This summer, Young Carers from Centre 33 based across Cambridgeshire have been exploring out of this world art and objects.

Our summer project is inspired by Our Place in Space, a scale model and artwork of our solar system designed by artist Oliver Jeffers and stretching from Midsummer Common in Cambridge, all the way to Waterbeach, part of the nationwide programme, Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.

At workshops in Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge, artist Rachel McGivern has been leading activities on the themes of space and exploring our world through different perspectives.

At Nene Park, Peterborough, young carers from the surrounding area created their own unique viewfinders and lenses. Together we explored the sculptures located across the park, focussing particularly on Bird in Flight, by Bob Dawson. We thought about seeing things from the perspective of  birds who regularly visit the park. What could they see? How might it differ to how we experience the world? Using our viewfinders, we captured amazing photos. Using prints of these images we then made our own planets and created our own universe.

“My favourite part of the day was taking the photos through our special lenses. They looked so cool!”.

Feedback from young person

Using viewfinders to explore the environment

In Ely, Rachel was joined by a new group of young people along with Rosie Amos from the Polar Museum. We handled objects which people living in the polar regions had devised in order to map and make sense of their immediate landscape; undertook science experiments to understand how a white light was actually made up of all the colours; made our own ‘polar’ goggles; and created artworks made using ice.

Young people kneeling on the ground painting
Creating artwork inspired by the northern lights.
Glass of water lit up from behind to illustrate how light is composed of different colours.
A simple experiment reveals how light is made of different colours

“I really liked making the googles. Especially after we got to see the one’s from the museum. I am going to use them all the time!”

Feedback from participant

Our final destination was Cambridge where young people from the city and South Cambridgeshire joined Rachel for 3 days at the museums. We started the week at the centre of the universe – the Sun from the Our Place in Space installation on Midsummer Common – and walked all the way to Jupiter. Along the way we played games and were astonished by the sizes of the planets and the relative distance between them. Jupiter was much further away than we thought!

At Kettle’s Yard we thought about how the artist who created Our Place in Space had collaborated with others to make the artwork. We then worked together to create our own giant artwork using crazy things like really long pencils and balls filled with powder paint. It was challenging because when you had made your piece someone else would change it, but it was really fun too.

Young people sitting at a long table create a group artwork on white paper using coloured powder, sticks and utensils
Working together to create art

At the Whipple Museum we found how discoveries were made by looking at things both far away and really close-up. We made drawings of the fascinating things we saw in the museum, and used a special microscopic camera to see the details in things like our clothes and skin. It was amazing (and also a bit disgusting at times!). Using our drawings and photos, we created globes of the new planets we had invented.

Globes based on our imaginary planets

Finally, at the Fitzwilliam Museum we explored the True to Nature exhibition to discover how artists were inspired by the world around them and visited the camera obscura to see the museum from a whole new perspective – upside down! We  also made our own camera obscuras which everyone really enjoyed, and using just glue and ink we had a go at creating our own tiny galaxies inspired by Our Place in Space. They looked amazingly real, and we could imagine all the creatures who might live there.

A disposable cup filled with ink and glue to make a swirling pattern

Creating galaxies using glue and ink
Child standing on lawn outside museum using a hand-made camera obscura
Viewing the world upside down with a camera obscura

“Thank you for a really fun three days. I’ve never visited the museums before, but I will come back with my family. I love art and craft and we have done so much I would never do at school.”

Feedback from participant

Through their engagement with collections and artists, and their own wonderful creativity, all the young people achieved an Arts Award Discover certificate.

“The young carers really benefitted, learned so much and enjoyed the three days. I am sure you saw some changes with the young people over the three days with confidence and friendship building, and their creative skills were amazing.”

Feedback from Centre 33 Project worker

Find out more about our project in this short film