The kids go Falling Back to Earth

Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth
A wonderful exhibit. Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth

Hurry before it’s gone. Last days, the exhibit ends 11th May!

I started feeling a little pained at the thought of my son starting Kindy next year. This is a five-day fortnight pre-school program from 8:30am-2:30pm, in preparation for school full-time the following year. There are times when I’m driving and glance around and see these two kids of mine and wonder where had my babies gone…and also why they are simultaneously screaming out the window at an excruciatingly high pitch?

I felt I had so much time to do things with Liam before school starts. One of those things was to take the kids to GOMA, the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Southbank. With Kindy looming and me in a panic, it was off to get at least some of the items checked off my imaginary list. Just our luck: GOMA had a spectacular new exhibit called Falling Back to Earth by Cai Guo-Qiang. This exhibit consisted of three big installations, two of them with replica life-size animals, which is awesome as it is something kids could connect with as well. Perhaps too well. Perhaps they would try to pat and climb on these friendly exotic animals and they really will be falling back to earth!?

As you enter the exhibit, the first thing you see is a great big gum tree suspended in the air, just about to fall. It’s titled Eucalyptus 2013. You can walk beside it and around it to get the full effect. There are wooden stumps around the gum tree. I wasn’t sure if they were part of the installation or a place for us to sit. So when Liam decided to touch and sit on one I stopped him “remember no touching”. But I think they were indeed chairs for sitting. The kiddies, unfortunately, weren’t blown away with this one.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth - Heritage
Lambs drinking along side a polar bear at the Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth exhibit GOMA

Next was the Heritage installation, especially commissioned by GOMA. It’s a beautiful display of 99 animals from all different nations, all thirsty with tongues out, just on the verge of sipping in a pool of still water. Occasionally, a drop of water breaks the stillness of the pool and ripples out; or as Liam noted, there was a leak in the roof. I later learned that these are replica animals; I thought they were taxidermied animals because they look quite lifelike. Incidentally I had my double stroller for zipping in and out. My 4-year-old can jump in and out as he pleased but the the –year-old was strapped in. Otherwise, she would’ve gone swimming in the pool of water from which the animals were all harmoniously about to drink. As we walked around the display, the kids were just enthralled,  pointing out different animals as we traveled around the exhibit.

The last installation was called Head On, an exhibit that you  can walk around and through. It consists a huge pack of life-size wolves, suspended in the air as if leaping then hitting a glass wall and falling back down to earth. With two little kids, it’s hard to reflect on the art. But it’s an amazing piece and GOMA allows photographs of the exhibit, so you can ponder its interpretation later when the kids are in bed. From the perspective of my 4-year-old, he believed that the wolves were sprinkled with some pixie dust but not enough and ran out of their magical powers. Layla, loved this one, laughing, reaching out and making her word for puppy dog (which is a sort of pant).

The attention span of children does not encourage allot of meditation and reflection of this exhibit. However, you can see Falling Back to Earth quite quickly and still feel like you’ve walked away with something of merit, even if it’s a sense of pride that no animals fell and nothing was touched or paddled in.

Free interactive kids activities

Cai Guo-Qiang Kids & Gordon Hookey Kangaroo Crew

I was joined on this trip by another mum of two girls whom loved the exhibit. It turned out to be a great little playdate. After the exhibit, we headed to the Cai Guo-Qiang Kids. This is a free kids area where you can colour and create animals which you can leave displayed on the shelves. There are also iPads with which kids can create gun powder drawings and have them explode and displayed on electronic frames on the wall. Another iPad option is a program that allows them to set off fireworks on the row of large screens in front them.

After the Cai with kids section, head downstairs, where the kids can have a run around in the free Gordon Hookey Kangaroo Crew area. There are kangaroo-themed arcade games, interactive stories, make-your-own kangaroo mask crafts, and iPads for making kangaroo posters that stars the creator. These roo posters can be hung on the wall and also emailed to your inbox. Check out the pictures below.


We waited until an hour before closing time at around 4:00pm to see the exhibit. The place starts emptying out and you get a more intimate experience. The kids sections were virtually empty and the kind staff had so much time to show us each of the activities on offer.

Click here for the latest kids exhibitions and activities

GOMA Opening Hours

Daily: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday
Ticketed exhibitions:
Ticket desk closes 4:00pm, exhibition closes 5.00pm

‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’ Tickets

Adult $15 | Season Adult $45
Season Concession (not valid for groups) $36
Member $11† | Season Member $33†
Secondary Student $8
Children (12 years and under) FREE
Family (1–2 adults and children aged 13–17) $38
Concession/Group 10+ $12


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