As the new term started, I received an email from a lady called Claire Fowler, who in April started up new drop-in art and craft sessions for pre-school kids in Lewes called The Arty Space. I feel so lucky to be asked to try out classes and activities, but sadly many of them we have to turn down because I only have two weekdays each week to have fun with my almost-three-year-old.
Claire generously offered me two free sessions in exchange for a post. My mum took my littler son the first week and came back raving about it – she’s not too handy with a paint brush and not to keen on mess, so it was the perfect place to send her.
I understood immediately why she loved it so much when we went the following week. Claire greeted us so kindly, and remembered my son from the week before. She bent down and said to him: “I remember you liked the paint rolling, so this week I’ve covered a whole table with paper and bought more rollers for you to try out. Soon we’ll do dinosaurs because I know you like them too.” I was so touched.
The Arty Space is held at both 10am and 11am – on Tuesdays at Kings Church, Brooks Road (opposite Homebase), and on Thursdays in the small back room at the All Saints on Friars Walk. Each £6 session is 50 minutes.
We’ve only been to the All Saints sessions, and these feature three large low tables in the room, and an atmosphere that’s super calm thanks to the soft classical music Claire plays. The weeks we’ve been (because of course we’ve been back since our freebies expired!), the first table is for the rollering, and is set with large tubes of paint, trays, and lots of different sponge rollers for making different patterns.
The first week, on the table beside it, were a couple of cardboard tube butterflies Claire had made as suggestions for kids to try out, and paper plates cut into spiral shapes for decorating as curly snakes. There were buttons, feathers, sequins, tiny pom poms, sticker sheets of goggly eyes, corrugated cardboard, popsicle sticks… So much for them to get messy and decorate their insects with.
The final long table had more painting, with grab-brushes and plastic stencils for sponge painting or (as mine did) using with crayons, a box of stamps for making dinosaur trains or vehicle smash-ups on paper.
There’s a box of clean plastic aprons to borrow in various sizes, and Claire even has a tub of disposable towels and wipes for cleaning painty gluey hands after the session. Essentially, it’s about letting your child make a total bomb site of themselves and then not having to worry about clearing up afterwards.
I know that my son does lots of this kind of stuff at nursery, and rarely has a chance to do it with me. I’m so glad that The Arty Space exists. I tried out something similar in Brighton a couple of years ago with him that he loved, but then it changed hands and we didn’t enjoy it so much. And I love the Little Museum Visitors at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft but it’s only once a month and we have swimming now on Fridays.
I love a drop-in, because paying for a term and then not being able to attend each session can prove expensive. But truth be told, drop-ins are tough on the people who run them, because they don’t know from one week to the next whether they’re going to cover their costs. I appreciate this enough to know I’ll make a real effort to go to The Arty Space each week.
The Arty Space will also be running sessions in the holidays – not as childcare, but as an activity. I’ll detail what and when in a huge school holiday clubs post that I’m putting together by popular demand. Look out for it after half term (if it doesn’t kill me first).
The Arty Space
Tel no: 07815 874 323
Days + times: Tue: Kings Church, Brooks Road, Lewes; 10-10.50am + 11-11.50 am. Thu: All Saints, Friars Walk, Lewes; 10-10.50am + 11-11.50 am. Term-time only. Booking advised.
Disclosure: Claire Fowler of The Arty Space contacted me during my blogging break inviting me to try a couple of sessions with my older son in order to write about her new group. I gladly accepted on the understanding that receiving free sessions does not automatically constitute a positive review. I was so glad it was as good as it was – we’ll be continuing to go. Other than the free sessions, no compensation financial or otherwise was offered or accepted for the writing of this post.
// If you like this post, why not join our adventures by hitting ‘subscribe’ (in the side bar on desktop, or way down the bottom on mobile). This’ll mean we hit your inbox up whenever new posts go live //