Visit of Empty spaces exhibition with students

We have organized visit of the exhibition Empty Spaces with approximately 250 students from IST and French School (from pre school to high school).

We questioned the pupils about the artworks on several angle:

  • first, they had to choose their favorite artwork
  • then, we asked them to express their feelings about 2 specific pieces
  • finally, they tried to guess a technique

There were also 2 games

  •  find the details from the artworks
  • make a puzzle

Art & Philosophy project with the children

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—Why is it interesting to practice philosophy with the children

From the age of 3 years, suprised by the world, the children start to ask themselves existential questions about life, death, human relationships, morality, politics, happiness. The child has the gift of a new and curious outlook on the world (naive but not innocent): he/she asks incessantly « why? » and other questions about the essence of things. But what should we do with those questions?

—Philosophy with children has developed in Europe over the last 20 years approximately. At the same time, thanks to the support of psychology and psychoanalysis, society started to grant the new status of ‘thinking subject’ to children. This means children need to be guided in their own existential and intellectual journey.. Youth literature is progressively giving a bigger space to those metaphysical questions and The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (psychoanalysis of fairy tales) by Bruno Bettelheim describes how children’s real concern is to be able to answer those big existential questions.

—The institution of school passes on knowledge but unfortunately not always the meaning of that knowledge and the desire to learn. However, meaning is essential to understanding the world. How to give meaning? By asking questions about life, death, happiness and so on. This move should be preparatory to the learning of other subjects to impart and give them more meaning. But those questions are too often forgotten, because of a fear of talking about them or a lack of time.

—The idea is to create a space entirely dedicated to those questions, a scope for an initiatory encounter with oneself and the others, where there are no winners and no losers, no right or wrong answers.

A bit of History

—Philosophical discussions adapted for children appeared in the seventies. The bases were set by an American philosopher and educationalist thinker Matthew Lipman. Initially, key questions included:

—How to give children access to philosophy? How to develop their critical mind to maintain the balance in our democratic societies?

—According to Matthew Lipman, instead of thinking that only school can give education as a special type of experiment, we should reverse the question: every single thing that can help to find meaning is education and school also, as long as it helps in this way. It means that everywhere meaning is created (sense built by the child, not given to him), there is education.

—The adult tries to avoid questions and to stereotype answers. The child learns by asking questions and by putting the world in order creating a logical thinking. But the system, by giving questions and answers slows down the process. Practising philosophy with children puts logic and questions back at the centre of the process.

—To do that, we need to put in place the right conditions to give the child the opportunity to catch what will give meaning to the things in his own universe with his natural curiosity and his search for meaning.

Aims and benefits

  • —Create a space for collective questions and reflections (where there are no right or wrong answers)
  • —Where the status of the child will be reconsidered as that of thinking subject
  • —Awaken him/her to the world by giving the opportunity to discover other points of view, acquire cultural keys to analyse and understand the world
  • —To develop a logical way of thinking and to answer big existential questions (and to satisfy his need for meaning and coherence)
  • —With the possibility of:

– an initiatic dicovery of one’s self

– self-assertion  : make personal choices, come to terms with them, accept one’s self, accept one’s own freedom

– through encounter with ‘the other’ : dialogue, exchange, debate and reasoned discussions

  • —Develop the capacity to express oneself, to assert one’s ideas and to listen
  • —To develop a critical mind and reasoning
  • —To learn to argue : work on one’s ideas, dig, find the limits and stakes, give reasons to believe in something
  • —To learn to create links and distinctions between fields
  • —To develop creativity and potential to create other worlds
  • —Acquire autonomy, become responsible by thinking by oneself
  • —To improve thanks to dicovery of the abstract

The ME book project

—Creation of a book of 4 cardboard pages (2 sessions of 2h30) . The Me book is realized by the child him/herself about him/herself.

– The cover is a self-portrait with oil pastel and permanent black.

