Colour lands at Cooper Gallery

Learning about the world around us is a real hoot.

We’re surrounded by colours, shapes and textures – something we as adults forget to appreciate. But a child’s curiosity and enthusiasm for the details around us reignite our own sense of wonder.

This springtime, colour their senses, inspire their imaginations and fly on the wing of creativity with a new exhibition that is swooping into Cooper Gallery in Barnsley.

From Saturday 21st March until Saturday 20th June, Cooper Gallery will be the new nesting place of the travelling exhibition, Wow! Said the Owl.

Based on the award-winning children’s book by Tim Hopgood, Wow! Said the Owl is a hands-on exhibition for under-fives and their families where children are encouraged to use their senses to explore the world around them.

In the book, the little nocturnal owl is intrigued to find out what the world looks like in the light of day, so she stays awake and is met by a symphony of colours that makes her exclaim, WOW!

As your little ones grow, they too may be enthralled by the bright yellow sun, especially when there are fluffy white clouds floating across the brilliant blue sky.

If you take them to the park, they may be fascinated by the green plants and orange flowers they walk by, or the red butterflies that flutter past. As autumn comes around, there is nothing better than hearing the crunch of brown leaves under foot.

A grey sky to an adult may make us feel gloomy, but to a child it means splashing in puddles and running in the rain in bright coloured wellies. There may even be a rainbow shining through the clouds.

After a day filled with fun, do your curious little chicks love to marvel at the most beautiful sight of all like the little owl does – the shining stars in the dark night sky.

As part of the exhibition, there will be a range of sensory-based activities for children to take part in where they can touch, see and hear a collective of nature-inspired items.

Stare at the great fabric owl that stands proudly in the Cooper Gallery, made up of a patchwork of textiles to look like feathers. Pick up the leaves to feel the different textures and try your hand at leaf rubbing. Shake the big wooden rain makers to hear the pitter patter of water droplets.

Try on the different dressing-up outfits to pretend to be the sun, the butterfly or the owl. Have a go on the colour-matching board to connect the colours with their names. And have some quiet time in the tepee as you listen to the story being read.

There are also several free events taking place through the exhibition’s duration for all the family to get involved with.

To launch the exhibition on Saturday 21st March, there will be a story and crafts session from 10am to 12.30pm. During the Easter holidays, there is a pattern and collage workshop on Monday 6th and Wednesday 8th April where children can create their own masterpieces inspired by the exhibition.

On Thursday 16th April, writer and illustrator of Wow! Said the Owl, Tim Hopgood, will be doing a workshop for families to read the story and draw their own version of the owl, along with making a paper bag owl puppet to take home. There will also be another interactive story session on Saturday 18th April.

Be sure to visit the WOW Wednesday sessions on 29th April, 6th May and 13th May for lots of interactive sensory activities.

And at Spring Bank, there will be an Art in the Dark session at Experience Barnsley on Wednesday 27th May where you can help to make a glow-in-the-dark woodland world and also create your own glow-in-the-dark poster to take home.

For more information about the exhibition and the events taking place, visit