Thursday, June 30, 2011

And then someone sent in the sun..

We are in the post office, time metered out: stamp, kiss, stamp, kiss. Letters are written, forms filled, media kits sent, lists checked, content firing. We are walking around the block on toddler time, in the garden, on the trampoline, in the playroom, at far away desks, in the middle of imagination.

We are stalling and swimming in tides of time-lines and invisible wishing-chair wandering to branches of grumpi ladies and boatbirds and collaborations and rigorous asks from artists who prepare to sail and windcatch our words in ways that will billow us back to rock-pools of when it was all simpler and we could work without consideration of a demographic or detail, nor continuity or image resolution. 
We are working around the clock.

And then we stop for a moment to catch the sun and a personal journey of first flight  - taken in response to her son's invitation - from US based Rachel Awes.

my first flight (Rachel Awes):
 i have worked as a psychologist for a bunch of years. i adore my clients & have scribbled on scrap papers some of the words they've said that has taken my breath away. i decided at some point to compile them together into a healing story & put together a book called "all i did was listen". next i began to look through other artist's images to consider including pictures beside the quotes. i came up with a few & showed our youngest son. he gently laid his hand on my shoulder & said "mom, this needs to be your own art."

i had not created "ART" before, but felt moved by his invitation. i then began with scribbling through an entire notebook to create an image that might match one quote. the initial process was slug slow. & also delightful. over time, it didn't take an entire notebook to birth one image. it became faster & held greater ease.

now i am completing the manuscript. & somehow it is helping to complete me. i am flying. & grateful.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Shared flight. The rocking of the boat and world with it. 
                                                                                                              Jo and Lilly 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A school of birds

From Highgate Primary School in Western Australia, we welcome these incredible portrait birds of some incredibly creative and curious kids! Chani Crow is an artist and teacher based at the school and is doing amazing things with each of the lucky classes. You can see more of Chani's inspired ideas and kids artwork on her fabulous new facebook page promoting and featuring art in primary schools.

In keeping with the BIG side by side theme, we fly the grade 4 and 5 class contributions with a response by the teacher herself to the same task. An artist bird always flies with her flock!  Each one of these birds has such an animated and interesting personality and we are completely bowled over by the quality and expression of these young artists who have taken part in our first ever BIG school collaboration. 

Here Chani explains the process in response to our BIG prompt of creating bird portraits: 

We started the project with a brainstorm of all the birds we knew and some of their more unusual features (toucan beaks, emu legs, peacock feathers etc..). I then asked them to name particular personality traits associated with particular birds (wise owls, happy kookaburras, dramatic peacocks etc...the rule was that it had to be a positive character trait). They then had to design themselves as a bird with an emphasis on showing their unique personality. They were able to use particular features of birds that they knew or create a new creature altogether. We then added colour to the birds, laminated them and added a strip of magnet to the back to they can be taken home to 'fly' around on the fridge!"

Chani's portrait bird flies with her class flocks from Years 4 and 5

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Endurance and Navigation

A Mystery of Endurance and Navigation
(Selena de Carvalho)

The BIG mother-daughter flight continues with Selena de Carvalho and Ruby Peppa. Selena is a Tasmanian-based artist whose work is currently featuring in a fascinating exhibition titled at the ACU Gallery in Melbourne until June 30 (you can read an adult review of it in the Age newspaper here).

Lilly and I are loving our own practice of Endurance and Navigation, with wings and children wrapping up each of the painted minutes between us. We are slowly finding the words, both poetic and rigorous enough, to articulate a creative vision with an ethical, environmental and socially aware foundation that also encompasses a strong business model. BIG was born with a philanthropic heart at its core and we are in the process of structuring it in such a way that it is financially viable in order to live true to this founding principle of generosity. You can see our manifesto here.

We are researchers and artists, educators and performers, mothers and poets. And soon to be publishers of a children's magazine. Right then. While Lilly gets another crash course in CS something, I fly with certificate of registration in hand and make a pledge to my (other) partner to actually cook something a couple of times a weeks. The dance between catching cous cous flung from highchair abandon to highlighting passages from the National Arts and Education review, to test-colouring a big ship, to sharing small wild dances of delight at each courageous YES keeps us upswept in a headwind of incredible momentum. Lilly is currently drafting a guest post for a major blogger on side by side artistic collaboration with kids. And we both hold our daughters close in the mother-dance.

