Introduction to School Prints
In 2018, The Hepworth Wakefield launched School Prints, a revival of a 1940s scheme to give school children access to quality contemporary art.
1940s School Prints
The original School Prints was realised through the passion and persistence of Brenda Rawnsley who developed the idea with her late art publisher husband, Derek and Yorkshire-born poet and art critic, Herbert Read who shared a conviction that ‘education through art is education for peace.’ – Herbert Read, 1943. It was set up with the aim of supplying original, high-quality contemporary art to schools so that children, regardless of their background, could experience ‘good’ art.
In 1946 and 1947, lithographic prints were commissioned from British artists including L. S. Lowry, John Nash and John Tunnard specifically for schools. Conscious of schools’ low budgets, artists were asked to include decorative borders so that the prints could be pinned up without the need for framing. Around 4,000 schools subscribed to the School Prints scheme and many individuals also purchased them.
Following this success, Rawnsley became even more ambitious for the project, securing commissions by the leading European artists of the day through extraordinary means. She recalled a trip to Nice on 24 June 1947: ‘Met Picasso’s chauffeur – hatched a plot to ‘bump into’ Picasso next day… Swam and frolicked on Picasso’s part of the beach… Lunched with Picasso, only revealing the scheme late afternoon. Picasso agreed for the love of ‘les enfants du monde‘. She went on to persuade Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and Henry Moore to contribute to the European Series.
Sadly, the European series, published in 1949, was not a huge success with the schools, many finding them too avant-garde. As a result the School Prints initiative was dissolved, but the legacy of this important education project remains.
The Hepworth Wakefield's School Prints
Inspired by this post-war scheme, in 2018 The Hepworth Wakefield launched its own version of School Prints. Established as a five-year project with an ambition for every primary school child in Wakefield to grow up with art on their walls.
To address some of the issues faced by school teachers in the 1940s, The Hepworth Wakefield’s project is supported by a year-long engagement programme. During this time, children from the participating schools visit the gallery and have the opportunity to try out a range of art forms and techniques in workshops led by artists. A CPD programme for teachers also helps develop techniques for using art to teach subjects across the curriculum.
The commissioned artists are provided with the Rawnsley’s original 1940s brief which stated ‘We only ask you if you would be good enough to do something suitable for children and not to use more than six colours. The auto-lithographs, will be used in schools, as a means of giving school children an understanding of contemporary art.’
Sales of the prints supports the cost of the engagement programme. Low-cost posters of the prints are also available to schools outside of Wakefield to buy, together with free teaching resources.
A special thank you to all the artists for donating artwork to Wakefield District schools since 2018.
Thank you also to artist Antony Gormley who generously donated a drawing to The Hepworth Wakefield to loan out to local schools as part of the project.
School Prints has been generously supported by
The Eridge Trust
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
Leeds Community Foundation #iwill Fund
Wakefield Community Foundation #iwill Fund
The primary schools who were given a set of the six prints and participated in art workshops were Flanshaw Junior Infant School, Lawfield Primary School, The Mount Junior Infant School, Snapethorpe Primary School and St. Michael’s Church of England School.
Selected year 9 Art & Design students from Cathedral Academy took on the role of ‘art ambassadors’, writing interpretations of the artworks and supporting in the delivery of workshops at the primary schools.
With support from Wakefield District Community Foundation, the gallery continued to work with art ambassadors from Cathedral Academy to question the importance of arts in education and to design their own #ARTSOS Campaign.
‘Pupils were astounded by the quality of art on show and couldn’t believe that people could make money through art! <School Prints> has given our pupils an insight into a world that was hidden to them. A majority of our pupils had never had the opportunity to visit an art gallery, and had often snubbed the idea of art being a career option, thinking of it as a hobby only. The provision from The Hepworth was outstanding, with smooth, well-organised work both at school and at the Hepworth itself, along with engaging and active teaching from the adults providing the learning opportunities. The scheme gave pupils an alternate way to express themselves, that is sometimes overlooked within school due to the focus on literacy and mathematics. Giving pupils the chance to work solely on creating pieces of art, really engaged our less academic pupils, and gave them a chance to shine!’ – Participating primary school
For 2019, The Hepworth Wakefield commissioned Fiona Banner, Sir Peter Blake, Francis Upritchard and Richard Wentworth to make contemporary prints and worked with 12 Art Ambassadors from Kettlethorpe High School.
270 year 5 pupils from five primary schools – Dane Royd Junior and Infant School, Hendal Primary School, Mackie Hill Junior School, Sandal Castle VA Community Primary School and Sandal Magna Community Academy – and 100 year 9 pupils from Kettlethorpe High School took part in workshops in school and at The Hepworth Wakefield.
The Hepworth Wakefield commissioned three artists – Sir Michael Craig-Martin (b.1941), Laure Prouvost (b.1978) and Linder Sterling (b.1954) to create new prints. These were unveiled with a special display at Phillips auction house in London 16-23 January 2020.
15 Art Ambassadors were chosen from Year 9 pupils at City Fields Academy.
The Hepworth Wakefield commissioned six artists to create new prints in 2021: Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965, Birmingham); Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983 Caracas, Venezuela); Sir Frank Bowling OBE, RA (b. 1934, Bartica, Essequibo, British Guiana); Lubaina Himid CBE (b. 1954, Zanzibar, Tanzania); Claudette Johnson (b. 1959, Manchester); and Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. 1962, London)
Resources and Posters for Schools
Together with year 5 class teachers and art coordinators from Flanshaw Junior Infant School, Lawfield Primary, The Mount Junior Infant School, Snapethorpe Primary School and St. Michael’s Church of England School, The Hepworth Wakefield produced six short animations, one for each poster.
These resources are suitable for primary school pupils and can be adapted to secondary students. The animations include information about what inspires the artists, suggested questions for group discussion as well as creative activities linking to Art, English and Maths to be delivered in the classroom.