Skip to main content

Masterpieces in Schools

Today, 1st October, pupils at Trelai Primary School will be curators of a world famous masterpiece as part of Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools a new venture to inspire young people and encourage them to explore the UK’s rich and varied painting collection.

Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools will take a selection of famous paintings by the likes of Gainsborough, L. S. Lowry, Monet, Spencer and Turner, worth an estimated £14 million, into 27 schools across the nation. This is a Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) initiative, led by contemporary British artists Bob and Roberta Smith and John Byrne and supported by BBC Learning.

Trelai Primary School will use their work of art to provide inspiration right across the school day and curriculum. Pupils and teachers will use the art as the creative spark in lessons including Literacy, Art and Numeracy. From creating their own paintings and drawings of welsh landscapes to learning how to value works of art, the pupils will curate their very own art gallery for their parents and teachers to come and visit.

The project is part of Your Paintings, an ongoing initiative to increase access to the UK’s national art collection. Launched in June, 2011, the site currently shows over 200,000 oil paintings from 3,200 collection venues across the UK. Around 80% of the nation’s paintings are not on view and the vast majority had not been photographed before the Public Catalogue Foundation started work in 2003. This project has already dramatically improved access to the nation’s publicly owned art.

Each masterpiece will be accompanied by experts from the museum or gallery where it is usually displayed, who will be on hand to provide talks or expert advice during the course of the day.

Supporting these activities, the BBC website will feature curriculum-based slideshows full of ideas for using paintings in the classroom. Designed to inspire schools to use great art in teaching and learning, they are complemented by profiles of different careers in the art world. The website already includes many resources for teachers to use, including a guide to artistic styles and movements; biographies of some of the world’s greatest artists; and over 200,000 artworks with details of where to see them for real.
More information about the Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools project, including examples of pieces of work undertaken by students at participating schools, will be featured on a dedicated website, which can be accessed from Your Paintings once the project is underway.

Bob and Roberta Smith said: ‘Putting great art in schools is a really wonderful project; all children deserve not only to appreciate and understand art, but also to have hands on first hand experience of working with materials. How exciting to have an amazing artwork in your school then to go to the art room or classroom and make something amazing yourself.’

John Byrne comments: ‘I am so looking forward to taking part in this project. I remember how important my art lessons were to me as a child; they inspired me to draw for the other children in the playground.

‘When I was just ten and at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school, we travelled to Glasgow every Saturday for six months to be shown films about the great artists Samuel Palmer, William Blake, Rembrandt and more. This was a fantastic inspiration that I have remembered all my life, and hopefully this amazing project will inspire the next generation of artists.’

Saul Nassé, Controller, BBC Learning said: ‘We know that first hand experiences can transform a child’s learning, for students to have the chance to see a genuine masterpiece in the school where they make their own art is bound to inspire them to ever greater achievements.’

Andrew Ellis, Director of the PCF, comments: ‘ Raising awareness of the nation’s rich collection of public art is central to the work of the PCF. Masterpieces in Schools takes great art into the classroom to encourage interest at an early age. We hope all the children will be left with the lasting memory of the day a Monet, Turner or Gainsborough came to their school.  

‘The PCF is grateful to the BBC, and the 27 museums and schools for supporting this unique programme. We’d also like to thank our generous sponsors Hiscox.’

Masterpieces in Schools will be taking place in Primary and Secondary schools across the UK from 1st to 18th October.

Further Information

Elin - Hâf, 01970 632471 or