– On the other 3 pages, 3 philosophical debates are illustrated. Those debates are linked to the Me and the personality’s development: difference, appearance and freedom (identity, acceptance, self-esteem, constraints and obligations). They are approached to awake imagination and open a new inspiration’s door.

Introduction: thinking about art and philosophy

—What is art?

—What art is used for ?

—What is philosophy ?

—What philosophy is used for ?

—Why did I choose to mix art and philosophy in this project?

Beginning: Why is it interesting for an adult to do this project here with you?

  • —To spend a moment with you and to take time to create something together. To give you space to dream, talk and create.
  • —Because we think you are intersting persons. Children have a different outlook on the world. An adult can also learn from children.
  • —Because the search of meaning is important for you children and for everybody to understand the world. We think it is important to sometimes think together
  • —To help you to understand yourself better, to know yourself better and to think about yourself.
  • —To allow you to assert and express yourself while respecting the others and while staying yourself.
  • —To help you to accept yourself better.
  • —To develop your creativity while discovering new inspirations

Development:  no model, instructions are given one by one

  • —Cover

-Distribution of materials, guidance, numbering, name (with pencil on the back).

-Observation of the face in a mirror (shape).

-Choice of the cover and drawing of the face’s shape (circle or oval) which fills this whole page.

-Observation of the face’s elements and comparison of their position

-Drawing of the different parts of the face.

-Go over the drawing with a black pen.

-Choice of a color in the oil pastels box for the favourite part of the face


  • —Preparation of pages 2, 3 & 4:

-Choice of three coloured papers (cut of 3 pieces out of them)

-Collage of papers on the different pages

-Observation of the remaining space for question and illustration

-Painting of the illustration’s part with white acrylic.

  • —Philosophical questions around the main topic: identity

-Difference: are you like the others?



-Appearence: do you like to look at yourself in the mirror?


-Freedom: do you choose who you are?

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—Collective research and philosophical debate

—Copy of the question

—Illustration of the answer

—Conceptualisation (definitions).


Collective structure: why is it interesting to ask ourselves those questions? What have we learned?

  • —To distrust ready-made judgments which prevent one from living and loving other people as they are.
  • —Not to imitate or not to try to be absolutely different
  • —To search if you need to be normal
  • —To take responsibility for your own existence even if you haven’t chosen it
  • —That to be free doesn’t mean avoiding obligations and constraints but confronting them while staying yourself
  • —To distinguish between what can and what cannot be changed. What is permanent? How to avoid chasing a fake or an impossible dream.
  • —That life helps you to understand slowly who you are
  • To know yourself better and to accept that you can’t always be what you would like to be
  • Not to give too much importance to the physical appearance and to discover that the real beauty is inside
  • To apprehend that the others’ outlook can also be a mirror for yourself
  • To find your way between the excessive love of yourself and the rejection of yourself
  • To know yourself better and to accept that you can’t always be what you would like to be
  • Not to give too much importance to the physical appearance and to discover that the real beauty is inside.
  • To apprehend that the others’ outlook can also be a mirror for yourself
  • To find your way between the excessive love of yourself and the rejection of yourself



-TEDx conference by Dr. Sara Goering – Philosophy for Kids: Sparking a Love of Learning :

-Philosophical children:

-The benefits of teaching philosophical inquiry to kids on Philosophy Talk radio. An interview with Director Jana Mohr Lone

-Experiment in Springfield school, Massachusetts:

-Bassiri, A., Brown, K., Evans, M., Mascitelli-Morey, S., Pruitt, A., Vaidya, A., and Wartenberg, T., Implementing Philosophy in Elementary Schools, 2013, AuthorHouse

-Jana Mohr Lone, The Philosophical Child, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.

-Thomas E.Wartenberg, Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children’s Literature, Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, 2014.

