Classroom calm is a teacher’s dream but it isn’t very often that art lessons leave pupils awestruck.
Yet one very special surprise visitor to the art room at Meadowfield Primary School, in Halton Moor, left youngsters offering more than admiring glances yesterday.
All 430 pupils at the east Leeds primary were bowled over when they were invited to study a world famous painting, thought to be worth around £800,000, that had been installed in the school for a one-off exhibition day.
Security guards and gallery staff brought the original Stanley Spencer ‘Gardening’ under a cloak of secrecy from Leeds Art Gallery as part of the Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools scheme.
Meadowfield’s headteacher Helen Stout told the YEP: “We actually feel honoured that it’s our school that it has come to.
“You can go out to the art galleries and see work but for the fact that a piece of fine art has come to our school is really quite unique.
“The children and the staff are really itching to come and see this masterpiece that’s hanging in our school.”
Thanking Leeds Art Gallery for selecting Meadowfield to benefit from the scheme, she said the artwork’s themes of working together and sustainability fit perfectly with its own message to children.
All the school’s pupils, from nursery to Year 6, were given time with art experts to admire the painting, explore the meaning behind it and learn about the techniques used to craft it before getting creative themselves.
Ms Stout said: “The children had no idea. The first group were able to see it being unwrapped and being fixed to the wall but trying to comprehend its worth is something that’s very difficult.”
The school now hopes to buy a print of the piece as a reminder of its visit.
Supported by BBC Learning and the Public Catalogue Foundation, the initiative will take famous paintings by the likes of Gainsborough, L. S. Lowry, Monet and Turner, worth an estimated £14m, into 27 UK schools this month.
Contemporary artist John Byrne, who is among those leading the project, said: “Hopefully this amazing project will inspire the next generation of artists.”
The project is part of Your Paintings, an ongoing initiative to increase access to the UK’s national art collection.
Saul Nassé, controller at BBC Learning, added: “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.”
Visit www.bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings for information on the project.