It is not every day that youngsters get the chance to view a Gainsborough masterpiece right up close – and in their very own school too. But that’s what happened at The Voyager Academy in Peterborough earlier this month.
The school was part of a three-week initiative allowing 27 secondary and primary schools to borrow paintings collectively worth £14 million from museums and galleries.
Entitled “Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools”, the project enables works by artists like Gainsborough, LS Lowry, Monet, Spencer and Turner to be transported into schools for the day.
The aim of the scheme, organised by the Public Catalogue Foundation and supported by BBC Learning, is to introduce young people to the nation’s varied collection of paintings.
The Voyager Academy borrowed Gainsborough’s Portrait of Heneage Lloyd and his Sister, Lucy and more than 200 pupils took part in activities inspired by it. The work is thought to have been painted between 1748 and 1750 and is usually on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
With two security guards on hand, the painting was placed on an easel in the school’s exhibition space. Then year 7 pupils used it as inspiration for their creative writing, A level art and photography students studied its composition, and a gifted and talented group debated what the painting conveys.
“A big cheer went up when the painting arrived,” said Sara Erwin, the school’s head of art. “It was a very moving day. It was fantastic for the students to see a painting like this in the flesh rather than just looking at it in a book.”
To learn more about the project, go to www.thepcf.org.uk/what_we_do/228 CREDIT: Heneage Lloyd and his Sister, Lucy. c.1748-50. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). Oil on canvas, 64.1x81cm. Given by Charles Fairfax Murray.
CAPTION: Honoured guest: (from left) Lauren Hills, Lavender Webber, Luna Vicente and Charlotte Heard view Gainborough’s masterpiece (top image), while Hayden Sheppard and Sandra Ruksenaite, year 13 A level art students, work on their paintings inspired by the portrait (Photos: BBC Learning)