HOTA's World Upside Down - the kids review

Looking for kids activities on the Gold Coast that are fun, relaxing, educational and FREE? Just around the corner from Surfers Paradise (and well worth a drive down if you’re from out of town), HOTA’s Children’s Gallery is a must-do for families. Their current exhibition is World Upside Down. Running until 10th October, this engaging experience uses both craft and digital installations to offer fun to children of all ages, with a deep implied meaning behind it all.

And for the parents – it’s a wonderful hour of zen family time, incorporating education about the world we live in using art.

Craft activities at HOTA World Upside Down

What is HOTA’s World Upside Down?

World Upside Down at HOTA is a peaceful space within the gallery. It uses craft to explain to children that it might not be such a peaceful place for animals anymore. This world is changing. Many places where humans, plants and animals call home are becoming harder to live in.

When you arrive, the helpful staff will find you a seat and explain what the craft activity is that week. For us it was decorating a Kangaroo or Koala mask; with glue, scissors, colouring pencils and collage sheets – all supplied free of charge by the gallery!

1. Design your own creature – choosing which mask you want first (we did both as choices seemed too hard for a three-year-old)!
2. Cut the designs out from the collage sheets and arrange/glue them on your creature.
3. Become the creature by wearing your mask while you are visiting HOTA.

Kangaroo mask at HOTA World Upside Down

Facilities in the gallery are great, both disability and pram friendly. There is even a quiet outdoor area next to World Upside Down, should you want some fresh air, to breastfeed or have a picnic without leaving the building. Completely COVID compliant, craft tools / area is sterilised after every use.

Additional kids activities at World Upside Down

After the masks were made, we enjoyed a game by Alinta Krauth called ‘Shelter in a Place’. A Gold Coast artist, Alinta created this digital installation for toddlers to play with a parent, or for older children to read and play themselves (if they want to).

HOTA World Upside Down
How Alinta’s game actually works is by standing within a circle on the floor to start with. Each circle summons a different natural power. The instructions in each circle get you playing by mimicking the natural world. You put yourself in the animals and plants shoes, and see how our modern world effects them.

Part of Alinta’s display is animals wearing gas masks which was the artists reaction to the animals coping with bush fires. Fauna is layered over the top, to show images of regrowth and regeneration that can occur afterwards. You have that sad, confronting imagery but the kids can then connect the beauty of regrowth to that on the flip side. The collage sheets that are offered to use on the masks connect to Alinta’s images – it’s fantastic how it all links together.

It’s a very unique art installation, with a deeper meaning – a clever interactive piece.

Also as part of World Upside Down at HOTA, there is also an audio composition by Thomas Lyons called Fresh. This digital installation get’s children playing in a refreshing creek. We were given a leaf made from card which we could blow down the creek! This gave our child a better understanding of breath and movement. The artist has recreated a pool from the natural world and explains that our drinking water comes from ancient creeks hidden in the mountainous rainforests.

Japanese artist Lowana-Skye Davies (and others) also provide brilliant pieces in this space.

animal masks at HOTA World Upside Down

The World Upside Down mask display

At the end we asked our three-year-old if she wanted her mask to join the large display on the wall, and thus use her own art to be admired in the gallery by others. Though a lot of kids must love this idea, as the wall had hundreds of children’s contributions on it, our little one wanted to enjoy the masks herself and choose to take them both home. Playing with them for many days afterwards!!

You will leave questioning why we separate humans from nature. This made us think about creating a better world for animals and plants, whilst enjoying the calming experience.

You may also like…

Craft ideas for the non-crafty parent

Why art and craft REALLY matters

The FOUR Cs. Creativity in the 21st century classroom

Written by Angela Sutherland

After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music.

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