Jeremy Deller's The Problem with Humans (2017). Painted by Stuart Sam Hughes. Lithograph. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Hepworth Wakefield revives 1940s School Prints scheme

Rob Picheta, 18.01.2018
Project encourages creativity using work by six leading British artists
Original prints by six leading British artists will be given to Yorkshire schools as part of a project led by the Hepworth Wakefield gallery intended to promote pupils’ understanding of contemporary art.

The project is a revival of the original School Prints scheme led by arts and education campaigner Brenda Rawnsley, who commissioned British and international artists to produce low-cost prints for English schools in the late 1940s.

The works, by Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, Haroon Mirza and Rose Wylie, will be given to six Wakefield schools. Others across the country will be offered low-cost reproductions of the prints, as they were in the original scheme.

Antony Gormley has also donated a drawing to the Hepworth Wakefield to be loaned out to local schools as part of the project, which will commission new works by artists each year for the next five years.

Simon Wallis, the director of the Hepworth Wakefield, said the project was a response to the declining number of children taking arts subjects at GCSE, which in 2017 fell to the lowest level in a decade.

Wallis said: “Creativity is being squeezed out of increasingly pressurised school timetables and we know there are schools in our district that simply cannot afford to bring classes to experience the art on display here.”

Deller, who is one of three Turner Prize-winning artists featured in the project, said: “Children engage in art in such an uncomplicated joyful way, both in the making of it and its appreciation; they are our best audience.”

An exhibition of the prints and a selection of their 1940s counterparts will be displayed at the Hepworth Wakefield until June.

The original project enlisted British artists including Henry Moore, LS Lowry and John Tunnard alongside international artists including Picasso and Matisse, distributing reproductions of their works to over 4,000 schools.

The organisers of the modern revival sent artists the same brief used in the 1940s, asking them to use no more than six colours.

Laura Nicholson, the assistant vice principal of Cathedral Academy, a secondary school in Wakefield, said: “The School Prints project is a truly collaborative project that will inspire our whole school community – students, staff and families – as well as the wider community of partner primary schools, now and for years to come.”

85 editions of each print are being sold at £500 each, with money raised funding a learning programme and a series of workshops to support teachers and children in their exploration of art.