Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Decorated School: a great project

I was lucky yesterday to attend, as a complete amateur, a day conference in Welwyn Garden City (where I’d never been) in a 1950s primary school by the innovatory school architects of Hertfordshire County Council who, although in straitened financial times, specified that 0.3 of 1 per cent of the building fund for each school had to be spent on work by a contemporary artist. The artists were straight out of art school and so not too expensive, but some of the work was wonderful.

Here, for instance, are murals by Pat Tew in Templewood School, where we were yesterday.

This is from the very rich blog of the Decorated School project, a network of educationists, art historians, architects and architectural organisations, coordinated by Dr Catherine Burke, a historian of education at Cambridge, and and Dr Jeremy Howard from Art History at the University of St Andrews. See the impressive list of partners on the project blog.

The blog has lots more great images, historical comment and storied of rescues. (Note Little Red Riding Hood at the top of the first page.)

It was a great conference because it included one (at least) of the original architects, people who knew Pat Tew and experts of a great variety of kinds, including an American academic, Roy Kozlovsky, who talked about how colour featured in post-war primary schools as symbolic both of the freshness of childhood and of a revolution in education.

Part of the project’s purpose is to discover and save from destruction all the works by artists in schools in England, Scotland and some European countries. Great initiative.

We also learned about the wonderful collection of works similarly purchased by Hertfordshire County Council at the period, which they were trying to catalogue until they were recently sacked.

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