An Architecture of Play – Nils Norman

'An architecture of play: a survey of London's adventure playgrounds', Nils Norman, Four Corners Books, 2003.

‘An architecture of play: a survey of London’s adventure playgrounds’, Nils Norman, Four Corners Books, 2003.

This small book by the artist Nils Norman greatly inspired our interest in adventure play.

‘An architecture of play’ records 59 adventure playgrounds in London with texts, photographs and drawings. Many of the playgrounds mentioned were first established in the early 1970’s, including Somerville Adventure Playground where we are currently working. Nils Norman’s introduction is followed by two short texts: ‘Towards a history of adventure playgrounds 1931-2000’ by Keith Cranwell, and ‘The vernacular of play’ by Paul Claydon. In the book Nils Norman describes London’s early adventure playgrounds as, ‘…embodying “the spirit of adventure play”, a phrase that evokes a creative, anarchic, children-led playscape’.


Day-trip to Somerville Adventure Playground

Somerstown Adventure Playground day-trip to Somerville Adventure Playground, July 2013 (Image: Delta Arts)

Somerstown Adventure Playground day-trip to Somerville Adventure Playground, July 2013 (Image: Delta Arts)

Today we took our group of children and playworkers from Somerstown Adventure Playground in Portsmouth to visit Somerville Adventure Playground in London.

They were welcomed by children, young people, families and staff at Somerville as a continuation of our PLAYAWAY project. It was a chance to explore the other playground, make new friends and learn about how the two parks are run. We enjoyed a barbeque, experimented with a head cam, and tried out some fun activities designed to map the park and share reactions. Somerville will make a reciprocal visit to Portsmouth in August. PLAYAWAY is supported by the Big Lottery Fund.






PLAYAWAY: A video project about play

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Delta Arts is running an exchange between two very different adventure playgrounds in Portsmouth and London.

We have asked Abigail Gilchrist and Hannah Blackmore to run a series of sessions at Somerstown Adventure Playground on Portsmouth’s Somerstown estate and Somerville Adventure Playground in New Cross. Abigail and Hannah are using a range of cameras, including a miniature head-cam, to explore play with the children, and to find out how the communities value their adventure playgrounds. Delta Arts members Amy Lloyd and Oliver Sumner are managing the project and supporting the sessions. We are all getting to know the children, families, volunteers and playworkers at the two sites, and looking forward to bringing them together with a coach visit to each playground in the next few weeks. The resulting film will be screened in London and Portsmouth later in the year.

Landing Place: the local in the international – engage International Conference 2012 Cardiff

Beirut: Golden Threads

engage International Conference 2012
Venues across Cardiff
6 & 7 November, fringe events on 5 November

Next week Oliver Sumner and Samar Maakaron will be representing Delta Arts at the engage conference in Cardiff. They will present an insight into Delta Arts’ new book on the Golden Threads series of artist-to-artist research fellowships. Golden Threads explored the social role for artists in Beirut, Copenhagen and London. It set out to challenge artists’ practices by placing the socially local concerns that informed them into different cultural contexts internationally. The resulting book records the collective discourse that took place between the artists, including the local concerns of social / participatory practices and the role of self-organised international networks.

A Double Book Launch yesterday at The Showroom, London

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had an excellent evening at The Showroom yesterday, where we launched our Golden Threads book alongside Andrea Francke’s Invisible Spaces of Parenthood manual. The event began in The Showroom’s current exhibition The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON, and was interrupted by an interactive performance by Golden Threads fellowship artists Townley and Bradby. Brooms fitted with bicycle bells (in adult and child sizes) swept the guests upstairs for some Lebanese zaatar, a drink and a short Golden Threads discussion. Lawrence Bradby of Townley and Bradby talked about being an artist and parent, the visibility of children and parents in public space, and experiences of meeting artist families in Denmark through Golden Threads.

Launch of our Golden Threads book at the Showroom, London

Golden Threads (English edition)
Price: £4.95 plus p+p

Double Book Launch
24 October, 6.30–8.30pm

The Showroom
               63 Penfold Street 
London NW8 8PQ

We are looking forward to the launch of our new Golden Threads publication at the Showroom, alongside Andrea Francke’s Invisible Spaces of Parenthood manual during the Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON.

The book, available in English and Arabic editions, relates to our 2010 Golden Threads fellowships between the UK, Lebanon and Denmark. It looks back on the practice-led research and collective discourse recorded during the four peer-to-peer fellowships.

Artists Hatem Imam, Karen Land Hansen, Emma Smith, and the duo Townley and Bradby researched the varying conditions for artists engaged in social and artist-educator practice in each location. The book includes a dialogue between Emma Smith and Oliver Sumner, contributions from the artists, quotes, project information and images.

Golden Threads was a collaboration between Delta Arts members, invited fellows and hosts: Marwa Arsanios and Mirene Arsanios (Beirut), Karen Land Hansen (Copenhagen), Hatem Imam (Beirut), Lars Mathisen (Copenhagen), Emma Smith (London), Oliver Sumner (Portsmouth), and the artist duo Townley and Bradby (Norwich). We received practical support and advice from Gasworks Gallery (London), SAIR (Sølyst, DK), 98weeks Research Project / Project Space (Beirut), and help from many organisations in each location. Golden Threads was supported by Arts Council England and the Danish Arts Council Committee for Visual Arts.

Golden Threads, Pub. Delta Arts, Eds. Emma Smith & Oliver Sumner,
Price £4.95 plus p+p
A5, 32 Pages, Cover: Colour, Interior: B+W
English edition: ISBN 978-0-9573438-0-1,
Litho print, available from Delta Arts
Arabic edition: ISBN 978-0-9573438-1-8,
Print on Demand, available soon via AND Publishing


Thank you to number82 in Deptford for hosting Delta Arts’ awayday. Members of Delta Arts met in the space yesterday to plan our future programme.