About us

What is the Carousel Project?

“The Carousel Project in all its activities is underpinned by the belief that early years children deserve top quality creative arts opportunities and engagement. This is evident in the thoroughness with which they approach their projects and workshops and the professionalism of their artist-practitioners. The Carousel Project makes Devon a much richer county for families with young children to live in and grow.” Catherine Cartwright, Director, Double Elephant Print Workshop

The Carousel Project brings new and exciting creative learning experiences to early years children and their families.  Local professional artists, specialising in interdisciplinary early years arts, work collaboratively to engage young children and their families through highest quality creative arts sessions, based around exploration of stories.

The Devon Carousel Project from Workshops n’ Docs on Vimeo.

This short film illustrates some of the ‘Exploratale’ sessions run by The Carousel Project as part of exetreme Imagination 2016 festival.

Carousel artists offer an aesthetic experience to children that is tailored to the way children know and interact with the world – through the senses.  Carousel sessions will offer a sensory experience of the essential elements of colour, movement, texture and sound through the lens of the storybook. Carousel artists are responsive to children’s ideas and incorporate them into the sessions, allowing the work to develop according to what is engaging the families and the ideas they bring.   Sessions give children and families the opportunity to be creative themselves and to take a lead in creative activities.

Our Aims

* We aim to stimulate imagination through engaging children in creative play, unlocking a brand new world of open-ended discovery in which children can thrive and families can flourish.

* We aim to inspire families to get more involved in creative and cultural activities, and to celebrate and delight in their local environment, heritage and locality.

Our Mission

We engage young children and their parents/caregivers through an enjoyable, lively, stimulating and diverse programme of high quality participatory arts, creative learning and outdoor play activities, enriching lives, building confidence and self-esteem and helping individuals to fulfil their potential whilst combating barriers to taking part in the arts, be they economic, social, cultural or access.

At the heart of our work lies a firm belief in the importance of nurturing children’s innate creative potential from the earliest point and the critical role of families in supporting their children’s play.

It was upon this guiding principle that The Carousel Project was founded in 2011.  Having experienced first hand the positive impact that access to creative and cultural interventions can have on individuals’ personal development, health and well-being, following the birth of her daughter, combined with redundancy, Katherine Ford, Director,  reflected upon the experience and skills that she had gained throughout her career and established ‘The Carousel Project’ CIC.

By inviting a group of local artists specialising in a variety of cross-discipline art forms; animation, dance, music, printmaking and visual arts, to embark upon an explorative and experimental project to pilot the work and finalise the core offer, The Carousel Project was born.  

The learning gained from this experience was applied to the relevant and innovative portfolio of work across 2012/13, having a positive and lasting impact on over 300 families across Devon.  Please see our portfolio

The Devon Carousel Project from Workshops n’ Docs on Vimeo.


Since our launch, Carousel have developed a positive collaborative relationship with University of Exeter’s (UoE) Graduate School of Education (via Dr Kerry Chappell) and multiple collaborative relationships with local and national EY providers and strategy organisations (eg Children’s Centres and Early Arts). We have a strong capacity and expertise for R&D and our proven commitment to researching and developing practice helps sustain our culture of continual improvement and allows us to be responsive.

Via an open-ended approach centred around maximising children’s experiences, ‘ten hallmarks of excellence’ in practice have been identified, drawn from personal reflection, observance of key national strategies and through the Carousel team’s collaborative action research, ‘Playing with Circles’, which determined the principles of Carousel’s influential ‘Unique Approach’.   Please see the film ‘Playing with Circles’ and ‘Our Approach’.   The Carousel team’s research journey is therefore well underway, practically and theoretically.

Our most recent piece of collaborative action research with the University of Exeter ‘Round and Round You Turn Me’ asked: how does creative practice so effectively support Early Years children’s development?

3 Carousel artists created and delivered six mini projects, each spanning a half-term. Working in close partnership with local Children’s Centres, they worked with over 100 children and their parents/carers, spanning from 4 months+ to 70 years+, across a range of early years settings, specifically targeting a range of age-groups under 5.   This short film reveals our findings…  ‘Round and Round You Turn Me’.

Round and Round You Turn Me – An Action Research Project from RA Projects on Vimeo.

Based on our research findings, participant feedback and EY practitioner expertise, Carousel artists have since developed a series of short courses, targeted at very specific age-groups from 4 months – 4 years, which we are now thrilled to be able to offer to early years settings across Devon.