Saturday, October 29, 2011

SIDE BY SIDE: fotoplay

{cat bodies completed by 7 and 8 year olds}
Marcie Jan Bronstein is an artist, a teacher, and the very proud mom of an 18 year old jazz musician. She has long been fascinated with children's drawings, and has featured their work in a number of large scale commissions and projects. We love Marcie's 'side by side' inspired work at, particularly her fabulous fotoplay project (soon to be published as a first of its kind book) which uses the photographic image as a prompt, and as an invitation for collaboration. Ohhhh those cats!
"I've found that a photographic prompt (in comparison to a hand drawn "doodle" prompt) elicits a unique response, in that it allows a young (or not so young) artist to move between two realms, in two mediums. The resulting images are magical, mysterious, not ever predictable, and always delightful". 

{elephant conversation completed by an 8 year old}
{complete the elephant's body by a five year old}
Here are Marcie's wordless responses to our questions of Bravery, Imagination and Generosity (we can't wait to see her contribution to our Treasure Maps edition!):



Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Second BIG Year, The Mother-artist, & maintaining the pace

Dancing is great training for motherhood. Late nights, long hours, niggling problems, bursts of energy, anticipation, nerves, accolades, post show blues, lots of waiting and then sometimes the blur of days into nights into days. Like dance, parenting is also too hard a pursuit to take on if you are not madly in love with the vocation.(JP, Dancing for two)

Lilly and I both work as artists with ‘portfolio’ careers, simultaneously navigating arts practice, performing, creating, teaching, researching, documenting, presenting and outreach, and though well prepared, we have discovered that running a small BIG business is all this and more.

I am a mother artist. Lilly is a mother artist. 
We think about starting the Mother Artist Network and laugh that it would then be a MAN. 
We share an outrageously rigorous work ethic and check in every day seven days a week re BIG things. We talk about sustaining the pace. And the impossibility of it. 
We have seen first-hand so many small businesses where the front woman/man looks like they are drowning. Where it seems so much is sacrificed for the work. We agree to not drown. 
So we talk about keeping track, about the possibility of having just 5 dedicated to-do days for BIG.

We think about what's coming as we dive into the second year.
We have just had word that BIG is to land in Singapore, Japan and with several other international stockists. We’ve also had requests from stockists in Prague, Milan and France. Don't get too excited - we still have boxes of BIG pages sitting beside us that we don’t have time to take to stockists who might want them!
We are beside ourselves at the artists who have confirmed for the Treasure Maps edition. 
We have a feeling it could all get bigger.
We wonder how we will navigate all of this and get some sleep.

I wrote Dancing for Two over three years ago and come back to it now, although somehow I manage it all with a little less urgency despite the addition of new child and a very BIG mag.

Making it all work for me means prioritising, surrounding myself with others who have a like minded work ethic, living with pressure and a bit of guilt, multi-tasking, endless drama when you least expect it, getting used to making a plan b or c or z, projecting calm onto an unsettled infant while battling 24hr funding deadlines, making key creative decisions with The Wiggles playing in the background (and yes, we have sent them a magazine!), ridiculous ‘after hours’ in the studio, writing articles in portable home offices (set up in various libraries) in 45 minute time blocks and scheduling meetings at home in hopeful sleep times. (JP, Dancing for two)

For us both here in the BIG overflow our kids are making it possible to breathe and to see it all differently each day.  We wonder where they will take us tomorrow. 

 Do you have a small business that is also an art project? How do you find time to breathe?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The BIG 'Blogiversary'

It’s our ‘blogiversary’ today, 12months since the first blog post.  How to sum up what has been a huge year leaves me hands perched on the keyboard willing the best telling of a story that has caught us altogether by surprise.

Lilly and I first dived into BIG in September 2010 despite not having seen each other for 12 years-"I do believe we are starting a collaboration without uttering a spoken word".  We called it a making of a magazine blog. And now we have made one. In September 2011 we hit the press, first saw each other after 12 years (via skype) and launched.

The acceleration from initial sketching of ideas to holding the magazine in our hands was fast and full. We talked, jostled, fired and worked – almost all night on occasion. 

