George Chapman Rhondda Valley picture on Antiques Roadshow

It was nice to be alerted to a picture by George Chapman that was once part of the Inner London Education Authority art collection popping up on Antiques Roadshow, filmed at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, at the end of March.

The picture was inherited from the owner of a junk shop – who had possibly acquired it from a dustman (something that is sadly indicative of the value in which many of these former collections are now held)!

George Chapman’s pictures of industrial life and townscapes in the Rhondda Valley were best-sellers at Pictures for Schools, along with many of the artists associated with the Great Bardfield Group in Essex.

The Antiques Roadshow presenter/expert explained that the purpose of such socialist realist pictures was to teach children from inner London about subjects outside London.

The organisers of Pictures for Schools also believed that children needed to see original artworks by contemporary British artists close-up in order to appreciate and understand their materiality (something you couldn’t get from books or reproductions), and one thing that struck me (having only seen Chapman pieces in books and online) was how big this piece is.

Industry and the Welsh landscape was a common theme among artists who exhibited at Pictures for Schools and there was a parallel series of Pictures for Welsh Schools exhibitions between 1951 and the mid-1980s aimed specifically at providing artworks for Welsh schools (with a greater proportion of Welsh artists showing than at the English exhibitions.

Thankfully the current owner of the picture holds it in higher value than its former owners and intends for it to be given to a rural art space in Wales.

Watch the Antiques Roadshow episode online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000gpqg/antiques-roadshow-series-42-national-botanic-garden-of-wales-1.

Find out more about George Chapman and see more of his work at the Fry Art Gallery: https://fryartgallery.blog/category/exhibitions/george-chapman-1908-1993-from-bardfield-to-the-rhondda/



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