responsibility we have to ensure that children the world over have full opportunity for play and recreation.
Child’s Play brings together an exhibition of large framed C type matt and black and white fibre prints, a symposium and a book by Neville which presents the images from the exhibition along with an overview of the groundbreaking work in the field of child’s play. The book will seek to raise awareness of this universal right, and also focus attention on attitudes towards play in the UK and how the conditions for children can be improved. Copies of the book will be disseminated free to key policy makers and government departments, experts in the field, and to each of the UK’s 433 local councils, in order to directly impact upon government policy thinking and strategy.
Mark Neville commented, ‘The Foundling Museum is an extremely powerful context in which to explore and examine this barely discussed, yet fundamental human right: the right of the child to play. The Foundling has a long and an unparalleled history of working with artists in order to improve the rights of vulnerable children. We aim to use the Museum as a space for debate and an instrument for social change. By addressing the issues through three symbiotic strategies – an exhibition at the Museum, a hardback photobook with a targeted dissemination, and a symposium – we believe we can really make an impact on this forgotten right.”
For more information about the exhibition