Power play at Tate Exchange

Tate Exchange 2020

What does ‘power’ mean to you? It’s a concept we’re going to be exploring with more than 100 schoolchildren from London and northern Europe at Tate Modern next month

For the fourth year running, London CLC is a Tate Exchange associate. On 10 March we’ll be taking over the Exchange floor on level 5 of Tate Modern, giving pupils the chance to create digital and non-digital art inspired by Tate Modern’s collections in the gallery space.

‘Power’ is a huge notion to play with but, rather than narrow the definition during our time at Tate Exchange, we’ll look to expand it. We’ll be exploring notions of power, from energy to efficacy, automation to autonomy, through a range of digital and non-digital creative activities.

Our annual project at Tate is always exciting – in previous years we’ve tackled movement,  the ‘lifetime kindergarten’ and living cities – but this year we’re adding a whole new dimension. We’re going to be joined not only by 10 London schools but also three European schools, from Denmark, Finland and Sweden. We’ll be welcoming 36 children – 12 from each school – aged eight to 11 to join the 100 or so from London. The children will explore the space, the theme and the activities together in a spirit of open exchange.

The European schools are partners in the #Co-think Erasmus project we’re involved in, which is looking at inclusive teaching of computational thinking approaches in primary schools in different European countries. 

Inspired by our international audience, we’ll be looking at meanings and roots of ‘power’ in their languages:

  • Magt
  • Kraft
  • Energia
  • Potens

We will use digital and non-digital tools to explore these ideas, finding out what power

means to all of us. There will be three main activities:

Mini workshops

Each workstation provides the children with an activity to work on and learn through making and creating, scaffolded and supported by adults. From past experience this results in a phenomenal level of involvement and creativity.

As in previous years, the children will have the power and autonomy to choose from a range of creative activities, being trusted to navigate through and take part in workshops for as long as they like, tailoring their experiences to their own needs and interests. Here’s just a flavour of some of the workshops on offer:

  • Building with Strawbees: Strawbees is a construction set – material for playful building, testing, sharing ideas and thinking creatively. In this workshop we’ll explore ways to read and make sense of things by making and remaking them, empowering ourselves, understanding and shaping the world around us.
  • Power boats: before it became a museum/gallery, the Tate building was an electricity power station, called Bankside power station.  Barges used to bring oil from the refinery on the Thames Estuary. In this workshop we’ll make their own model boats powered by elastic bands. 
  • Machine learning for AI: developing a code of ethics for AI development. We’ll engage with a “teachable machine” by training it to identify objects and drawings. With this knowledge, we’ll discuss creative uses of this technology – and potential threats. We’ll also explore a code of ethics.

There will also be a tour of some of the gallery artworks that are especially pertinent to the theme of power.  

#Co-Think Showcase

At the #Co-Think Showcase station, run by the European schools, all pupils will have the opportunity to get a taste of our Erasmus+ project. The project was a collaboration with schools and partners in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands exploring how computational thinking and programming can be taught inclusively by writing and programming animations in Scratch.

Two-minute talks


The two-minute talks give pupils a chance to give a short talk to the public about one of the art works they have seen. We are hoping that a few of the European pupils will take part and give a short talk in their language. 

Get involved

We’ll be live blogging and tweeting throughout the day – follow us here on the blog or on @LdnCLC

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