Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles

Art and its superpowers

“You have to learn to look beyond appearances to discover the root of things, to discover the invisible.”
Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles (transl.)​​

Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles - Aperçu

Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles (Luc Prairie)

To access art, you need a magic door! Sylvie Gosselin has built one and invites us to go through it! On the other side lies an intriguing museum filled with works of art. Each of them is a story inspired by the iridescent artist Paul Klee.

Here, the impossible is achieved: the INVISIBLE is made visible. Through mysteries and enchantments, art reveals its secrets and even its superpowers.

By the way… 

Sylvie Gosselin is not only a wonderful actor and storyteller, she is also a visual artist. All the works of art seen in the show were created by her own hands, in her studio.

Directed and performed by Sylvie Gosselin / Written by Sylvie Gosselin, based on the writings of Martin Bellemare, Nathalie Derome, Hélène Mercier and Paul Klee / Produced by Sylvie Gosselin

Paul who?

Paul Klee — a very famous artist! He created a multi-coloured universe, including many magical paintings. You might be wondering who he was, what he painted, how he saw the world… Well, Sylvie Gosselin, who was inspired by him to create her show and her own works, tells us EVERYTHING!

“He’s an artist I really like. His name is Paul Klee. ‘Klee’ like ‘clay’, but it’s not spelled the same. It’s a German name.”

“Now I’d like to show you some things and puppets I made myself based on the works of Paul Klee.”

Psst! To find out more about Paul Klee’s life and work, kids 10 and up can have a look here.

Seeing the invisible

Paul Klee often tried to paint things our eyes don’t always see. The wind, for instance, or what goes through the mind of a hungry cat, as in his painting Cat and Bird (1928).

Have fun naming out loud things you can’t see or detect with the naked eye. ANYTHING that comes to mind. You could write your ideas on a scrap of paper, put them in a big hat, and try to get the rest of the group to guess them using a drawing, a charade or a dance!

Heads up: the game can be both funny and poetic.

By the way…
If there’s one thing that’s invisible yet very real, it’s the feelings we have inside. With your family or your class, here’s a book that gives a clear and deep picture of what love is, and explores the lasting bonds that connect us to each other: The Invisible String.

A story about a line...

A line that wanted to be the longest in the world

A line that was so funny it didn’t quite look like a line anymore

A line caught in a storm

A line with the hiccups

A line that dreamed of swimming in the ocean and turning liquid

A line suffering from heartache

A line that… (You fill in the blank!)

Instructions: In a drawing, tell the story of one of these lines. The important thing is never to lift your pencil off the paper. It’s a line, after all!

“Paul Klee once said that a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”

—Sylvie Gosselin, in Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles

Psst! Another artist who liked lines a lot was the Italian cartoonist Osvaldo Cavandoli. Have a look at La linea (“the line” in Italian), his popular animation, where the character and all his adventures are drawn with a simple white line!

In the style of Paul Klee #1

Use tissue paper to create a self-portrait in the style of Paul Klee.

Like him, have fun with geometric shapes and bright colours, and explore the different textures of the tissue paper when it’s damp, ripped, crumpled up…

“My little Felix’s paintings are better than mine, which too often are filtered by my brain.”

Paul Klee, quoted by his son Felix

In the style of Paul Klee #2

Play around with geometric forms to create your own version of this famous painting by Paul Klee.

1. Start with some sheets of construction paper in different colours.

2. Trace and cut out various geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, circle;…).

3. Assemble the different shapes like a collage to create your own Castle and Sun.

Make a magic vest

You may have noticed the beautiful vest that creator Sylvie Gosselin is wearing in the previous videos. It’s easy to make your own by following her step-by-step instructions.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll have your own vest to wear on holidays and any other day you feel like it.

What if there were a little bit of artist in each of us?

Tell a painting

In the play Histoires d’ailes et d’échelles, each work of art is a tale that inspires an amazing story. Why not try making up a story yourself? It’s not rocket science.

First, choose a painting.


Look at it carefully. What do you SEE? What does it make you THINK of?

If there are one or more people in it, what might their NAMES be? And if there are none, you could imagine that a person, animal or other creature lives in the painting.

What might happen if the painting came ALIVE?

Let your imagination run wild. Anything is possible, nothing is off limits!


By the way…
The Musée d’Orsay has produced a series of podcasts called Promenades imaginaires that invite children to look at a 19th-century painting and then listen to a story inspired by it. It’s a great way to stay connected to art while you wait for your next visit to the museum. (For ages 4+)

Still curious?

Here are some suggestions to continue your exploration:

Additional resources

Reading list 

(in French only)