The mum who turns toddlers into Artventurers

A chance for messy discovery… one of the Artventurers sessions in York
12 Nov 2013 @ 10.04 am
| Business, Family
A chance for messy discovery… one of the Artventurers sessions in York
A chance for messy discovery… one of the Artventurers sessions in York

jayne-headshotYorkMix art blogger Jayne Dwyer meets a woman running one of York’s most colourful businesses


Lynn Rowan readily admits the tools of her new trade are taking over her home. What was once a summer house is now crammed with cardboard rolls and wallpaper sample books. You would be forgiven for thinking she had taken up interior design.

Lynn has always been artistic. Last Christmas, she made beautiful paper stars that stayed on mantelpieces for most of the year. Similar stars could be found in the design magazines.

However, Lynn is not decorating homes with her own art but helping pre-schoolers unleash their creativity.

For a while Lynn had been looking for a career that would help her revisit her old ambitions, but would also fit in with her family. She studied advanced art and design before having her family.

Lynn met Fiona Simpson on-line forum Baby Banter when her youngest was little. Fiona then left her job as a lawyer run a franchise, delivering art sessions to toddlers in the Sunderland area.

At the time, Lynn was inspired and thought “this is something I could do”. But timing is everything and she waited until her youngest was in school, did her research and contacted Fiona, who by now had set up her own business: Artventurers.

Lynn now has a licence to run the Artventurers’ sessions in York and they have proved so popular that she has set up a second venue and plans to expand provision further in the New Year.

Another big attraction to taking on the licence was that Lynn knew that nothing like this existed already in York.

“My own children would have loved something like this,” she told me, and indeed young son Luke is really enjoying trialling the activities.

Even a salad spinner can make art
Even a salad spinner can make art
Blast off!
Blast off!

During her research, Lynn had read a quote from Pablo Picasso – “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

She loves the fact that the ethos of Artventurers fits in with this. Although lots of planning goes into the sessions, the children themselves make the real decisions on the day.

The whole emphasis is on “free-flow”. A child might sit for an hour on one activity, or flit from one to the other and try a little bit of everything.

Lynn told me that one little boy was mesmerised by the stick-on googly eyes and planted 20 or so on his picture. There were several other activities he could have tried but he was engrossed in this one and that is what it is all about –enjoying the moment.

This is an opportunity to get messy and for discovery. A favourite activity involves “bouncy ball painting”. The children love to see “what will happen next”.

When Lynn talks about her sessions, I wish I was a child again or at least had children young enough. The week I interviewed Lynn, she was eyeing up the cardboard roll that had been holding bubble wrap during my house-move. She left with the roll and the remnants of bubblewrap!

Her favourite session so far has been The Tiger Who Came To Tea session, where my card roll made perfect tiger food tins. The story was one of her own childhood favourite and seemed to evoke some nostalgia in the other parents, too.

Every week has a theme and so far has included space, under the sea and superheroes. There is also a sensory area set up each week, where children can lose themselves and play with things like cloud dough, rainbow rice or coloured cooked spaghetti.

I received a text one evening asking if I had a spare salad spinner and knew this had to be for something other than salad. “It’s to make firework pictures.” Of course, I should have guessed!

Lynn currently runs sessions at Poppleton Road Memorial Hall, but these are fully booked at the moment. More sessions are starting at Copmanthorpe. Visit Lynn’s website for more details.

In the meantime, there is chance to sample a session and help raise money for Children In Need when Lynn runs Paint-a-thon during the week. Her regular classes will be joining in, but if you would like a taster, drop in, pay a £1 to paint a Pudsey.