Discover the homes of animal-architects
experiment Chinese calligraphy
attempt to weave with natural material
design a flipbook…
… it’s just a random selection from the wide range of activities in the ABC-studios. The mobile ABC-studio is a travelling interactive exhibition/library, consisting of specially designed ‘play and workstations’. Each ‘station’ is equipped with books, special play/construction materials and visuals, and invites you to discover, explore, play, craft, reflect, etc, freely and unrestrained. A wealth of materials, a feast for the senses, mind and heart.
The themes of the mobile studios are very diverse and interdisciplinary, and are usually developed in collaboration with the guest organiser. In this way, ABC has created studios on architecture & design, nature & aesthetics, visual poetry and visual music, surrealism… But also about the culture of Nepal or China, the period of the Italian Renaissance, or around inspirational artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Hans Arp, Joan Miró and Dick Bruna… ABC regularly creates -sometimes by request- new themed studios.
The mobile studios can cover an area from 150 m2 up to 1000 m2. ABC-employees welcome school children (from 4 years), teachers or youth workers in training, families, and all who want to hold on to their wonder and curiosity…
“The little artists of living, learn and play from a constant amazement of materials, colors and shapes. One pollinated oasis in the sterile chaos of everyday.”
(Paul Demets in KNACK on the ABC-studio)
“The biggest problem is not what gets forgotten, but what becomes worn: need, desire, memories, physical desire, curiosity, enthusiasm, joy, generosity, it all becomes worn out.”
(Amos Oz, writer)
An overview of themes/approaches around and from which ABC mobile-studios have developed since 2001
Studio Visual Music
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) is without a doubt one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His fascinating sculptures made him a pioneer of modernism and even today are a source of inspiration for numerous artists. But apart from being a sculptor, he was also an extraordinary photographer who left behind a lesser-known but wonderful oeuvre. EUROPALIA was bringing Brancusi to Belgium for the very first time with a large exhibition in BOZAR.
ABC STUDIO BRANCUSI was developed as part of the exhibition and forms a separate space in the exhibition where young and old can browse books, explore and discover the sculptor in themselves. There are also interactive play- and work-stations, a story stage and installations to get started yourself.
A creative resource centre on visual literacy & creative storytelling. ABC has collected a wealth of books, visuals, ideas and inspiring materials around language games, reading and (visual) storytelling. Typography, calligraphy, optical illusion, visual poetry and book making are just a few of the elements on offer to play with language/stories, experiment with image and the many combinations between.
The ABC Transbook-studio is all at once a library, exhibition and workshop. Anyone from 6 years of age can either freely or with supervision work creatively with paper sculptures, storyboards, poster design, haiku, print sets, bookmarks and much more. A feast for the senses, mind and heart.
ABC presented the studio during the International Literature festival Passa Porta in March 2017
STEAM Studio Arts & Science Lab
Playful discovery in the arts and sciences is, since the beginning of ABC, a main principle in our activities.
At the moment, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM, are high on the education agenda. And yet in this regard it is lacking the arts as an essential element: STEM + ARTS = STEAM. In many common areas of these different domains, we show the creative parallel world between artists and scientists. Intensive research combined with intuitive thinking is just one example.
Numerous interactive modules on astronomy, architecture, mathematics and digital techniques poetically give many new insights into the various interactions. Through stories we unlock the experimentation and curiosity of ‘uomi universali’ just as Leonardo da Vinci, Ibn Sina, Galileo Galilei and archaeologist Mary Anning. In this way, we hope that schools that work around STEM (will) be inspired by our ideas and materials to go beyond the traditional transfer of knowledge. Storm op Komst Turnhout March 2016 ABC-house January 2017 – June 2018
Studio Mon(s) Idéal (Mons 2015)
From the Arab Spring to the gladiator revolt in ancient Rome, the suffragettes, Argentine mothers, Indignados, etc, anywhere in the world and throughout time, people gather together to make their voices heard and to stand up for their rights, dreams and ideals. In the ABC-studio “Mon(s) Idéal”- a combination workshop, exhibition and library, we will take you through the turbulent history of protest marches and parades. Through revolutionary songs, films, visuals, books, etc, you’ll find out all about artistic rebels like the Dadaists, the anti-apartheid movement, or the Paris of ’68, just to give a few examples. Both young and old can indulge in numerous activity-stations to prepare for their personal parade: print graffiti stencils, disguise yourself as a sandwich-board man, make your own megaphones, make protest hats and banners, practice the Toyi Toyi protest dance… But just as nice, together we philosophize about what we can do to make this world better, and why there will continue to be protests today and tomorrow. After visiting the studio you are ready for the real thing, the great Mons-Manifestation on 28 November. Get up, stand up!
