KINSHIP’s first project, at Upper Tibetan Children’s Village, the school founded by Madame Jetsun Pema La, sister to HH Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala (INDIA) was initiated by founding member and current Chair, Tansy Troy, after she spent six months at the village teaching Visual Arts to the Infant Section in 2004. She returned a year later to run more creative workshops with the children and young trainee teachers.
Nine months later, a KINSHIP team of artists and engineers (David Little, Matt Shaw, Fred Labbe and Hester Dennett) spent several weeks redeveloping the Infant Playground space with the blessing of Madam Jetsun Pema La after lengthy observation, consultation and practical, playful workshops with Infant children, Village teachers and staff.
Matt Shaw, KINSHIP team engineer and Early Years practitioner, wrote about how the visit gave him ‘a chance to share skills and experience as an artist and educator; and apply these to a worthwhile project […] The whole process was about getting the community to come up with their own ideas.’
David Little, who designed a model for the future playground according to the ideas contributed by children and staff, described the children as ‘hungry for new ways to play, and new stuff to play with – their energy was astounding!’
The project was completed in 2006.
In 2007, Tansy was invited to run music workshops at schools in Abu Dis, a suburb of Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the Wall. Pretty soon, it became clear that the children of Abu Dis needed more than just music to see them through their troubled times. A creative, playful dialogue was established, with mask-making and having fun top of the agenda.
In 2009, Matt was invited by the Madagasee embassy to begin a playful conversation with the children and community of rural Andafiatsimo. He made two visits, and the documentary film for KINSHIP, Throwing Sticks at Mangoes resulted.
That same year, Tansy made a preliminary visit to Druk Pema White Lotus School in Ladakh (India). The school, founded by the Galwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa lineage and funded by the Drukpa Trust is designed by Arup Architects: thus did Tansy’s ‘Design for an Ideal Playground’ workshops take place in a state-of-the-art Art Room over five weeks during the summer months.
David and Matt visited the school in April 2010 to begin constructive consultations with staff and students, before Tansy’s return in August 2010 with Will Embliss, Musician and Instrument Maker. He planned to make and install giant playground instruments, and was just getting setting about it when tragically, huge floods hit Ladakh, creating enormous structural damage throughout the region and much loss of life.
KINSHIP was on the ground for its first ever natural disaster. Will spent much of the rest of his stay organising impromptu singing with the shell-shocked Druk Pema community, while Tansy, unable to reach the school now that the road had been washed away, set up KINSHIP camp close to Leh with the children made homeless by the floods.
This year, in August 2013, Will and students from the Royal Academy of Music have been invited to complete the playground instrument project for KINSHIP in Druk Pema School. Watch this space for details of their journey.