School pupils from across Sheffield have been picking up paintbrushes to show off their talents at the city’s biggest junior art exhibition - also the largest of its kind in the UK.
The annual Sheffield Young Artists Exhibition has returned for its 11th year, with more than 1,000 pictures going on show at Ponds Forge sports centre in the city centre.
Entrants from nearly 60 local schools, ranging in age from four to 18, gathered to see their work on display, with prizes presented to winners in different categories.
The city’s Lord Mayor, Coun Peter Rippon, officially opened the event, which Ken Marshall, from organisers Abbeydale Rotary Club, said had a ‘great atmosphere’.
“All of the schools brought children - one school had a mini coach with 24 children on board,” he said.
“They were so excited, not just about receiving their certificates but also about looking around and getting ideas. Because that’s what’s great about art - continuity. Some of the work is of a very high standard.”
Special displays included work produced by youngsters from the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, the Children’s Hospital and from a group of orphans in Zimbabwe.
“People coming for the first time are amazed,” said Ken.
“They say ‘We didn’t know about this’, and it’s the 11th year we’ve been running it. We’ve got to generate more recognition of this talent.
“If a child was good at sport or music, there are many opportunities to show off their talent. If you’re good at art, it’s either seen in school or in your grandma’s kitchen.
“It’s almost a hidden thing.”
He added: “I’ve heard that some younger children, once they have entered the exhibition, have been completely changed when they go back into school, because of this recognition. Art has given them a bit of self esteem.”
There is another chance to see all 1,100 pictures during a follow-up exhibition in the Town Hall on May 25 and 26. The Young Artists also have a marquee at Art in the Gardens - the annual event in the Botanical Gardens - as well as a special section at the Great Sheffield Art Show. A special show is also organised at the Millennium Galleries for A-level students, which Ken said is a good opportunity for young people to receive careers advice.
“People from business, industry and commerce, as well as medicine and education, are available there for children to approach for, essentially, speed networking,” said Ken.
“Art is useful for many jobs. It’s being re-evaluated as an important subject.”
He continued: “One of the difficulties is that art was previously seen as a ‘fill in’ subject, to make up the three A-levels a student can choose.
“It’s now quite a worthwhile area because of the different careers people can follow. One example is the computer gaming industry - a background in art is certainly worthwhile there.
“I once got talking to a plastic surgeon and they said that if they started working on a client who needs reconstruction, they wouldn’t take a photo, instead they would just do a basic sketch. You don’t realise this.
“One of the biggest growth areas is art therapy - most hospices and hospitals have an art therapist.”
Ken said a similar exhibition is now being held by Rotary in Hull, inspired by the success in Sheffield, and that he had ambitions to see a show organised in Chesterfield.
“These exhibitions confirm the wonderful talent about which Sheffield can be proud,” he said.