Very early scribbles of a cover by Jo (2010) 
"..a little paper house that can be bent into shape and wallpapered with scribblings. / Tiny paper furniture and flower pots made out of the back cover. / Collaborations between little people and illustrators/poets. / Mentoring across the globe between small ones and big ones. / Interviews where the answers are illustrated rather than written. / Children asked the BIG questions about life the universe and everything". (Early scribbles of imagined pages by Lilly, Sept 2010)

BIG Kids magazine is a co-authored and collaborative place. We often agree to put our own stories aside to do the work but the process is underwritten with a mutual understanding of creative practice as rigorous, personal and poetic.

We are so appreciative of your support and of the kids and big kids who continue to encourage and share our dream of positioning the creative arts as a central avenue for processing, responding to, and affecting the world. 

The BIG blog will continue to chart the making of this BIG magazine, share great work on children, artists, projects, creativity and the connections between them, and seek ways to navigate the matrix world of the mother artist. 

The BIG cover artwork by Lilly, age 40 and Humphrey, age 6
We rely solely on magazine sales to get the BIG magazine to print and are now looking to garner support or sponsorship on a greater scale.

You can read the latest review of BIG kids Magazine today on My Book Corner and support us by spreading the BIG word to your friends and SUBSCRIBING.

Jo and Lilly xx

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Mama Inspired by the B.I.G Artcard project

A mother sits with her four children as they pour over the BIG pages.
Inspired, she takes to creating something in response herself. 

Bravery is to take a small step in an unknown direction
Imagination is to let go and let your mind fly
Generosity is to give your heart away
Sydney based Katrin has been a mother for 12 years and with her littlest now at kindy her world shifts in new ways. Trained as a doctor she has always harboured a desire to be an illustrator. She tentatively hands over her designs in response to the BIG Artcard project and we take our hat off to her and this little mole in all of his bravery, imagination and generosity.

SUBSCRIBE to BIG Kids Magazine and enjoy it side by side with your children!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A beauty of birds in incredible Kindy colour

The kids at Lady Game Kindergarten in Sydney have been responding to the BIG pages in flocks. Here they have collaged photographs of birds onto large pieces of paper and completed the images in crayon and coloured wash with beautiful results. Their class is now in the running for the BIG Giveaway! You have till tomorrow night to email us your creative responses to your favourite BIG pages or upload them to our facebook wall...we know so many kids have been writing/drawing/colouring and creating on the pages - they just need a grown up to take a quick photo and send it in OR comment on facebook or below with a description of your/your child's response. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is your favourite BIG page?

"Twerl" (Lea Redmond)
We love this creative response from nine year old Abi to Lea Redmond's 'imagination' character 'Twerl" on Page 48 of BIG Kids Magazine

 By contributing her creative response Abi is now in the BIG giveaway to win a most fab pack of pressies including Once there was a boy, art goodies and a little surprise from Leafcutter Designs. You have til Friday night to post your children's drawing/review/words to any one (or more) of the BIG pages to our facebook wall or email us at
We will announce the winner on Monday!

Thank you so much to Abi and to Abi's mum Angela and to everyone who has sent in a response so far. Lea's 'Twerl' is also one of our senior editor Luca's  favourite pages...what's your/your child's favourite part or page of the magazine?

Brown Bird Dropping Colour by Abi, age 9
Hello, I am a little brown duck named George.  I live on a big farm.  In the world I live in it is all grey and black.  There is no colour on the planet.  But if your there on a good day you mite see a glimpse of white.  But one day I found something on the farm. It was so beautiful, I named it COLOUR!  The next day I came back to the farm and there was a bunch of colour!  I picked up the colour, and it spread all over me.  That night I thought up something, I was going to super size that experiment. I made a little plane and put colour in a whistle. Some of the whistle turned yellow, but I kicked off the ground and took off. When I was high enough I started dropping colour bombs out of the whistle. It fell on the earth and colour spread everywhere.   Image and words by Abi (age 9)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Drawing, dancing, distance

Dance is the embodiment of the spirit said author Kim Scott recently at a gathering I was lucky enough to be at. Indeed. Dance is not tangible in the same way as words, neither is the idea of spirit. Both are hard to hold on to or document, and both are absolutely present.  Similarly, Lilly's lines move in ways that lift you from the page and into where you can't quite explain. She is currently in the studio creating a new body of work for her upcoming November exhibition all the while navigating the BIG demands. We each give the other the space to 'work' as much as possible, but the immersive creative process that has been so familiar to us both for so many years is unsettled by distraction and this whole BIG affair. What is a certainty is that new work will be made. New lines. New dances. New bodies, and new bodies of work. I quietly ask for a sneak peek in between the daily barrage of BIG business and write immediately in response to her images. It is this ongoing collaborative and responsive practice that supports the long distance between us and fuels the work both inside and outside of BIG. Dancing.
Lilly Blue, towards the exhibition
She sewed under overlines and caught needle pulled thread to where her hands did not expect. 
You cannot see my history through such buildings and breaks.
Cut this graphite armour and gently retrace my undoing.(jp)
Lilly Blue, towards the exhibition
shoulder framed and falling. weight into weight. (jp)

