The Hepworth Wakefield is reviving a 1940s project to bring contemporary art to children in schools, aiming to address the “devaluing of creativity in education”. School Prints originally saw some of the most important British and European artists of the post-war era, including L.S. Lowry, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso, commissioned to create lithographs to be displayed in schools.
For a new set of prints, The Hepworth has commissioned Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, Haroon Mirza and Rose Wylie to do the same. Each has created an artwork to be lithograph printed in limited edition and given to six Wakefield schools, which will also be offered as low-cost posters with teaching resources to schools nationally.
The artists were given the original 1940s brief: “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.”
Antony Gormley has also donated a drawing to the gallery to loan out to local schools as part of the project, and a print to be sold alongside the commissioned works.
Simon Wallis, director of the gallery, said: “In September 2017, it was announced that the number of pupils taking arts subjects at GCSE had fallen to the lowest level in a decade. 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, even though entrance to the gallery is free. Museums and galleries have a crucial role to play in addressing this devaluing of creativity in the education of our children.”
School Prints will run for five years, commissioning a different group of artists each year. Sales from editions of the prints will fund a learning programme for teachers and children in “their explorations of art and its relevance across the curriculum”.
An exhibition of the 2018 School Prints and a selection of the 1940s prints will be on display at The Hepworth Wakefield until 3 June 2018. Another show of just the contemporary works will also be open at Phillips, Berkeley Square until 25 January.