-Lipman, M., Sharp, A., Oscanyan, F., Philosophy in the Classroom, 1980, Temple University Press

-Lipman, M., and Sharp, A. M., Looking for Meaning, 1982, Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children

-Lipman, M., and Sharp, A. M., Wondering at the World, 1986, Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for ChildrenLipman, M., Thinking in Education, 2003, Cambridge University Press

-Lipman, M., A Life Teaching Thinking, 2008, Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children.

Matthews, G., 1996, The Philosophy of Childhood, Harvard University Press

—In French

-Video documentary in French: Canal ARTE-France Quand les enfants philosophent, 2005 :

-Swiss documentary RTS (Michel Sasseville) :

-Documentaire « Un pour tous, tous pour un ! » sur le projet d’école réalisé par l’école de Lauzelle en Belgique («La différence : l’intégration des enfants de l’enseignement spécial dans l’enseignement ordinaire en 2009-2010 à réflexion sur la notion de différence et création d’un film d’animation en lien avec le sujet):


-Une interview de Martine Nolis « Des ateliers de philo en classe » :

-Moi, c’est quoi ?, O.Brenifier, Editions Nahtan, collection PhiloZenfants, 2004.

-Article de Edwige Chirouter « L’enfant et la philosophie » :

-Interview de Martine Nolis « Des ateliers de philo en classe » :

Chapchap family event@Nafasi Art Space

On the saturday 31d of January, we have organized a ‘curiosity’ chapchap with the help of the artists of the Nafasi Art Space of Dar-es-Salaam – Mikocheni.

This family event is linked  to our ongoing exhibition ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. 

We proposed a family art and crafts activity:

– collect vegetal element in the area

– assemble them together to create an imaginary insect

– glue them on a wooden stick or on  black paper

Then the show started again with the performances of  Makini  NGO and MuDa Africa contemporary dance school and the reactions spoke for themselves!


Visits for schools of the ‘Cabinet of curiosities’ exhibition @Nafasi Art Space

During a whole week, we have organized visit of the exhibition for the Tanzanian and International school of Dar es Salaam. We had prepared 2 lessons: one to be taught at school by the teachers themselves and the other one by ourselves at the Nafasi Art Space.

The visit

After an short introduction of ourselves, our work and the artists, we told the students a story about ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

Helped by a short cartoon movie for children, we explained them the subject of the exhibition.


Then we had a kind of art talk about the big aesthetic questions:

– Is art always beautiful?

– Does it need to like something?

– Is art always painting or sculpture?


Finally, we played different kind of games:

– Find the detail from a piece of art. Where is it coming from?

– Guess what is artwork is made of?

– Tell me the story of that painting (before and after)?


Art and crafts.

We have asked to the children to make insects of recycled vegetal things they found in the garden.

Visit of the ‘In & Out side life stories’ exhibition with students@The French Alliance

On the wednesday 12th of November, I have organized a visit for the secondary school French school at the Alliance française of Dar es Salaam. We went to see tthe exhibition ‘In and Out Side Life Stories’ by Jan Van Esch and Ephrem Salomon.

With the teacher’s team, we prepared several activities to work on during and after the visit which where linked to our different subject: French, History and Art History.

– Express the feeling about an artwork

– Imagine, tell the story of an artwork

– Write a short biography of the artists.

– Question about a poem of Jane Campion (mentioned in the subtitles of one artwork)

– Creation of a word in Amaric Alphabet (Ethiopian’s artist) to describe the exhibition

– Questions and definitions linked to a text about Lalibella churches

– Analysis of a song of Van Morrison (mentioned in the subtitles of one artwork)


Then the teenagers met the artist for an art talk.

Here is also an article I wrote in French about the exhibition:

J’ai rencontré Jan Van Esch comme artiste avant de le connaître comme directeur de Centre culturel. J’ai tout de suite été touchée par ses compositions abstraites qui me rappellent les tableaux de Nicolas de Stael, tant par la frénésie du processus de création que par leurs inspirations. J’y ai perçu un amour infini de la nature et un lien indéniable avec son ancrage urbain. Le bois morcelé connaît entre ses mains une nouvelle vie par un acte de création, souvent nocturne, agîté et tempêtueux à l’image de ce cerveau en perpétuelle activité.

