One of the most popular artists at Pictures for Schools in the 1940s and 1950s was the painter Richard Eurich, who combined an interest in the landscapes, places and everyday life around with a strong sense of imagination.
Like Pictures for Schools founder Nan Youngman, Eurich trained at the Slade in the 1920s.
He was interested in creating work appealing to children, and in 1946 held an exhibition at the Redfren Gallery in London entitled Paintings for Children.
A regular contributor to Pictures for Schools, his work sold to education authorities around the country, including Kent, Cambridge, Hull, Oxfordshire and London County Council, and schools including Keighley Girls’ Grammar School.
His work ranged from relatable, familial and domestic scenes, such as a table set for a birthday tea party, a Christmas-time performance of Twelfth Night, and a seaside cottage with a neatly arranged garden, to epic, panoramic seascapes. His paintings were voted favourites by child visitors to the Pictures for Schools exhibitions, who appreciated their sense of detail, several times.
A native of Bradford, Eurich’s work is represented in public collections including Cartwright Hall in Bradford and Nottingham Castle Museum.
A fascinating new book written by Andrew Lambirth and published by Lund Humphries explores Eurich’s work, influences and career, from his time as a war artist to his preoccupation with the sea and his admiration of JMW Turner.
The book can be purchased online at https://www.lundhumphries.com/products/75467. There is also a recording of the book launch, featuring Eurich’s daughter Philippa Bambach, as well as the art historian Frances Spalding, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkTudq8m0EA&feature=youtu.be&mc_cid=37a134f4d3&mc_eid=15aa79c702.
Thanks to Dr Emma West for inviting me to write a guest blog post about Pictures for Schools founder Nan Youngman for her research blog Revolutionary Red Tape, as part of ‘Advocates for the Arts’, a series about pioneering women. Emma is currently undertaking an enviable post-doc at Birmingham University focusing on culture in public places in twentieth-century Britain.
Read my blog post online here: https://emmawest.art.blog/2020/05/04/advocates-for-the-arts-nan-youngman/
I spent my PhD reading books by and about the writer, poet, anarchist and critic Herbert Read – a supporter of Pictures for Schools, who believed in the power of art education and children’s potential as artists – but never fully felt I got the measure of his multifaceted life and career.
A small but extremely thoughtfully curated exhibition at Treasure of the Brotherton, in the library building at the University of Leeds (where Read, a Yorkshireman’s papers are held), offers an interesting way into Read’s life and work. Curated by the artist Stephen Sutcliffe, it picks out ephemera from his archive, highlighting different sides of his life, from Yorkshire family man, to intellectual and anti-war campaigner, and the matters that were important to him.
One of the things that comes across most strongly in the exhibition – through correspondence from figures such as Isa and Walter Gropius and many of the leading artists of the day, as well as a series of annotated napkins from his 70th birthday dinner in London in 1967 – was his place in the British and international intelligentsia, and the high regard in which he was held as a friend, writer and thinker, in the fields of art, design and beyond.
‘Art in an Electric Atmosphere’ is on until Saturday 1 August. For more information visit https://library.leeds.ac.uk/events/event/1900/galleries/224/art-in-an-electric-atmosphere-the-library-and-archive-of-herbert-read.
Following hot on the heels of But What If We Tried? at Touchstones, Rochdale in 2019, which attempted to display the entirety of the borough’s publicly owned art collection at once, Manchester Art Gallery is offering an insight into its sculpture stores (only 3 per cent of the collection is usually on display at any one time). About 25 per cent can be seen in the current exhibition, Out of the Crate, which explores and highlights how the work came to be in the collection and asks for information about some of the work (it’s not always clear who the work is by or how it got there!).
Many of Britain’s best-known nineteenth, twentieth century and contemporary sculptors are represented in the collection, working across a variety of styles and media, from portraiture to modernism. My favourite piece was ‘Rocking Chair No. 4’ (1950), a tiny bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, which was bequeathed to the gallery in 2012 by Harry M Fairhurst, architect of the UMIST campus and the renowned Hollaway Wall. Freeze-framing a small moment of familiar tenderness, but blurring both human and animal forms, its intimate scale made me long to pick it up and handle it and see if it actually rocked!
Some of the sculptures in the collection had been purchased for educational purposes, from the Horsfall Art Museum, which aimed to bring beauty to industrial Ancoats, to pieces from the Rutherston Loan Collection (now accessioned into the main collection) which was established in the 1920s to lend work to schools and educational establishments in the north of England.
Although this scheme is no longer in operation, one of the most interesting aspects of the exhibition is documentation of a project involving a group of boys from Burnage Academy, who were asked to choose a sculpture to display in their school for a day via Art UK’s ‘Masterpieces in Schools’ initiative. Just as Pictures for Schools aimed to ask searching questions of child visitors through the provision of questionnaires about the exhibitions, and to encourage them to see themselves as patrons of art, the students were encouraged to look critically at the artworks, how they were made and what they represented, as well as to think about the role of a curator. It was fascinating to read their rationale about what would stimulate discussion and what their peers would find interesting, and the types of questions they asked of the work, such as “Is the paper ball an actual sculpture?” (their eventual choice of ‘Cobra’, a 1925 sculpture by Jean Demand, narrowly beat Martin Creed’s conceptual ‘Work No 88: A Sheet of A4 Paper Crumpled Into A Ball’).
Out of the Crate is at Manchester Art Gallery until Sunday 28 November 2021: https://manchesterartgallery.org/exhibitions-and-events/exhibition/out-of-the-crate/
The writer and collector Robjn Cantus has posted a really interesting blog about works in his collection which he purchased from the sale of the Hertfordshire County Collection; several pieces were purchased from Pictures for Schools, including prints by Alistair Grant, Michael Rothenstein and Julia Ball. It’s great to find out more about the biographies of the artists, some of whom I have heard of but many who are new to me.