Produced by Jessica Wilson
From Melbourne, Australia
About the Company
ONLINE ENGAGEMENT ONLY
An online collection of digital games which guide kids to turn their homes, classrooms, or even your venue - into an arts experience with uninhibited creativity. Games include I AM ACTUALLY A DOG, where the player sees the world through animal eyes, THE DARKNESS GAME where fears turn into characters, and THE WHISPERING ROOMS where the secret thoughts inside rooms come to life, and much more!
This project brings together mindfulness, philosophy, and art. It gives kids the opportunity to create their own content and most importantly, to play. Play is well researched as a necessary developmental tool across all stages of childhood. As well as an important building block for thinking skills, play contributes to inner calm, a feeling of agency and an understanding of ourselves.
Games are to be played at home on a phone or tablet. They are designed to be child led with the occasional role for a willing grown-up. Additional games are being developed to be played at venues.
This exciting project is in development and will premiere this April in Australia. Contact us to see the prototype and play along.
Looking for creative games completely off screen? Check out Jessica Wilson’s SPECIAL DELIVERY where adventures arrive to the child through the mail.
Best for Ages 7-12 years old
Fine Arts: Sculpture, Photography
Language Arts: Creative Writing, Role-Playing
Emotional/Social Development: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social-Awareness, Curiosity, Growth Mindset, Imagination, Perspective
We see Child Nation as a country with no borders. Situated in homes the world over, its child leaders are smart and playful. They see the world around them with empathy and wonder. They forge new relationships with nature, with adults, with animals, and with themselves; fearlessly crossing boundaries to find extraordinary potential in the everyday.
We see that opportunities for playful thinking in children over seven years of age are being lost. Whilst our institutions have made play central in early childhood programs, its value seems to drop off in the first years of primary school, replaced with rule based sport and technique-focused visual art and performing arts programs. Games for this age group also tend to focus upon rules and are full of convention and conformity.
Play is well researched as a necessary developmental tool across all stages of childhood. As well as an important building block for thinking skills, play contributes to inner calm, a feeling of agency and an understanding of ourselves.
According to global business leaders, the most sought-after skills in the workplaces of the future will be creativity, problem solving and coordinating with others. The adults who will thrive will have enjoyed childhoods where they can try out ideas free of judgement and experience carefree creative time.
Digital games for this cohort similarly do not offer open space for kids to create their own content and don’t genuinely foster imaginative minds. They are dominated by pre-made characters and prescribed aesthetics. Parents want their pre-social media children to have a strong sense of self, with the ability to make sound decisions in a range of circumstances. But they are struggling to rise above the products which create consumer-mindsets rather than independent thinking. A celebration of their individuality makes kids less susceptible to the inevitable social platform ‘popularity competitions’ they enter as early teens.
We have created Child Nation as a way to set up weird situations, explore funny ideas and enable (safe) subversive acts. We are looking to reverse the adult gaze which so often objectifies children, to give kids permission to see their world through their own eyes. We have witnessed how this process creates a safe frame to shift power in the parent/child relationship giving kids permission to experiment and releasing wild creative potential.
Child Nation is created by artists. It has grown from the canon of participative theatre and visual art. We see the digital translation of this artist-thinking as a way of offering a more diverse range of children access their own creativity. Child Nation’s artist creators have witnessed how children flourish when making stuff up in private places away from the gaze of adults or peers. The prompts give space for responses by kids in their own environments, in their most familiar language, and at their own pace.
How does it work?
As part of the engagement, Venue receives a custom CHILD NATION page where audiences can purchase access to the collection of games. Length of access can vary from one week to one month to longer! Games can be customized and additional programming around place-making, creativity, resilience and mental health may be added.
The games are optimized for mobile use so idea for a tablet or phone. Currently the games are only available in English but translations should be available in the future.
CHILD NATION was conceived by Jessica Wilson as a lockdown inspired venture which seeks to bring the values and spirit of her interactive works into the homes of children.
Special Thanks to:
Marcia Ferguson for her dramaturgical input to the Special Delivery games.
Jo Sheills for her copywriting eye.
Steve Berrick for conceptual and technical input to the development of Child Nation.
Audience & Critical Acclaim
About Jessica Wilson
In Jessica's own words:
"I am an established artist with a practice in image-based theatre and participative art. I conceive, produce and direct projects which respond to people and places and which are defined by strong aesthetic languages and ambition in purpose. My strength is in marrying poetics and pragmatics - bringing together artists, non-artists and non-arts industries and technologies in unusual experiences, which engage with broad audiences.
I have a long history of experimentation with buses, because I love the idea of bridging the gap between theatre and film, working with landscape as an artform, and attracting a non-theatre going audience.
