Alex McLean and pupils from Wybourn Community Primary

Suitable for: All ages


The Pattern+Code installation is a collaboration between the artist Alex McLean and Year 4 pupils from Wybourn Community Primary School in Sheffield, and has been specially commissioned for Playground.

Alex and the pupils have been working to bring together messages hidden in knotted string (inspired by the ancient Andean digital technology of Khipu), with rhythms created by groups of children using contemporary live coding techniques, in “algorithmic drumming circles”.

By bringing together ancient and contemporary technologies, we see the long-lived, everyday human obsession with abstract symbols and intricate pattern, which has been embedded in culture since well before the invention of electronic computers.

Alex McLean is a Sheffield based musician, software artist, and researcher. He instigated the TidalCycles free/open source live coding environment, and co-founded the Algorave and TOPLAP algorithmic music movements, recently co-editing the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music with Roger Dean. He has performed widely since the year 2000, including at major festivals, and has
organised hundreds of electronic art events including international conferences and festivals. He works part-time as post-doc researcher as part of the PENELOPE project based in Deutsches Museum, Munich, and is a board member of Sheffield-based education+arts charity Access Space.

Live Event Friday 6 July 12noon

Secondary students from Crofton Academy School in Wakefield have been working with Alex on experimental coding and music and will give a live lunchtime algorithmic drumming performance in the Millennium Gallery at 12.15pm on Friday 6 July 2018. At 12noon Alex will give an introduction to this and his other work for Playground this year.

See more of what's on... View all


Royal College of Art

Students from the Royal College of Art have created a fun and engaging machine so that you can really tell us about Playground.

More info


Jono Brandel and Lullatone

Whether it’s a message, essay, story, or poem explore a new way of writing. Make music while you write.

More info

Dance + Doodle with YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids

Discover music and videos through selected content from the YouTube Kids App

More info

Yoto - Clever Speaker


Yoto is a clever speaker designed by families, for families, using Montessori principles to empower children through play.

More info



A collection of playful tools to inspire your kid’s creativity and creation.

More info

Puffin Rock Music!


Explore and remix the music of Puffin Rock through creative play, and share your masterpieces too.

More info

With kind support from...

Founding Sponsor

Major Sponsor


Reception Sponsor


Sponsors in Kind

This is the archive of the 2018 Playground exhibition website.

For more information please see the current site or contact us.