Mons Théatre Royal / Salle des Redoutes (November 2015)
Design is everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda and philosophy.- Erik AdigardAbout everything around us is designed: objects, buildings, websites, systems, cars, fashion, games, etc. In this studio, we explore the aesthetic, economic and socio-political dimensions of design and we seek out whether form really always follows function. In addition to the history of classic design and design icons that changed the world, we focus on the pioneers of green, sustainable design and the ethical codes of social design. Based on the ’10 principles of good design’ the visitors begin their own design process, balancing between art and design. Of course we get to work in different ABC workshops ourselves: The art of packaging, graphic design, 3D printing and paper engineering, creating toys, jewelery, fashion, chairs and lamps… In a philosophical moment, we also reflect on the various options for ‘designing’ our own life.
ABC-house Brussels (2013 -15)
The first Miffy (Nijntje) book came out in 1955. Since then, the famous rabbit has captured the hearts of children around the world. Dick Bruna (°1927) is the creator of Miffy. In addition, the designer also enjoys international fame with his remarkable designs for the acclaimed paperback series Black Bears of A.W. Bruna Publishers.
This studio introduces you to his life and work (including his groundbreaking book covers), and you can playfully make his simple but superb language of color and form your own. (see also Publications/Get Inspired)
Guest in Mechelen (Cultural Centre) (2012)
A collection of ideas to construct toys yourself with mostly recyclable materials from the everyday environment. Inspired by various artists, in this studio we share our fascination with this universal cultural heritage because of its timeless magic, creative spirit and ingenuity, its poetic power and its particular aesthetic qualities.
In Venice (at the Biennale, Belgian Pavilion) and Buda Kortrijk (2012) + The Warande Turnhout (2012), Vormingscentrum Destelheide (2012), Concert-hall Brugge (2013), CC De Ploter Ternat (2014),
As part of the exhibition, “Joan Miró, The lyrical painter,” ABC developed a number of activity stations where both children and adults can immerse themselves in the life of Miró, his inspirations, his colour palette and his artistic style. In “Miró’s dream studio” you can get to work with found objects and some inspiring materials. Constellation drawings, collages, making sculptures and prints, creating a wall mosaic or making your own poetic “artist book”…
In the ING center/Brussels (2011) (on the occasion of the Miro-exhibition ‘The lyrical painter’)
For this project, ABC focused on surrealism, an art movement of the early 20th century in which spontaneity, chance and games took the upper hand over the rational. Young visitors take-off with the work of Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Hans Arp, Paul Delvaux and Marcel Broodthaers. They learn to work in the spirit of these artists, through collages, rubbings, photograms, etc. In addition to the imagination of the children, there are surrealist parlor games, books, poetry, films and stories to stimulate them to discover and interpret surrealism in a personal way.
ABC-house, Brussels (2011-12) and C-mine Genk (2013)
Illusion of movement:
A selection of optical tricks, games, toys and paintings open a fascinating world of artistic imagination. A visual frolic and crafting fun for kids of all ages!
At the Anima-festival, Flagey Brussels (2010)
The China studio consists of some thirty ‘do and play stations’ built around different themes: land, people, fauna & flora, religion, art, science, eating habits, and so on. We start from the question of how children’s lives would be like if they were born in China: where would they live? what language would they speak? what would they eat? etc.
You can dream away with one of the beautiful photo books, play with puppets in the Chinese puppet theatre, create your own household deity, or perhaps you fancy yourself a terracotta warrior or moving with the shadowboxers in the park in Beijing… There is also much to thank the Chinese civilization for, such as silk, paper and the compass; these also get a prominent place in this studio.
