At THE LAB
The LAB is located in Foley Street, Dublin 1 (near Connolly station). It is abuilding dedicated to artists and it is a lot like a science lab in that it is aplace or artists to eperiment, use dierent skills together, test new ideasand play. The LAB Gallery is a space or visual artists to show new work that asks questions and is sometimes unresolved, moving towards a much bigger conversation. This is the rst time The LAB has invited artists to make work or a young audience. Along the way, curators and artists discussed a widerange o issues on childhood, how visual artists make work, how makingwork or children aligns with the artists’ proessional practice, and how tobalance the emphasis on artist as maker with the responsibility o valuing the young viewer’s voice in responding to the work presented.
What is NINE at The LAB Gallery?
Age is important to all o us and is something that we all think about (a lot!).So why choose nine as a specic age to ocus on? It’s not because nine ismore important than any other age. It’s simply a way o using a lens wecan look through to help us to think, eel, and appreciate, more deeply the feeting, and very precious lie stage, called childhood.At nine, children are seeking out independence, epanding their ideasabout the world and becoming autonomous human beings who still needlots o security and reassurance rom their amily group. It is a unique point in a human being’s lie: moving rom being one number to two, making the transition rom child to young person. It is raught with conusion and aniety,but also lled with ecitement and epiphanies.At the brainstorming stage or this ehibition we looked at what might be the best way to approach the dierent developmental stages in childhood….early childhood, 6-8 years, 9-12 years. Should we consider childhood as aseries o stages or should we look at it as a continuum? Most o the adultswho work with children constantly place them into age categories and assigngeneral characteristics to these groups or a range o purposes: marketingcan be counted among these, but so can museum and gallery education. Asa point o departure and discussion, we looked at Growing up in Ireland, astudy o 8,500 nine year olds living in contemporary Ireland, unded by TheDepartment o Children and Youth Aairs and carried out by a consortium o researchers led by the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) and TrinityCollege Dublin. Although we wished to look closely at this developmentalstage we also wanted to acknowledge that each child and grown-up moveson at their own pace and these broad categories can sometimes limit potential scope and reedom or enquiry. The brie or NINE oered the artists the opportunity to eplore a newapproach to making work or a very particular audience and this carrieda weighty sense o responsibility or all involved. It presented challengesas well as raising questions and providing new insights. Luckily, we wereable to meet ace to ace on a regular basis to discuss the work as it wasdeveloping and to talk through ideas and tensions. As this was uncharteredwater or all o us, the collaborative nature o this process supported eachproessional artist and curator at the table and the skills they had to bring to the ehibition making eperience. Throughout this collaborative making process we all have been mindul that nine-year-old children, do not, in general, attend ehibitions on their own, so the vast majority will be accompanied by an adult. It is our hope that the ehibition will create a dialogue between people o all ages about issues which are relevant to all members o society. We especially hope that this dialogue will be led by our viewers, by their insight, wisdom, emotional,and intellectual responses to the work that has been made or them. The best outcome we can hope or the ehibition is that by pressing thepause button and ocusing on this specic age we can collectively eplore,as artists and audience, the unique and individual eperience o being nine.