Starting sessions at a new site can be a difficult process, especially when it’s still wintertime and curiosity is clipped by the cold air, and stopping to linger outside is far less appealing than getting home to a warm supper.

Our new site is next to a community centre and close to a school. It is a thoroughfare used by children through on their way home from school, or parents with toddlers coming from nursery in the community centre, or later on the children on their way to arabic lessons at the mosque.

It is a transient place, people are always on their way elsewhere, and so far the most enticing play offer has been the chalk, which has been an important tool for children claiming this space as their own by making their own marks: images and words, names, comical parodies and tags.

Children of all ages, youths and sometimes parents too, have all had a turn drawing on the big blank canvas of tarmac path and concrete pavers.

One session a group of Bengali boys, 14-17 year olds, took the chalk over into the parking lot and made a series of drawings, including a massive collaborative portrait the size of about three or four cars, of a man/boy complete with genitals and a bird on his shoulder, labelled “dick head”. The enthusiasm and humour they brought to the session, and the collective pride they shared over their images was obvious.


“We are your best customers!” they told us.

“No one stopped before we came here!” they said, enjoying the effect of their example, as groups of younger boys stopped to engage, clearly encouraged by the presence of this older group.

Here are some of the chalk creations that have happened so far….

Advertisements