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Episode #7

Creativity, Play & Outdoor Learning Spaces

with Sian Kellaway 

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“Being inspired and amazed by every day little details. Looking at the world in wonder.

Children see those things, which you can lose as you get older.” 


Sian Kellaway is a gifted artist and teacher. Her natural creativity flows through her in various forms, one of which is screen-printing, where she has a successful Etsy shop for prints. She’s a mother of two, a teacher and project developer at our very own, Back To The Garden Childcare. You could say Sian is part of our nursery ‘extended family’. Her current project at nursery centres around the outdoors spaces - the tipi, shed and garden, which we discuss in todays episode. 


This is a fascinating episode that covers:

  • Sian’s journey and inspiration

  • The current projects she’s working on at the nursery

  • Why boredom is key to creativity

  • The tools she uses to support her creative flow

  • Why creativity is so important to society, children’s wellbeing and so much more.


Happy Listening! 

“It always used to fascinate me as a child, in a way these worthless objects, not worth anything to

anyone else, but they’re so interesting and take on such a significance for a child.”

In This Episode We Talk About:

01:05 Sian’s earliest childhood memory 


02:50 Sian talks about her children, their births and their natural creativity.


05:45 We discuss Sian’s childhood, her own creativity and why her Gran was a big inspiration to her. 


‘My mums mum was a seamstress. She had old fashioned hand crank sewing machine. She also had a huge rag bag that was full of little scraps of fabric and she a button box… it was like a history time capsule of all these buttons that she’d collected over years… Those kind of things really fascinated me. I always wanted to make stuff, I had a definite vision of what I wanted things to look like.’


9:04 Schooling, Training, Experience and Sian’s journey to becoming an art teacher. 


‘I really enjoyed the quietness of the art room, to enjoy being absorbed in a task.’


17:04 How Sian Met Anne (previous guest on the show - see episode 2). How Sian ended up at Back To The Garden Childcare and the initial projects she was involved in including the creation of the ‘wonderland shed’. 


21:13 Current project developing the outdoor space at Back To The Garden Childcare: The garden, tipi and shed. The use of loose parts outside in the Garden area. In the Tipi: the use of fabric, projections, sound and hanging screens to display art works. Why children love smaller nook spaces. Sian shares what the ‘Wunderkammer’ (Cabinet of Curiosities) is and why it’s the centre piece of the tipi. The shed space is more of a workshop area for craft/art/woodwork/weaving/natural dyes/print making and science investigations with work benches and storage for tools. Roald Dahl was a huge inspiration for Sian too. 


‘Foraged sound: collecting sound from a woodland or stream and bringing them back to the nursery.’


31:33 How Sian has managed to keep the dialogue going with the team - what mediums she’s used to stay connected. Use of videos. Sharing ideas both ways. 

‘One of the reasons that Jeannie and Stew were keen to develop the garden space was because of the restrictions that we’ve had with COVID. Being outside and using those spaces is really helpful in terms of keeping social distanced. It’s a healthy way to play. So that’s one of the reasons it’s happening now during the Pandemic.’


35:54 Tools Sian Uses: Mind Maps and Sketch books. 


‘Everyone should keep a sketch book. Everyone’s an artist. People always say ‘oh I’m not artistic, I’m not creative’. People feel disheartened or discouraged because they’re not matching up to their particular set of ideas about what things should look like but its such a good thing to do, adults hardly ever draw, it’s such a relaxing thing to do. ‘Flow state' is what happens when you’re doing art, you’re not thinking consciously about what’s going on, you’re just so absorbed in your task, and that’s the way children are. When we lose that as adults it’s a real shame, and that’s why everyone should keep a sketch book.’ 


40:50 Re-purposing objects is eco-friendly. Sian loves the saying ’one persons trash is another persons treasure.’ 


43:43 How important creatives are to society. Children and creativity.  


‘What have people been turning to during lockdown for solace - they’ve been turning to music, they’ve been turning to film. All those creative outputs have helped people so much get through this difficult period.’


‘Kids are naturally creative and their instinct and impulse is to be creative and to want to create their own world and to mould the world to how their vision is. So it’s a case of facilitating that and allowing that to happen. In the case of children that’s their natural instinct, so just don’t get in the way, all we have to do is not get in the way of that process. Letting them experiment and explore. They naturally want to investigate and explore ideas and invent stuff, that’s what they naturally want to do, I think that’s really important as part of their development … something that’s happening lots at Back To The Garden and hopefully even more now that we’re getting these outdoor spaces set up.’


46:40 Children and Elderly naturally creative. The correlation between boredom and creativity.


51:09 Sian’s creative projects - making time for her own personal projects. Her love for screen printing and visible mending. 


‘When my kids were small I was desperate to have that time for me to be creative - that pre-mum me’.


57:56 Mentors and inspiration


‘I notice things, and get things noticed’ - George Harvey.


59:14 If money, time and logistics were no object, what Sian would create for children. 


1:00:54 What rights’ should children innately have.


01:01:39 Finish this sentence… ‘Children are…’

Episode Resource Links:

Manchester Met Art Foundation 


Brighton University - PGCE in secondary art education 


Sequential design and illustration at Brighton 


Roald Dahls writing space: 


Mud Play Activities 

Mini Beast Exploration 


Reggio Resources Sian likes


Creative industry - 


Simplicity Parenting. 


Ink spot press - Brighton 


Sian’s Etsy Shop -


Sian’s Blog -


Sian’s IG: 

Toast Zoom Workshops - Darning / Visible Mending. 


George Harvey - Album Cover / Teacher -




Thank you for listening! 

We’d be so grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave us a review on your preferred podcast app. Please share with anyone who you think would love to listen.
This episode is sponsored by Kit + Kin, award winning nappies - head to and enter the code BABY20 specially created for our listeners to use on the first subscription.  

Recorded via Zoom and edited at LBS, Stockport.
Producer: Adders Jeffry 
Original Music written by Sadie Pickering, performed by Sadie Pickering, Dan J Logan and Jay Ansill
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