Leeds children’s touching tribute to art teacher

TRIBUTE: Clapgate Primary School dedicated an art show to its teacher and Leeds Little Free Libraries founder Carry Franklin, pictured.
TRIBUTE: Clapgate Primary School dedicated an art show to its teacher and Leeds Little Free Libraries founder Carry Franklin, pictured.

School pupils paid a fitting tribute to a Leeds art teacher who died last month.

Children at Clapgate Primary School in Belle Isle dedicated their end-of-year art show to Carry Franklin who passed away in June, aged 47.

Year 1 artwork at the tribute art show to Clapgate Primary School teacher Carry Franklin.

Year 1 artwork at the tribute art show to Clapgate Primary School teacher Carry Franklin.

Art and drama teacher Carry was also the founder of the Leeds Little Free Libraries project - a book exchange scheme which has snowballed across Leeds (See fact file).

The school in South Leeds remembered their inspirational teacher by staging a show full of paintings, weaving, sculptures and Viking puppets.

Fellow art teacher Kirsty Webster said: “Carry worked at Clapgate for over ten years, she was an amazing art and drama teacher with an insatiable zest for life and this permeated everything that she did.

“The first ever Clapgate Primary School art show was held as an opportunity for children, staff and parents to remember and celebrate her life. There was art work showcased from nursery to year six, with every child being represented by a piece of work.

The Alice in Wonderland themed  Little Free Library outside Clapgate Primary School, Belle Isle where Carry Franklin taught.

The Alice in Wonderland themed Little Free Library outside Clapgate Primary School, Belle Isle where Carry Franklin taught.

“Drawing, painting, textiles and sculpture were on display with lots of children and parents taking great pride in their art work. There was also an opportunity for the children and their parents to write memories of Ms Franklin in a memory book which was passed on to her family.”

Carry’s partner Dave Bache also attended the art show, which he thought was “wonderful”. There was also a slide slow of photographs showing lots of different things Carry did at school.

Kirsty said Carry was also heavily involved in the Artsmark, the creative quality standard for schools that is accredited by Arts Council England. Carry also was instrumental in setting up the school’s Arts Council, which features a group of children who strive to make improvements in the arts.

Kirsty said: “The children had really strong, happy memories of Carry.”

ART: Years five and six pupils did paintings, weaving and made puppets for the show.

ART: Years five and six pupils did paintings, weaving and made puppets for the show.

She added: “The end of year art show was a great success with lots of children and families attending. It was a very fitting and uplifting way to remember our dear colleague and great friend, Carry Franklin. “The children really loved her. She was fantastic and she was really outgoing and vivacious. She was an amazing teacher. She just brought learning to life for the children. She used bits of drama in the lesson and made it really fun. The children enjoyed them.

“We wanted, through the art show, to honour Carry’s memory for all the things she did.”

Kirsty said the children loved seeing their handiwork on the wall during the end-of-year art show earlier this month.

The teacher said the art show also coincided with the special delivery of a Leeds Little Free Library within the school grounds. The wooden and glass cabinet was kindly donated by Carry’s family in London. The library box is painted in the theme of Alice In Wonderland - Carry’s favourite book.

Kirsty said “Carry was much loved not only by her colleagues and friends at Clapgate but also throughout the city of Leeds due to her pivotal role in the setting up of the Leeds Little Free Libraries.”

The teacher said Carry came up with the book exchange idea in the summer of 2017. The first one was in Headingley near Carry’s home. They then spread rapidly across Leeds.

Kirsty said: “Carry loved books and was passionate about reading. She wanted children and adults to have access to books at no cost. The key word in Leeds Little Free Libraries is free.”

Fact file:

Art and drama teacher Carry Franklin founded the Leeds Little Free Libraries project in 2017.

It is a free book exchange where you take a book and leave one in return.

The colourful book cabinets all have different decor.

Carry and other local artists painted many of the brightly-coloured boxes we see on our streets.

She built the first free literature kiosk outside her house in Headingley. It proved incredibly popular with people of all ages, from children to pensioners.

The idea spread across Leeds where there now more than 40 of them. The Little Free Libraries project has also expanded to Bradford.

Carry told the YEP back in November: “We are so pleased with how fast the project has grown. It’s been totally grassroots, with communities all over Leeds requesting their own libraries and now it has snowballed into a little movement.”

After Carry’s death in June residents were urged to pay homage to her by festooning the library boxes with fairy lights as a tribute.

A message on the Little Free Library Facebook page said: “If you want to mark her wonderful legacy and help her on her way, we invite you to put fairy lights on your libraries on the 7th. Let’s spread the love across this whole city and keep her project alive.”

To find out more about the library project and your nearest one search for @leedslittlefreelibrary on Facebook.