Danh Vo at Art Block

Children from Art Block carrying wood at Danh Vo's farm and studio, Germany, 2019. Film still courtesy Gordon Beswick

To coincide with his solo exhibition at the South London Gallery, the SLG commissioned artist Danh Vo to collaborate with children from Art Block, the SLG's free space on Sceaux Gardens estate for local children to make things, be creative and play.

Admiring the creative projects the children were making, Vo decided, rather than install his own work in Art Block, to invite the group to stay on his to his converted-farm studio in Germany to work with his team to develop and build the project together. During August 2019, 11 children from Art Block visited Vo’s farm and studio in Germany. Over four days, the children worked with the artist and studio team to adapt, adorn and customise a large wooden pavilion. They enjoyed cooking, camping, gardening and playing together on site.

Over the following six months, Danh Vo invites the children to adapt and modify their space at Art Block, using walnut wood, glow-in-the-dark paint and other materials. During supervised sessions with the SLG Art & Play team, children cut, saw and drill the wood to create a new artwork together.

This project continues Vo’s use of materials and objects that refer to important events in his own life. Originally from Vietnam, Vo and his family left the country following the civil war, eventually settling in Denmark in 1979. The walnut wood is from the farm of Craig McNamara, son of Robert McNamara, US Defense Secretary during the Vietnam War.

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