Studio Cats: Andy Warhol | Ai Wei Wei for Kids is NGV International’s newest children’s gallery exhibition that’s opening to the public tomorrow Friday 11 December. It is part of the largest display of Andy Warhol’s work to come to Melbourne plus iconic works and five new commissions by Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei.
Cats are one of the favourite subjects of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei and these creatures are celebrated in fun, interactive cat-themed activities representing both artists.
The space includes new commissioned wallpaper by Ai Weiwei, a wallpaper design by Andy Warhol, cat drawings by Andy Warhol and films and photos of the artists showing their deep affection for their cats.
On one side of the gallery space sits a bank of computers with fun cat-tail swivel chairs. Kids are invited create their own cat tributes by generating cat memes using clever captions and images of Ai’s cats.
At the back of the gallery is an activity for younger kids where they can create their own box towers of Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which references Warhol’s early 1960s sculptures of packaging boxes. I watched kids instantly start building a ‘ bat cave’ under the watchful eye of Warhol and then the flurry of activity turn to squeals of laughter as the towers toppled!
Younger kids will also enjoy lounging on furry pods to watch a short film that uses a cast of cats to tell the tale of the two artists plus Hosen Tandijono’s film 258 Cats, which was filmed at Ai’s studio in Beijing.
Finally, to quote Banksy, exit via the gift shop and pick up the new NGV Kids publication, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei: An Art Book for Kids ($14.95). The book contains stories, factoids, artwork images, illustrations and creative activities.
- exhibition is most suitable for kids 4+ who are able to manipulate the computer screens in the Ai Wei Wei Clever Cats activity and understand the instructions in the Andy Warhol photobooth. The framed cat images are also hung at adult height.
- Younger kids may still enjoy the cat videos and building towers with the Brillo and Heinz boxes, but deliberate toppling is frowned upon!
- pram parking is outside in the corridor.
- School groups tend to arrive in the morning on Thursdays and Fridays, so try to avoid those times. If you have to go on the weekend, be there at 10am when it opens.
- If you’re a NGV member then attend the Members Family Preview at 9am on Saturday 12 December, before doors open to the public at 10am.
- Ai Wei Wei will be taking selfies with kids for a short time at 10am on Saturday 12 December!
Studio Cats: Andy Warhol | Ai Wei Wei for Kids, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Friday 11 December 2015 – Sunday 24 April 2016.