• Danish artist Tine Bech (second from right) plays with some of her own work. (Tine Bech)
"We conceive play as not being serious because it is in opposition to seriousness and work. In fact the opposite of play is not work but depression."
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

25 Aug 2017 - 3:21 PM  UPDATED 25 Aug 2017 - 3:21 PM

The saying goes that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.

That must be doubly so if your job is all about playing.

Tine Bech is a Danish artist who has a PhD in play and has made a career out of creating fun, physical, interactive art that encourages people of all ages to get playful.

She says it's more than just an amusing and enjoyable way to pass the time.  

"I really love what I do. I'm a quite playful person," Bech tells SBS.

"We do know from science that there are certain things that play definitely does for us. One of the most important things is that, from a more academic point of view, it enables us to be emotionally intelligent.

"If we play we learn how to be with other people, how to socialise, we learn to connect, so it has that ability to create social bonds. They also talk a lot about how play enables you to adapt. We are the most playful species. We have adapted super well. And some other species, some animals, that are very good at adapting are very good players."

As we get older, we naturally tend to play less, or play differently. Our lives get busy, we become self-conscious and burdened by responsibility.

Bech says there are great benefits for older people in playing.

"We define play as something children only do, and so therefore we stop playing," Bech says.

"But we do definitely meet people who are more playful than others later in their life, and it's well worth playing because it keeps your brain ticking.

"We conceive play as not being serious because it is in opposition to seriousness and work. In fact the opposite of play is not work but depression."

Bech is in Australia for the first time to install a new interactive public work in the open air square at QV Melbourne as part of their Light / Play program of events.

Launching on August 25, Colour Me Beautiful features five colourful runways leading to a vivid landscape of images, which invites the public to play and perform. 

Participants can strike a post, and images of the participants are captured on each runway and broadcast live on a 5.8 metre by 3.2 metre multicolour screen. 

They will then receive a link to their images to share with others.

She says the work was inspired by what she heard and read about Melbourne. 

"This work in Melbourne, there's an element of being inspired by the process itself, and reading about Melbourne," Bech says.

"And then being told there's lots of fashion and food, so all those little things they hum around inside me, and then it comes out in this way."

Bech has exhibited her work around the world, at major landmarks, galleries, museums and public spaces from Europe to the Middle East, as well as North and South America.

She says different cultures have different approaches to play. 

"I do think maybe we play slightly differently. Some cultures step in faster, and some are more reserved," she says.

Bech believes coming from a playful family has helped shape her approach to play, as has growing up in a country like Denmark.

"In Denmark there is a sense of leisure, sports, activity and a sense of freedom that maybe there is a focus on physical play," she says.

"I think Denmark are the first one who did like an outdoor adventure kind of playground. So they're very physical. They have a very free approach to the body.

"They do actually make legislation that says you have to have these hours in your education where you are physically playing. They value it and they protect it.

She hopes to bring that playful attitude to Melbourne with her latest work. 

“I believe cities need creative collaborative spaces, in unexpected places, that inspire participation and communication. What we are doing at QV Melbourne is exactly that,” says Tine.

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