It’s OK to throw out those kiddie masterpieces
The development of the artistic impulse in new humans is a thing to behold. In early childhood, illustration is usually a happy accident. Toddler X will be chewing absentmindedly on a crayon and inadvertently dribble Blue Poles onto a square of lino.
Toddler Y will eat too much birthday cake and produce a perfect replica of Cy Twombly’s Nine Discourses on Commodus all over the hired party mermaid.
Then, if you’re really lucky, toddlers D, A, M, I, E, N, H, I, R, S and T will stumble upon a 4.3-metre tiger shark and a vitrin of formaldehyde, and voila! Charles Saatchi is flogging their cute little conceptual masterpiece for $8 million.
The point is that most of us regard the art of our immature offspring as sheer genius. Which is why it’s such a dilemma when the time comes to start chucking some of it out.
In the beginning, I kept all my daughter’s Pollock-esque paintings. These included her excitingly avant-garde Yay Mould! impasto series which, years later, is still wet.
So determined was I to support her early doodles that – when her cash-strapped day care centre held a fund-raising “art” auction – I paid good money for mountains more of the stuff.
Unfortunately Alice’s prodigious artistic outputs now vastly outweighs the space available to store it. My ability to muster the requisite enthusiasm for her efforts is also wearing thin.
Wednesday’s abstraction of a cat with breast-shaped knees defecating green love hearts was easy enough to gush over. But I am fatigued by her factory line productions of triangular bodied fairies, lumpy rainbows and partially coloured-in Disney princess print-outs.
“These are for YOU, mummy,” she gushes. “Don’t you LOVE them?”
I’m not mean enough to answer “actually, not so much”. But the truth is that more and more of her masterpieces are now on crumpled display in the Galleria Recycling Bin.
Does this make me a bad parent? According to the internet, yes indeedy. One pro-kiddy-art site goes so far as to claim that offering even generic praise such as “what a pretty picture!” violates childrens’ self esteem.
As such, I’ve decided to support my five-year-old’s nascent aesthetic processes by steering her towards the thrilling world of impermanent art which embraces decay as a means of deconstructing the alienation and social violence caused by the oppressive paradigm of permanent collection.
It won’t take Alice long to work out that such wanky art-speak has as much real-life traction as Santa and the tooth fairy. But perhaps by then she will have discovered the storage-friendly delights of Japanese miniatures.
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