Lowry masterpiece inspires Gwent schoolchildren
6:02am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
Glan Usk primary school pupil Madison Preece places the L.S Lowry painting "Francis Street" onto the easel (1321476)
PUPILS at a Gwent school got a close-up look at a work by one of Britain's most famous artists, through a nationwide project
A hall at Glan Usk primary school, Newport, became a viewing gallery for LS Lowry's painting Francis Street, Salford which had made the short trip fromthe city's Museum and Art Gallery as part of the Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools venture.
Glan Usk is among just 27 UK schools to take delivery of a masterpiece for a day, with children across all year groups getting to view it and ask questions.
Gallery experts did their best to answer queries ranging from "why didn't he make his pictures bright and colourful?", to "why is the sky so dark?", and even "how did he hold his paintbrush?"
The children also took part in different Lowry-linked activities, such as making three-dimensional models of figures and buildings in Lowry paintings, and class paintings in his style, to writing poetry about the people in the painting and how they might be feeling.
"I liked it because it is quite detailed and there's a lot going on," said Year Four pupil Nasif Choudhury, eight.
Classmate Jacob Kinchin, eight, thought the painting was "very interesting", while Madison Preece, also eight, said the class had been looking at lots of Lowry's paintings.
Inevitably the song Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs, by Brian and Michael, was a soundtrack to much of the classroom work, but the painting itself was the pupils' main inspiration.
The painting came to Glan Usk through a Public Catalogue Foundation project, supported by BBC Learning.
As well as Lowry, paintings by artists as diverse as Gainsborough, Monet, Spencer and Turner, worth an estimated £14 million, have been involved.
At just 49.3 centimetres wide and 39 centimetres high, Francis Street, Salford belies its mundane setting by being alive with movement and human commerce.
Children and adults chat, play, walk a dog, and rock a pram. One figure leans from an upstairs window, another is propped in doorway watching the scene the artist is painting. Meanwhile the central, most brightly coloured figure fixes the viewer with a share that must have originally been directed at Lowry himself.
Francis Street, Salford was painted in 1957 and was bought shortly after its completion by Newport Museum and Art Gallery, at a time when it was seeking to improve its modern art collections.
It cost £15, quite a sum in 1957, but as Lowry's star has risen in the 56 years since he painted the scene, it has proven a wise investment.
Nowadays, Lowry scenes such as this can fetch several hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction.
The PCF is a registered charity. Its mission is to open up art in public collections for enjoyment, learning and research.
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