During Europalia China, ABC-house Brussels (2010)
In this studio you will discover the history of flight, from the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon to the first man on the moon, via Da Vinci’s inventions and flying art of Bruegel or Panamarenko. You will get acquainted with the mythology of Icarus and Pegasus, with angels and witches, the world of birds, flying fish, UFOs and water rockets. A selection of books, movies and music unveil the ancient human dream to fly.
ABC-house, Brussels (2010-11)
Studio Dante/Renaissance- ABC of Paradise
The voyages of discovery, inventions and humanist thought of the Renaissance changed our lives in significant ways. In this studio, we invite the audience on a journey through one of the most fascinating periods in European history: the culture of the 14th to the 16th centuries. A trip to the beginning of our modern culture still remains a fascinating exploration of ourselves. Enjoy the renowned paintings and illustrations focusing on the Divine Comedy and discover the impressive architecture of Florence. Make drawings using a perspective mirror, fold your own hell or make a peep box with Renaissance figures. In the audio station, listen to marvelous Gregorian chants and polyphonic Renaissance music, and on the poetry wall you can leave a love poem in terza rima…
KunstenfestivaldesArts (KFDA) (Arts Festival)/Les Brigittines in Brussels (2009) and the ABC-house (2012-13)
At the request of Heritage Brussels/VGC, ABC developed a new interactive studio about the period from 1945-65: Studio 50s. The Brussels world expo is the starting point, but visitors also get a broader picture of the postwar period. The belief in progress, trust in science, a wealth of new materials and products, new trends in art and of course the influx of American culture (music, film, food, etc) were all typical of the 50s. Studio 50s lets you experience the changing times using all kinds of making, reading, viewing, listening and dance activities.
After a warm-up on the mini-golf course, visitors are directed to the different stations to get started: make a collage of a typical 50s-interior, build your own Atomium with raisins or potatoes, draw inspiration from the abstract painters, tie a neck-tie, shape a 50s pompadour, or follow a crash course in the twist or rock ‘n’ roll… With each activity we provide books, movies or music with more information about these optimistic old days.
ABC-house Brussels (2008)
Nature & Aesthetics
Weaving with natural materials, creating a mini-greenhouse in a plastic bottle, making thumb cinema with the phases of the moon, making your own bird houses or a stove that works on solar power… In this studio you will discover a natural world, including how creatively you can interact with nature and the extent to which artists are/have been inspired by structures and patterns in nature.
If you put algae on diafilm you get to see beautiful scenery and in a real microscope laboratory you will discover the secrets of a snowflake, a lock of hair, onion cells, etc. A collection of nostalgic children’s books about the four seasons effortlessly withstand the test of time, and poetic kamishibai stories sing the praises of “mother nature.”
Le Colysée de Lambersart France (2007-08)
‘Les Tours du Monde’: ABC Building Workshop/Tower Studio
Who doesn’t know the secret joy of destruction? Children certainly often seem to find more pleasure in destroying than building their structures. In this ABC-building workshop they can do both to their hearts content. Pagodas, domino-towers, the tower of Pisa, obelisks, towers of cooking pots or flower pots, coins, buttons, stones, ping pong balls, cards, tubes or people… you name it, we’ll build it in this ‘tower studio’. Or destroy it, whichever applies… We’ll also discover the story of the legendary Tower of Babel and at the same time, admire many different works of art. Wind experiments on a tower, skyline collage designs, remodel a lighthouse into a nightlight, … just a few examples of the wide range of doing, playing and telling activities.
‘Les Tours du Monde “- ABC-building workshop/Tower Studio in Soleil du Nord, Schaarbeek (2007)
For the occasion of the Time-festival, ABC designed a studio in which the spirit of Maurice Maeterlinck comes to life. Based on selected books, reproductions of paintings, films and music from that period, the young and old go (far) astray into the typical late 19th century atmosphere of mysticism and symbolism. The daily life (games, education, clothing) of children will also be taken into consideration. A visit to this studio is also coupled with the expo “Schets of schim” (Outline or shadow) in the Dr. Guislain museum; they follow the fascinating relationship between the subconscious and architecture as the basis for their exhibition. There is, in the best ABC tradition, plenty of experimentation and tinkering, such as making all kinds of ‘house-faces’ and masks with cardboard boxes… In the workshop you can also design the kind of water-spitting monsters you sometimes find on churches intended to keep out evil spirits. ABC ‘Magic Houses’ also provides an overview of the impressive funeral culture from our own and other cultures: dolmens, rock tombs, catacombs, pyramids, burial chambers, burial ships of the Vikings, grave tower, temples and mosques, etc. With big blocks you can build the famous Taj Mahal or the Egyptian pyramids or design your own mausoleum. Bizarre house-haunting spirits, guardians, demons, and gnomes inhabit delicious dark kamishibai-stories.
