Simple pleasures: the swing

It is good to be reminded of the value of life’s simplest pleasures. Like the pleasure of feeling your suspended body sway smoothly through space on a swing. Swinging is an act of effortless grace: rising and falling on a fixed arc that flows first with, then against the pull of gravity.

Child on large swing at event of a threadA seasonal video from Alex ‘playgroundology’ Smith was the catalyst for this celebration of swing.

That’s Alex himself reading the poem (‘The Swing’ by Robert Louis Stevenson) and his daughter there in swingseat. Who can fail to engage with a smile like that? It put me in mind of a chilly visit last Sunday afternoon to a play park swingset with my 3-year-old nephew. Oblivious to the cold, he whooped with joy as his father and I pushed him back and forth (occasionally stealing his woolly hat, then replacing it mid-swing).

The latest post from Robin Sutcliffe – kindred spirit, elder statesperson in the UK play sector, sometime collaborator and occasional client – chimed with Alex’s playful animation. His stories of the responses of children and parents to the experience of swinging are powerful and moving.

Swinging is enjoying a moment, it seems. A post last summer from another collaborator and kindred spirit, Paige ‘playscapes’ Johnson, described ‘the event of a thread’: a temporary installation in New York by visual artist Ann Hamilton featuring swings that must be five or six stories high.

Apparently thousands queued for the chance to take part – a grown-up version of the child’s desperate playground cry: “Can I have a go?”

People on swings at event of a thread

It is tempting to use these takes on the swing as the cue for a wider discussion: on risk, perhaps, or playfulness in children and adults, or playground design.

But you know what? I am going to resist that temptation and simply stop here.

As Paige says, everybody loves a swing.

All good wishes for 2015.

3 responses to “Simple pleasures: the swing

  1. Hello Tim

    I’m completely with you on the joys of a swing! A while ago after our visit to Glamis I blogged about the range of swings to be found there as I felt they did the swing thing rather well. http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/developing-school-grounds-outdoor-spaces/swings-and-things-in-the-glamis-adventure-playground/

    I’m also coming across many many innovative swings being created from the use of bath tubs, skateboards and wooden palettes to name but a few.

    I hope 2015 going swingingly for you and all readers of your blog :)

  2. Thanks for this, Tim, such a nice compliment to my own Blog!

  3. Juliet and Robin – thanks for stopping by, and Juliet, thanks for reminding me of our enjoyable Glamis visit. I believe that Grant Lambie, the structure builder who shaped some of Glamis’s swings, has worked up a ‘swing typology’. Let’s hope he shares it sometime!

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