Lilly Blue, for the exhibition
you gave me houses of histories and i couldn't hold any of them.(jp)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SIDE BY SIDE Workstations: How to be a kid and why we have to ask how!

The sun has been shining. The tadpoles are growing. The days are getting longer and we are outside.
The very hungry backyard Caterpillar...
Meanwhile a 'passport' for kids is in process of being handed out to 40,000 Western Australian school children by Nature Play featuring Fifteen things to do before you're 12.

Here is the list and underneath we have added a few more must-do's. Please add your own to-do's in the comments! 
  1. Climb a tree
  2. Build a cubby house
  3. Sleep under the stars
  4. Invent a game that lasts three days
  5. Learn to swim
  6. Catch a wave
  7. Play in the bush
  8. Play in a creek
  9. Visit a national park
  10. Play in the rain
  11. Catch a tadpole
  12. Make a mudpie
  13. Build a sand castle city
  14. Plant something and watch it grow
  15. Learn to ride a bike

The BIG extra's:

16. Hang on for one full rotation of the Hills hoist
17. Jump on the trampoline in the nude
18. Make a home made speed bump to sail your bike over
19. Let a snail leave a silver trail over your foot
20. Make and wheee on a tyre/ball swing
21. Run through the sprinklers
22. Dig a hole and bury something
23. Paint a rock, leaf or twig
24. Ride a bike with no hands

Rubble Painting
While this list is fantastic, it is incredible that we actually have to 'list' and circulate these childhood experiences. With TVs on the back of car seats blocking out the sense and concept of distance, travel, geography, the world outside and TIME, we are similarly worried about the direction of childhood. Andrew Daddo talks about this and engaging with your kids here and is a speaker at the Playgroup Australia Conference All Together Now currently happening in Melbourne. Also speaking is Tim Gill, the author of rethinking childhood. All this talk of mudpies and outside play collides with a post Lilly sent me today from Teacher Tom about risk-taking and the interest kids have in the darker side of human nature. Let's hope we never have to 'teach' our kids how to play outside; instead let's agree to let that snail leave a silver trail over our foot (and yes, I was coerced into this one today - ugh!)

For those that have the BIG mag check out pages 42-43 for tips on how to be a nature researcher and step outside - side by side - with your child to follow Alexandra Harrison's simple steps to bird watching and try out what it's like to be slow like turtles.
For those of you who want the BIG pages delivered to you this week SUBSCRIBE here!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Dallas Clayton, An Awesome Book
BIG is in the world and it is an exciting time. We jump up and down at the daily influx of subscriptions and share long distance grinning at the thought of the BIG pages in the hands of so many curious and creative kids. Luca looks bemused when I show him this very lovely post and says "who is that mum?" meanwhile Twyla demands to know where Lilly is taking all of her magazines with each batch that flies out the door.
Dallas Clayton, An Awesome Book
We navigate this next BIG phase like ships in the night and crossover in the 3hour time difference to respond to emails that fly in like wildfire, land the mags to stockists, laugh at fabulous moments lost in translation, prepare our first ever BAS, and work on the pagination for the next edition (and yes, 12 months ago - we had to google that term too!) It feels like we are finally at the beginning!
Dallas Clayton, An Awesome Book

WIN BIG If you have already received the mag - you can enter our BIG launch giveaway by emailing your creative responses to BIG Kids Magazine (your colouring, boat logos, drawing, bird-names, reviews and photos) or posting them onto our facebook wall by October 21st to go into the draw to win a prize pack including our fave book from Magabala Books, movie tix, curious art supplies, a surprise from Leafcutter Designs, a CD from Nadia Sunde Homespun Music, and other BIG goodies!
You can ALSO win a copy of An Awesome book by BIG contributor, Dallas Clayton just by sending Luca an email to with your fave pages and best bits in the mag.