Time festival Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent (2007)
The studio class is an open, creative learning environment in which the power and beauty of architecture is central. Through play, building and work materials, a selection of multilingual books, pictures and new media teach children to look more consciously at space and decor. ABC stimulates them to take a closer look at their own environment and to gain inspiration for change. The library includes specialized literature on architecture and the design of schools or playgrounds, and about participation in the design process. The specifically designed modular wooden furniture encourages independent learning and makes the studio itself an aesthetic experience.
Vlaamse Bouwmeester, Baudouin building Brussels (2007)
In collaboration with the province of Flemish Brabant, the studio class was a guest in many small cultural centers, from Halle, to Ternat, Overijse, Vilvoorde, Leuven, Bierbeek and others. (2008)
The ABC animal studio stimulates all your senses with activities such as: animal architecture, shadow animals, animal yoga postures, and animal stories and fables. If you can’t get enough, go to the workshop to fold origami animals, make wire sculptures, or design animal masks… Let the beast go!
Antwerp Open, Dominican Church Antwerp (2007-2008), The Zomer van Antwerpen (2012), CC Westrand Dilbeek (2013), Museum M Leuven (2013), Hallen van Schaerbeek (2014), Turnhout Storm op komst festival (2014)
Amidst the large exhibition ‘Eternal Energy. 1500 years of Indian Art’ at the Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (Palace of Fine Arts)/BOZAR, ABC set up an interactive studio around the many rich and diverse cultures of this fascinating country. Accompanied by a guide, children and adults experience Indian lifestyles, art and history, first hand: building your own Taj Mahal or stupa, dancing with your hands, playing traditional games, trying yoga exercises, or making and tasting a classic herbal tea. The numerous activity stations will stimulate all the senses. A sensual and playful journey to a magical place. In collaboration with BOZAR STUDIOS.
The architecture studio is an interactive exhibition where children and adults playfully reflect on and even get to work on themes such as ‘housing’, ‘myself and the world’, ‘urban-rural’, ‘the inside and outside space…’. In the architecture studio you can reconstruct an igloo, Stonehenge or the Atomium, design a dream landscape or a perfect square, draft a Japanese garden, discover the housing and living habits in different cultures, study the inventive constructions of animal architects and much more. In the school context, small groups are accompanied by an ABC-guide on a sensory and creative exploration.
The studio has been a guest at Soleil du Nord and ‘De Fabriek’ Brussel (current ABC-house) (2005), the Carré-Rotondes in Luxembourg, C-mine in Genk (2010), Festival van de Creativiteit (The Festival of Creativity) Turnhout (2012), Mons Cultural Capital (2015)
Studio Art Nouveau
How did people live about 100 years ago? What form did the furniture take? In what color were the carpets made? Which wallpaper fueled the dreams of our grandmothers and grandfathers when they were children? Studio Art Nouveau invites young and old to set up a pop-up paper room in the style of Victor Horta. A comprehensive catalog of facades, furniture, lamps, rugs, etc is available. You can also design a jewelry box or a floral sculpture. A workbook full of ideas and tips lets you dream more about this elegant architecture style at home.
Studio Art Deco and Modernism
A mini-studio for the occasion of Heritage Day. Entirely in the spirit of the 20s and 30s, children, as interior architects, can decorate their own pop-up room with Art Deco furniture, carpets and wallpaper. In addition to tinkering, they can rummage in the listening, movie and book corner where the era of the charleston and jazz comes to life thanks to the visuals, music and dance from the roaring twenties.
