Art in schools can change lives, claims new book

Monday 9 December 2013

Artworks, such as wall murals in schools, are not merely decorative but can have a long-term impact on a school community, claims The Decorated School, co-edited by Art Historian Dr Jeremy Howard.

Dr Howard, a senior lecturer in the School of Art History at the University and a renowned specialist in the relationship between art and education, co-edited the new collection of studies.

The book, published by Black Dog Publishing this month, brings educationalists and Art Historians together for the first time to study the impact of artworks such as murals, sculpture and other forms of art in schools.

Beautifully produced, the book includes a variety of illustrations and studies of specific artworks around the world with individual chapters focusing on examples from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, France, Denmark, USA, Japan and Kyrgyzstan. In a rare collaboration between staff and students, four chapters are authored by St Andrews scholars.

A key topic is the Edinburgh Schools Beautiful Scheme of the 1930s and Dr Howard examines the few remaining works, their history and impact.

Dr Howard said: “The artworks of 1930s Edinburgh schools that I write about were created at a time of severe economic depression, and at very little expense. It was an example of great partnership between different parties.  Likewise those created, for example, in Hertfordshire in the 1950s and those in Bishkek of the 1990s –  their installation takes vision and a certain resourcefulness from those in authority.”

Dr Shona Kallestrup, Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Art History at the University, is a specialist in the art of Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe. Her contribution to the book is a chapter on two major decorative commissions for a school in Denmark by artist and former teacher Asger Jorn. She examines how his belief in the democratisation of art encouraged all to make their own interpretations of his work.

Art History undergraduate at St Andrews, Julia Lysogrorova, who was born into a Russian family, writes a chapter on the impact of Soviet and Post-Soviet art at her former school in Kyrgyzstan and how the Stalinist reliefs and contemporary murals there reflect two education systems with differing ideologies.

She concludes: “In regard to its artistic form, the school becomes not only preparation for life but part of life itself.”

Also at St Andrews, Art History and English undergraduate Emma Duff from Northern Ireland, writes a chapter on the school and public murals of Belfast and examines how the “unassuming schoolchild evolves into a potent visual weapon” in the artwork of the Troubles and their aftermath.

Note to Editors

Dr Jeremy Howard is available by email: [email protected].
For images please contact the press office.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108 / 0771 414 0559.
Ref: (decorated school 09/11/13)
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