12 February 2013

Youngsters create shipshape ideas for art exhibition

youngsters taking part in Ships and Boats exhibition

Youngsters at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Harwich with their art work

Primary schools are taking inspiration from the watery work of Alfred Wallis for a new exhibition at Art Exchange at the University of Essex.

More than 100 pieces of art created by local youngsters will be on show as part of the exhibition Ships and Boats at Art Exchange based at the Colchester Campus from Saturday 16 February to Monday 18 February from 12 to 4pm.

The works are inspired by the paintings featured in Art Exchange’s current show Alfred Wallis’s Ships and Boats.

Schools contributing to the show include Wix and Wrabness Primary School, Walton on the Naze Primary School, Great Clacton CE Junior School, Frobisher Primary School in Jaywick and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Harwich.

Clare Shortcook, Arts Education Outreach Officer at the University, said: “We have over 100 pieces of art created by young people from the area and we look forward to welcoming the public to come down and experience the artistic talents of our next generation.”

Alfred Wallis was an experienced fisherman who lived in St Ives and took up painting in the 1920s after the death of his wife. He is famous for the evocative seascapes he painted from his memory and is celebrated for his naïve style which influenced many painters.

Student Samantha Johnson has been working with Clare on the project through the University’s unique frontrunners work placement scheme. She said: “The pupils took inspiration from the current exhibition being shown at the Gallery, to create their own artistic responses. Using limited colours and oddly shaped card like Wallis, the children painted boat and ship scenes from their memory and imagination.”

Background information about Alfred Wallis’s Ships and Boats at Art Exchange

In 1964, the newly established University of Essex received a donation from Jim Ede, a collector of British-based artists who went on to set up Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. As new universities were built in the 1960s, full of post-war optimism, Ede declared that there “should be a Kettle’s Yard in every University” and gave a number of works, including five paintings by Alfred Wallis for the University to start a fledgling collection of its own. For this exhibition, Art Exchange at the Colchester Campus reunites the Alfred Wallis paintings from the University of Essex’s Jim Ede Collection, with the collection they were originally born out of, Kettle’s Yard.

Living in St. Ives, Cornwall and with no training, Alfred Wallis took up painting late in life, ‘for company’ after the death of his wife. Previously, he had worked as a mariner, crossing the Atlantic and later working on small fishing boats. With only household oil paint in limited colours on found bits of card, Wallis made artworks that came from a robustly original vision, that he considered to be more experiences and events than paintings. ‘I do most what used to be what we shall never see no more…’ he wrote to Jim Ede, one of his most ardent collectors.

Art Exchange will continue its focus on the University of Essex’s Jim Ede collection with an exhibition at firstsite, Colchester, from 18 March to 9 June 2013.

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