Monday 21st March 2011
Three children aged between 8 and 11 were feted in London after winning a special art competition celebrating the life and work of a recently discovered local talent.
Readers of The Chesterfield Post will recall the exhibition held at Chesterfield Museum featuring the work of recently discovered local artist Stanley Dyson.
Stanley had taught at New Whittington Secondary School in the '50's, moving to Norfolk in later years. His works had been stored in his attic and, after his death in 2007, sold by his daughter at auction.
They were bought by London Gallery, Robert Youngs and, upon the discovery that some of the paintings were by his pupils, some as young as 12 at the time, the owners of the gallery set about researching the story behind the art.
In order to try and trace some of the child artists, bringing some of the paintings to Chesterfield seemed like a natural step and the gamble paid off, with many of Stanley's pupils attending the exhibition in Chesterfield Museum. One, Michael Cronin, even thought he recognized one of the unidentified children's works as his own.
On Thursday last week, the London exhibition of the paintings began at the Robert Young Gallery, with the paintings already having sold like hot cakes. Attended by over 150 guests, including Stanley's daughter herself, the evening was described by a spokeswoman for the Gallery as, "a triumph".
However, In an already personal story, there was one final chapter.
The school where Stanley taught is now New Whittington Primary School. In order to ensure that Stanley's legacy would live on in his hometown, Robert Young's worked with the school to instigate an art competition, the winners of which would attend the exhibition opening, see their pictures displayed alongside those of the Master and his pupils and a win a trophy that would be donated to the school, to become the annual 'Stanley Dyson Art Prize', in memory of the former teacher.
After being given a brief of a 'memorable place in Chesterfield', many entries were submitted to the gallery staff by the school, some from children as young as 6. In what was described as a difficult decision, three winners were selected, along with 4 mor 'highly commended'.
The three winners, all experiencing their first trip to London were:
Emily Mae Fane, pictured above with the winning painting, (Y4) - 1st prize,
Kayleigh Squires (Y6) - 2nd prize
Ellie Potts, (Y6) - 3rd prize
Highly commended were:
Leo Chan, Y1
Jake Hobson Y1
Heidi Hurst, Y6
Jaden Bull, Y3
The winners were awarded medals, money for art materials and a cup along with framed copies of their pictures, which had been displayed at the gallery for guests to see.
At the prizegiving, Robert Youngs' gallery owner talked of the "amazing bundle of art from Stanley's home town of Chesterfield, which we looked at and In our subjective way picked three winners".
In response, Karen Johnson, Chair of Governors at the school thanked Robert Youngs for their generosity towards the children and the school and also in sharing the story of Stanley with Chesterfield. It had, she said, "captured the imagination of the town - everyone in the town is very proud of Stanley, the school is very proud of Stanley too."
A spokeswoman for the gallery later added, "The Exhibition was a real triumph. To date we have sold something over 50 of the paintings and to a wide-ranging and appreciative clientele. We had people who came from Derbyshire, one of whom bought six of Stanley's early topographical works on paper.
"Over 150 people attended the preview during the course of the evening and people were still here when the company came to dismantle the tented awning.
"It has been a fabulous adventure for all of us since Robert and Josyane first discovered these works and the opening was a joyful climax to all of our preparations. The award will be a wonderful and natural way to ensure that the Stanley Dyson legacy will, in however small a way, live on in his home town.
"The girls were so open and friendly and seemed largely undaunted to be with us and the smiles on their faces at the prize giving will stay with us for ages.
"I know it is commonly said, but we really did struggle to select the prizewinners and hope that ALL the contributing children will be thanked and congratulated for their efforts and that the highly commended ones will get a special mention.
"Art is so subjective and one work is often no better than another, it maybe just speaks differently to whoever is looking at it, therefore any number of them could be 'winners' in other people's eyes. It is of course our hope that this will in some way go towards encouraging the kids to see joy in their art and to somehow feel that just making and creating it can be worthwhile, just for its own sake."
The last word went to Emily Mae who, before arriving at the exhibition had visited Buckingham Palace and seen the Queen drive past, as well as visiting the Natural History Museum, declared it had been, "The best day of my life!"
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