Pastello Draw Act – Mathery Studio. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.

The design of this play-installation is genius. The Italian designers who created it seemed to understand that kids are silly, and their imaginations are still supple enough to have a riot drawing with their heads and feet. It’s something that we might be asked to do in a undergraduate fine art drawing programme, and feel pretty frustrated doing, while also having to consider the psychological impact of drawing without our hands.  Through the use of wearable crayons – on feet, head, embedded in cutlery, tied to walls or in the form of 9kg globes, the team managed to emphasise the advantage that less freeing options presented. For adults, this could be interpreted as a method to exert more physical force into drawing, to combat hesitancy or lack of confidence in mark-making. If the vehicle (the crayon) is being altered by other forces (weight, height, gravity) then your creative input is less accountable. You are forced to break bad habits of feathery light strokes of hesitant pencil work and constant erasing and smudging. It is freeing to have an inanimate co-conspirator making creating often meaningless unidentifiable marks on the wall/floor, paper plate, piece of paper.

Children using the helmets with crayons stuck to the front, sides and back drawing on a slanted wall.

As part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s commitment to design and children’s programming,
we have been commissioned to conceptualise and design a new immersive Kids Space focused on transforming perception surrounding the simple act of drawing.
The name ‘Pastello’ derives from the Italian word for pastel or crayon – the principal material we embraced for this project.
Crayons are made of wax that can be melted and moulded.
Pastello – Draw Act is a dedicated environment based around the re-imagination of traditional drawing tools and processes.
The concept shifts perceptions and expectations about traditional materiality, media and the act of drawing itself.
It is active, colourful, inspiring and fun. The objective of the space is to ask children to break out of their comfort zone and to become active protagonists in the physical act of drawing. Children will be prompted to draw in odd and quirky ways; through sport, performance and random bodily expression, using melted oil pastels as re-imagined drawing contraptions.
Mathery’s concept for this NGV design commission includes interior architecture, graphic design, product design, furnishing and film – representing our creative capability as a multi-disciplinary studio.
The space becomes the media, architectural surfaces serve as substrate, traditional drawing tools are transformed in scale and form, and everyday artefacts mutate to form a stunning array of improvised drawing utensils.
NGV Director Tony Ellwood says: “We are fortunate that these talented Italian designers have chosen to spend time in Melbourne; the NGV and the city will benefit from their unique aesthetic and idiosyncratic approach to the design process.”
Pastello: Draw Act is on display in the Children’s Gallery at NGV International from 10 May to 31 August 2014.

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