Woodland Tribe

For two weeks in February The Showroom will host Play Build Dream a project by Woodland Tribe. Children and their families are invited to join and help build their own adventure playground!

Woodland Tribe work to push the potential of adventure play as popular culture in the UK. Supporting existing adventure playgrounds and temporary projects at UK festivals, Woodland Tribe are capturing the public’s imagination with a unique approach to children’s agency and co-production. Taking the best ideas from adventure playgrounds in Denmark, Germany, Japan and the UK, Woodland Tribe are revolutionising playtime, giving children hammers, saws, drills, nails and a huge quantity of wood to build their own adventure playgrounds.

Woodland Tribe events always have an emphasis on constructive play. Children and adults, assisted by Woodland Tribe, use tools and wood to create extraordinary structures and amazing spaces. These co-created environments are non-permanent, full of uncertainty and possibility, always playful, organically changing moment to moment, day to day.

Since their inception in Denmark in the 1940s, adventure playgrounds have been at the front-line of children’s cultural experimentation - laboratories of playful and political resistance. Ignored by the media, outside of mainstream society, adventure playgrounds have drawn interest from art and architecture.

This project and exhibition draws on adventure playgrounds’ heritage of heterodoxy and pays homage to Danish artist and radical activist Palle Nielsen. At the Museum of Modern Art Stockholm in 1968 Nielsen staged The Model, a radical social experiment involving children building an indoor adventure playground. The artist intended to reject an elitist concept of art and art museum through the ‘creation of a collectivist human being.’ Within the ‘exhibition’ the act of children playing was used as an instrument for social and political activism.

Woodland Tribe bring their own complex assemblage of participative art, co-production, children’s rights and community action to The Showroom. This is adventure playground as public art, a play space and exhibition built by children and families then viewed as public and political art. A dynamic visceral exhibition that will evolve during its two-week run.

Adventure playgrounds are primarily seen as children’s spaces. They are indeed very special places for children but they can also be places for adults and the community, a space to come together, to play in a different paradigm, to be different. When Woodland Tribe create a temporary adventure playground there are multiple benefits for the generations of all ages and the whole community.
For children to construct their own play space is a powerful act, an act of agency that is denied elsewhere in society. They then can manipulate, deconstruct and change the environment which reaffirms their rights as active citizen’s and their place in the public realm. This unique opportunity builds an incredible relationship between child and space, a special affordance that goes beyond the relationship between body and environment. By combining hands on construction with the fantasy and imagination of the child’s play the amplified affordance can also incorporate mind, heart and soul.

Woodland Tribe are an experienced collective of creatives and animateurs including; artists, playworkers, film makers, teachers, carpenters and social workers. Woodland Tribe’s Founder Tom Williams who has been at the forefront of the adventure playground movement for over 30 years as a playworker, local authority officer, academic and event organiser. Woodland Tribe are the market leaders in their field. Originally commissioned by Shambala festival in 2014 Woodland Tribe’s reputation and popularity has grown year-on-year, in 2017 curating areas at 9 festivals, including; a month long residency at Brighton Fringe, a five day residency at the Edinburgh Festival, permanent spaces developed over four years at Shambala and Starry Skies, a sold-out area for the third year running at Camp Bestival, a national conference in Bristol with Assemble focusing on the adventure playground movement, ongoing work with schools and communities in Bristol, London and Brighton.

Woodland Tribe place a value on family participation, hands on public art that is highly engaging for the whole family, a blank canvas means everyone can contribute, making something together a rare opportunity for co-production, to have norms and rules playfully disrupted, for adults to revisit moments of their childhood.


Supported by Westminster City Council through the Create Church Street Fund


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