BOZAR and Flagey in Brussels (2005)
The MediaLab is a place where you can playfully experiment with the infinite possibilities of moving images and sound. In various active stations and under the supervision of an ABC-guide, you’ll be introduced to the basics of animation, sound effects, paper film and shadow theater. Just like the illustrious inventors of cinema, everyone from five years and up can work with the wonderful world of optical illusion, dioramas, flip books, thaumatropes, and other obscure ‘artefacts’.
You will discover the techniques and the angelic patience of the animator, make a storyboard, piece together a 3D setting and figures for your movie. With a motley collection of objects, there are many different audio landscapes in the sound effects studio to dream up. If you squeeze a tissue filled with flour you hear footsteps in the snow… The MediaLab provides a surprising and surprisingly simple re-discovery of the audiovisual media, from past to present.
In ‘De Fabriek’ Brussel (the current ABC-house) (2004-06), and in de Warande Turnhout (2006)
A special occasion-studio based on ‘colors’ that includes making your own rainbow with a small mirror in water or with a candle and a feather learning to play a rainbow melody on the xylophone, dancing with rainbow ropes discovering why rainbows are half-circles…
In the ABC Flower Power garden, multicolored butterflies flutter around and the magic of the Wizard of Oz takes you far “over the rainbow”…
For the Gaucheret street party (2005), and “de Zeekaravaan” family festival in Ostend (2007)
With this special occasion studio, at the request of and in cooperation with the Cultural Centre St. Niklaas, ABC brings the art and culture of the fascinating country of Nepal closer to home. Children from 4 years and up can begin experimenting in different activity stations with all sorts of materials, shapes, colors, techniques, smells, etc: butter made the Nepalese way, dancing only with your hands, listening to adventures about Mount Everest and its famous Yeti, designing a Mandala… Studio Nepal was part of the exhibition, “Ghurra’s Goden uit de Himalaya- Nepalese volkskunst (Ghurra’s Gods of the Himalayas- Nepali folk art).”
Stadsfeestzalen St.Niklaas (2004)
Studio Arp: Arp Basics for Children
In the context of the exhibition “Jean Arp, The invention of the form,” ABC devised an interactive installation about abstract art. You could – just like Arp – drop cut-out paper shapes, then form them into a painting, make collective collages with other visitors, design wood relief or sculpt with clay. The mini-studio was part of the exhibition. With the workbook, ‘Selon les lois du hasard (According to the laws of fate)’, you could continue to work at home.
BOZAR, Brussels (2004)
Van Ostaijen, Appollinaire, E. E. Cummings, Dotremont and many others provide the necessary inspiration to creatively and visually pounce on the alphabet. Word and letter collages, Chinese calligraphy, making mail art or poetry albums, trying out the haiku rules, giving shape to your own thematic poem… Language as a feast for the eyes.
BOZAR/Brussels (2003 & 2004), KMSKA Antwerp (2005), Namur (2012), Storm op komst Turnhout (2013), among others.
ABC of dance
The ABC of dance offers children all sorts of materials and sensory stimuli urging them to dance and move. In the process, children from infancy to adolescence enrich their take on dance and body experience. Even when you are not moving, there is quite a lot bubbling in your body. Indian hand dancing; the Bauhaus artist, Oscar Schlemmer’s, colourful approach to dance; breakdance; folk dance; the dance movements of boxer, Muhammad Ali; the greeting rituals in various cultures: they all have a place in ABC of dance. But dance is not only reserved for people. Even animals, snowflakes, dust particles and cells ‘dance’. Dance transforms an everyday movement into a magical moment.
In connection with ROSAS XX, an exhibition about twenty years of ROSAS, in BOZAR (2002)
Commissioned by Villa Kakelbont, formerly “Iedereen Leest” (“Everybody reads”), ABC has designed a special dream route for the opening of Jeugdboekenweek (Children’s Book Week). A journey where the boundary between reality and imagination is delightfully vague and fickle, thanks to literature and the arts; there are books to look at, to touch, to dream away with. But in the ABC-Dream route, you can also design your ‘dream catcher’, draw and paint in the dark, build a dream landscape in sand, etc. ‘La Machine des Rêves (The Machine of Dreams)’ reveals its secrets once and for all, and you can explore the favorite bedtime stories of famous children’s authors. As in all dreams, you’ll fall into this unique journey with one pleasant surprise after another.
In the workshops of La Monnaie in Brussels (2001)