La première fois que j’ai vu les oeuvres d’Ephrem Solomon, je me rappelle avoir été comme aspirée pas une série de portraits graphiques dont on ne peut se détourner. Comment traduire ces émotions, à mi chemin entre l’absence totale de sentiments et une sorte de solitude projetée sur un alphabet dont nous n’avons pas les clés. Des images répétées comme des symboles du temps qui passe, de l’abandon dans lequel nous laisse une société qui ne s’arrête plus pour percevoir le rythme qui la meut.

‘In and Out Side Life Stories’ est un échange passioné qui raconte des histoires anonymes comme si des bribes de correspondance conservées précieusement avaient été retrouvées pour être relues des années après. Il dépeind l’ambivalence des sentiments et nous questionne sur la contradiction entre profondeur et superficialité, populaire et intime, extraversion et pudeur dans un monde où la surconsommation ne laisse plus que très peu de place pour ces formes de communications désuettes face au règne de l’image et de l’instant. Savoir ne rien faire est un plaisir oublié. Eprouver la douceur de vivre ne sera peut-être bientôt plus qu’une aptitude qui nous laissait autrefois une respiration pour appréhender nos croyances. Aurait-on peur d’affronter le silence et d’écouter le métronome de notre libre-arbitre?

Delphine Buysse

Scenography worskshop@the French preschool


Bird 1  Bird 3

Every year, the French school organize a show to celebrate the end of the school. This time, the pre school asked me to make a scenography project with them. As the topic was Brazil, we have decided to build a bird pieces by pieces during one week

Thanks to those little ones for the very funny, tender and excited moments we have spent together.


Mother’s day workshop@Alt Del studio

For the Mother’s day, I have been asked to make a special project with the children of the last preschool group (6 years old-Grande Section).

The work was based on the feelings. « Have you ever seen your mother crazy, angry, sad, happy, in love…? ». The children had to draw funny mother in those different feelings…Then we selected the funniest for the collective artwork but they kept their favorite picture for the gift card.

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The week after, they came to visit the studio. The had a initiation to screen printing and they could finally print their present themselves.

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Before the Mother’s day, the children invited me at a very nice breakfast to give the present to their mother.

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Chapchap family event@Nafasi Art Space

On the saturday 25th of January, I have organized a printing chapchap with the help of the wonderful artists of the Nafasi Art Space of Dar-es-Salaam – Mikocheni.

This family event coincide most of the time with the opening of an exhibition. This time, we set up the artworks of the student who followed my woodcut workshop in November.

I proposed 4 different techniques of monotype:

– with a brush

– with cotton buds

– with a pencil

– with pieces of paper

The adults seemed to enjoy as much as the kids!

Visit of the Biennale with pupils@Nafasi Art Space

Biennale 3

This friday 22nd of November, I have organized a visit for the French school at the Nafasi cultural center. We went to see the East African Biennale of contemporary art.

After a first brainstorming and definition of art, we played different kind of games:

– Find the painting where this detail is coming from

– True or false about big aesthetic questions

– Guess what is artwork is made of?

– Tell me the story of that painting (before and after)

Then the children started an art activity: portraits of a friend with newspapers and magazines.

Very happy morning with those 4 different groups: interesting reflections and funny remarks coming from the children. We all enjoyed…

Visit of the « Confinement » exhibition with children@The French Alliance

On the 29th of October 2013, we did a visit  of the « Confinement » exhibition for children at the French Alliance of Dar es Salaam.


After the explanations, the children were very happy to participate in their way in a « fight for space »: they wrote « Karibu »(Welcome-Bienvenue) with colorful tapes on a big piece of cardboard fighting for their space and above all, working all together on the same piece of artwork.