A Mystery of Endurance and Navigation
(Selena de Carvalho)
Collecting Honey
(Ruby Peppa)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mother-daughter birds (and 25 sister birds) soar side by side!

This mother and daughter team is awesome. Mama maintains a gorgeous blog we love called Bird and Little Bird. The mama and creator of the divine Alphabet Glue magazine is Annie, and we figure little bird is her daughter Mariam. Side by side they worked together on their birds and when they flew into our BIG sky, we soared with them (totally visualising Mariam's 25 'sisters' in a Busby Berkley style flight formation amid the brilliant blue!).  BIG and Bird and Little Bird have been talking and are excited about the collaborative potential in the international sky between us.

Mariam (little bird)
Bravery is doing something even though you are afraid.
Imagination is like pretending.  For example, I have imaginary sisters.  Which there are twenty-five of.
Generosity is giving to other people and being nice to them and caring for them. 
Mariam, Vermont, US
Annie (Bird)
Bravery is doing what your heart tells you is right, even when it is really hard.
Imagination is believing that the impossible is actually plausible.
Generosity is giving to others without thinking first about whether or not you have enough.
Annie, Vermont, US

Friday, June 10, 2011

A BIG Update

As it was.
As it is.
It has been a massive few weeks as my desk on the left can attest.  I am not afraid of working in a sea of paper, it drives my sailing somehow, but even for me it was getting a little deep. It took a night of fever and a slow spiral into sickness to pre-empt collapse - I shut my computer and started sorting.

Turns out my intuition served me well. After several days out of action I returned to quietly waiting clarity and calm. I thanked myself for stemming the overflow, and for leaving a map of where we had been in the form of a running long list of 3 single A4 pages. 

As we get closer to the actual making of this magazine, gathering content and confirming artists, kids, projects and collaborations, we increasingly find support in form and structure. Though both Lilly and I are big on remaining open to possibilities, we embrace the structure and rigor required in attending to a  mountain of seemingly insurmountable tasks. There is order in the BIG house. There is now too much information, too many contributors, too many emails, too many birds, too many flight plans and too many near misses for us to hesitate in the overwhelm. We are still finding our way absolutely, but we tackle the hard parts head on, as well dwelling in the collaborative creative process between us that fires this whole BIG thing on a daily basis. We work responsively to continuously provoke, listen, surprise, and keep track of each other (and to get things done)!

We are currently working on a BIG guest post at the invitation of a fabulous blogger, the creation of an irresistible colouring page for an amazing children's organisation, some BIG business form-filling, and a Top Secret assignment with our Junior editors at the helm. Our media kit is on it's way to all kinds of places - if you'd like one let us know. It's time to get the BIG word out. We are about 8weeks away from going to PRINT. Full steam ahead.
The littlest BIG assistant lends a hand

The BIG kit fronts up for first mail out- email info@bigkidsmagazine if you'd like one!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kids magazines we love: Okido and Anorak

We have been researching and gathering artists, organisations, links, interviews, magazines, apps and activities for seven months now (and separately for decades!) and are finally set to roll out our discoveries in the lead up to the BIG launch on September 1st. We apologise in advance for stealing your time, as you will no doubt swim in the following links and frolic at the shores of two of our favourite kids magazines. Many of you may know of Anorak, the UK based "Happy Mag for kids" headed by the lovely Cathy Olmedillas (Anoraks 'mum') and Supermundane's, Rob Lowe (anorak's 'dad'!). What you may not yet know is that have recently announced a new magazine-in-the-making for under-8's called PLOC, with illustrations by the legendary Alain Gree - check out the fabulous extended Anorak interview by Grain Edit here. Also, for all those who are keen to be little editors, Anorak invites you to be on their extended team of reviewers where they send you a book and you send your response back! We encourage all interested BIG kids to try it out here!

Sneak preview of the next Anorak cover! (By Supermundane)

Okido, also based in the UK, has scientist Sophie Dauvoise and illustrator Rachel Ortas at the helm. It is fantastic! The recent weather issue captured the imagination of both Lilly's 2yr old and my 8yr old, texta's were grabbed within seconds to fill in the blanks and chart new territories and scissors followed shortly after to cut out games and worlds that were immediately played with.The weather song on the homepage is worth a listen too!

We love these mags and can't wait for BIG to be among them in the choice for creative kids worldwide. Next week we will feature two amazing downloadable magazines for kids - the first by an awesome Australian visionary, and the second by American book-lover with a gorgeous blog and a matching magazine! What's your favourite mag for kids (or big kids?)

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