My bus work PASSENGER (created with Ian Pidd and Nicola Gunn) premiered in Melbourne before being re-routed onto London for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and Sydney for Art & About this year. Last year I also created THE NARRATOR, in collaboration with a team of Latvian artists for the Valmieras International Festival.
With a strong international profile I have started to receive many invitations to adapt my tested ideas to new landscape and people. Examples of this are Latvia and Koln where I adapted I SEE YOU LIKE THIS to 3 different contexts for the Westwind Festival.
I SEE YOU LIKE THIS is part of a suite works with child identity at their core. In it, a child art directs a bizarre photo portrait using their parent’s face as their canvas and the image is exhibited in a professional context. ISYLT has undertaken countless seasons since its creation in 2016, in Australia and Europe, amassing a collection of over 1400 portraits. It was the only Australian project selected to Showcase at IPAY in USA in 2020.
I am very interested in reimagining landscape by ‘theatricalising’ sites in unusual ways and holding a dramatic arc whilst moving an audience across place. I received a 2019 VICTORIAN CREATOR grant to explore this territory further. THE WAYFINDERS is one of the new projects emerging from this time - a new open-air beacon-triggered sound experience for young children produced through Artplay’s New Ideas Lab.
My existing suite of projects build on a long history of theatre works for young people presented by Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne, Artplay, national festivals and international venues including the New Victory in NY, Redmoon in Chicago, and Le Coups De Theatre in Montreal.
I always produce my own work, but did undertake a stint as the AD / CEO of Terrapin between 1999 and 2004. I have consistently created large-scale open-air theatre, which is where my practice began. And I sometimes conceive and mange long-span participative projects such as THE EDGE OF US which was a 2 year long Small Town Transformation project where 5 small towns created thousands of light based sculptures on the water’s edge and permanent light galleries were built in 2018.
Across my 25-year carer,I have remarkably raised $5.5 million towards artistic ventures I have visioned myself. I sit on panels, work regularly as a mentor and as a teacher practitioner in university contexts including Monash, Deakin and University of Melbourne.
SOME PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS ARE…..
PASSENGER (Producer, CoDirector): theatre with its audience onboard a traveling bus. Passenger frames the world as a film and evolves an ordinary conversation between two passengers into a dramatic Western film. Passenger premiered in Docklands Melbourne, played at London's Greenwich and Docklands Festival in 2019 and at Art and About in 2020. It received funds from the Australia Council and the City of Melbourne towards its development and UK tour.
THE NARRATOR (Director): a 2019 commission of Latvia’s Valmiera Theatre Festival resulting in a work on board a bus for children under the original title Unwanted.
THE EDGE OF US (Artistic Director): a Vic Govt Small Town Transformation project in 5 tiny Westernport towns resulting in the installation and activation of 5 outdoor light galleries and a two-year long program of ambitious participative art making.
I SEE YOU LIKE THIS (Director, Producer): roles are reversed when children use a parent's face as the canvas for a professional photo portrait. ISYLT was developed through Artplay's New Ideas Lab in 2017, has been presented in seasons at Arts Centre Melbourne, Darebin Arts Centre, Melbourne Knowledge Week, at Krokus Festival in Belgium and in Cologne amassing a collection of over 1000 portraits.
DWELLING (Director, Producer): large scale open air work for the 2014 Big West Festival inside a custom built house and involving animated projection and participative performance. Dwelling was nominated for a Green Room award for its visual aesthetics and was funded by the Australia Council as well as philanthropics.
STILL AWAKE STILL! (Director, CoProducer, Devisor): a theatre work for children which was premiered at the Arts Centre Melbourne before undertaking big Australian and US tours with Playing Australia support, notably to the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street in NY.
HOW HIGH THE SKY (CoDirector, CoCreator): an acclaimed interactive works for baby / parent pairs, produced by Polyglot for the Melbourne Festival at the Arts Centre 2012.
DREAM MASONS (Creative Producer, CoDirector): a massive spectacle which took place on the wall of the Salamanca Arts Centre and played to 14,000 Hobartians across 3 nights.
DR EGG AND THE MAN WITH NO EAR (Producer, Director, CoWriter): a puppet and animation based work which performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Victorian Arts Centre, in Chicago at Redmoon Theater (2008 - nominated for 4 Jeff Awards), and Canada. DR EGG won the AWGIE for Best Script for Young Audiences in 2011.
I began my career as co-director of BRINK PERFORMANCE GROUP in Brisbane (1994-1999) making the feature work UNDER THE BIG SKY set on the Kangaroo Point cliffs for QPAT's Stage X festival. I have been based in Melbourne since 2005."
To learn more, visit Jessica's website.