by Park Theatre
It's that time of year again, and a lot of my time this week has been spent watching children perform in carol concerts and Christmas shows. These performances vary in quality from the endearingly shambolic to the shockingly professional, but it seems there's always something that brings me up short. This year I listened to primary school children reading their own accounts of the nativity, and was struck by the way the originality and subjectiveness of their take on a well-worn tale, combined with the unselfconscious freshness of their language, made me - a fairly jaded atheist - listen to the story in a completely new way.
There's something to be learned from this. My seven-year-old is keen on drawing (that's one of her pieces below), and an artist who's taken an interest in her recently quoted Picasso to me: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." I think that's it. Christmas is a time when children's creations are everywhere, and it's easy to think we've seen it all before; but there is much to be gained from really looking and listening. Because, to paraphrase another maker of icons, J. M. Barrie: we are not young enough to know everything.