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How It All Started

by Raquel Bellastella

by Pascal van de Vendel

When I was a little girl, I used to play in my grandparent's house a lot.

Throughout my childhood, my grandparents worked making and painting chalk statues and home decorations - which was a thing at the time. I’d spend hours in their garden, making my mud pies and soups in my improvised kitchen while my grandfather would be casting the plaster in his big wooden shed. He would mix the powder with water, put it into the statue's moulds, and leave it dry. This whole transformation felt like something magical for me. It felt so good to play near him. I was free to roam around the garden and use the herbs I wanted. Sometimes he would invite me to go into his shed and see him taking the statues off the moulds. Sometimes he would separate a few for me to paint. Sometimes he and my grandmother would make and paint one just for me. My grandmother would usually cook, paint, or organise things in the house. She would allow me to use her dresses to become so many characters and create many stories. Oh gosh. It was such a joy. I felt like my play was as important as his work and the magical transformations he was doing in his shed. He would come from time to time just to check on me, genuinely curious about what I was doing, or to offer a piece of a “very, very tasty” apple, as he would always say, without the skin, as he knew I liked them like that.

The ultimate scope of childhood is the unrevealing of a healthy, happy, loving adult person. So, when we talk about children’s creativity, that should also be our primary focus. This means supporting the flourishment of their creative personality through a creative process and environment, creating a meaningful product for them, not us.

So creativity for children is not about reaching a certain level of product quality by adults' standards but about nurturing and supporting the development of creative personalities. While creating and exploring, children are learning various skills, and the product should never be the focus but a consequence. Our primary “product” is cultivating creative personalities, which means openness to new experiences, curiosity and risk-taking.

When I look back at those days in my grandparent’s house, I see they did just that. The environment was playful and supportive, and they fully respected my desires and points of view. They also allowed me to experience two aspects of the creative process, the freedom of playing with mud, water, spoons and dresses, and a structured one, as I watched them creating chalk statues or cooking dinner.

And if I think, what’s the product of all of that? I can only think: Here I am.

As I write this article, Martin, who is six, comes into my office and starts reading it. “What are you writing about, Mum?” he asks. I reply. “When I was a little girl, just your age, I used to play a lot in my grandparents’ house, Vovô Abdias and Vovó Isabel (grandpa and grandma in Portuguese) that you met in Brazil, remember? I used to play a lot of mud kitchen and put on my grandmother’s dresses and make loads of stories in their house.” Martin, who doesn’t fully understand family trees yet and has his grandparents overseas but is very quick to catch when something is utterly fun or meaningful, replies:

“And where did you find them?”

His question so touched me. It filled me with gratitude for my grandparents and our time together. It reminded me of my desire for my boys to play with the same abandon, encouragement and freedom. It showed me again how creativity is vital to children’s healthy development. And for Martin too.

Every child has the right to be able to develop their full creative potential. Imaginari Theatre was born to advocate for children's rights, creative development and well-being.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us.




Hi! I'm Quel Bellastella

I’m an art educator, a theatre-maker and a mum of two very wild boys.

I dream of a world where everyone of us is encouraged to be curious and create

- from day one.  

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