Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller create fun activity pack for Firstsite gallery

Dubbed “a miniature home-gym for your mind”, the downloadable pack features arty things to do like making loo roll sculptures and designing monuments to key workers.

3 April 2020

A number of top artists have clubbed together with Colchester gallery Firstsite to create an activity pack for families seeking entertainment during lockdown. The gallery asked artists that it had worked with in the past, including Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller, Gillian Wearing, Michael Landy, Vanley Burke, Ryan Gander, Idris Kahn and Annie Morris, to each come up with an exercise that fit on to just one piece of A4 and didn’t need any special equipment to complete.

The Art is where the home is pack, which launches today (3 April) and can be downloaded for free here, follows the ethos of Firstsite’s Holiday Fun programme and, like the IRL scheme, aims to encourage communication, teamwork, self-management, problem solving and resilience. The activities range from making sculptures from excess stockpiled toilet roll (by Michael Landy), making signs to cheer neighbours up (an idea from Gillian Wearing) and finding objects that match labels created by artist Ryan Gander.

Talking to It’s Nice That, Firstsite director Sally Shaw explains that the idea for the project came from her mum, an art teacher, who would plan activities for her to do during the school holidays. “When she ran out of ideas she'd pass me this book called The Big Book of Things to Make and Do. Every page had a different activity on it which you could do with bits and pieces we had lying around at home.” This book sprang to mind as the whole nation entered lockdown and the gallery closed. “Normally we have thousands of children in the building with their parents, as it's all free and there's loads to do. I thought it would be amazing to make the ultimate activity pack that people can access directly at home, with all the best artists in it – also for free.”


Antony Gormley: Art is where the home is activity for Firstsite

Anthony Gormley’s People Paper Chain features three patterns to make unusual decorations inspired by the human figure. “Maybe enough people all over the UK might make a massive connecting paper chain in thousands of households?” Sally tells It’s Nice That. One of Jeremy Deller’s activities, from his contribution 10 Things To Do That Might Be Art made in collaboration with Fraser Muggeridge, involves making a monument to key workers, something particularly poignant right now. “I can't wait to see what people might make from things they have at home,” says Shaw. “Maybe Boris might pick one that could be made permanent! Outside No.10?” Annie Morris, on the other hand, has made a book that can be collected in chapters. As Firstsite adds more artists to the pack each week, Morris will add a new chapter. “Each time we do a new pack, Annie is will add more drawings which can be coloured in and collected to make a whole book once this pandemic has been kicked into touch.”

Talking about the importance of keeping creative in times of uncertainty Shaw says: “Going to a gallery is not unlike going to an imagination gym where you can try out lots of new ideas, do one thing you like repeatedly until you get amazing at it or make up new routines and exercises for yourself. The activity pack is like getting a miniature home-gym for your mind.” Training your imagination is one thing that you can do to help manage stress, she explains. Something we think that both adults and kids could do with some help with right now. Shaw adds, “The more we occupy ourselves with creative things to do, the more we will be able to relax better, sleep better, communicate better, concentrate better and find amazing new solutions to all sorts of tricky problems we might face everyday.”

Part of what Firstsite hopes that the activities will achieve is to show people that art is something that everyone can do, not just world-famous artists. “If I had a pound for every time someone told me 'I'm not arty' or 'I can't draw' I probably wouldn't need Arts Council funding to run Firstsite,” she says. “But what people don't perhaps realise is we now live in a very visually creative society. We make images, take pictures and send emojis all the time. It's time to celebrate that and get more projects going that bring that right out into the open for everyone to see and enjoy. I hope this is one of them.”

Those taking part can share their creations using the hashtag #artiswherethehomeis and also in the Firstsite online studio, here.


Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Art is where the home is activity for Firstsite


Gillian Wearing: Art is where the home is activity for Firstsite

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Michael Landy: Art is where the home is activity for Firstsite

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About the Author

Laura Snoad

Laura is a London-based arts journalist who has been working for It’s Nice That on a freelance basis since 2016.

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