Today, 23 November 2015, pupils at Coed Eva Primary School, Cwmbran were curators of a world famous masterpiece in a National Library of Wales project funded by ScottishPower Foundation as part of the Welsh Government Fusion Programme, tackling poverty through culture.
The prestigious painting of Dolbadarn Castle by Joseph Mallord William Turner - a centrepiece of the National Library’s important collection of art - was transported to Cwmbran for the day in a surprise event attended by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM.
The Welsh Government’s Fusion: Tackling Poverty through Culture programme aims to provide opportunities for young people and adults from some of Wales’ most deprived communities to engage with art and culture by linking cultural bodies more closely with the Communities First programme.
Unveiling the painting, the Deputy Minister said: “I believe that culture, heritage and the arts can play a powerful role in people’s lives. Taking part can help engage young people and boost skills, self-esteem and aspiration and we are providing many more opportunities to do so through our Fusion programme.
“It’s been fascinating learning about the work from the pupils today and see their interest and imagination sparked by coming face to face with an iconic piece of art. It is a very exciting project.”
Throughout the day, pupils enjoyed three workshops held by The National Library of Wales Education team. Pupils were able to work close-up with the painting, learn about its history and importance and hear more about the life of the artist, J. M. W. Turner. During the workshops, pupils also investigated the importance of landscape art through working with digital copies of the National Library’s artwork that are freely available online.
The Turner oil painting was bought by the National Library in 1998 and depicts the moments when Owain Goch was captured by his brother Llewelyn Ap Gruffudd, and imprisoned at Dolbadarn tower from 1255 until 1277.
Pupils were in awe as the valuable painting was unveiled by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.
Linda Tomos, Chief Executive and Librarian,The National Library of Wales added: “This project demonstrates how our national art collections can be key resources for supporting schools across Wales, particularly in those areas where children may not have opportunities to see great works of art. The accompanying workshops are designed to directly contribute to the delivery of the curriculum. I am determined to ensure that the National Library's collections can and should be exploited by schools to inspire and support learning and teaching.”
Perminderjit K. Mudher, Torfaen Communities First added: “The opportunity for pupils, staff and parents at Coed Eva school to view Turner's Dolbadarn Castle is a welcome one, one that closely aligns to the Communities First based Pioneer Area programme in Torfaen. Promoting Welsh art, culture and history is a key theme as are innovative approaches to tackling poverty through engagement with the arts and culture. We hope that the painting, a welcome loan from The National Library of Wales for the day, provides inspiration and provokes further study.”
The ScottishPower Foundation has supported National Library of Wales literary initiatives since 2014.
Ann Loughrey, Trustee and Executive Officer at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students of Coed Eva school and we’re delighted to be playing a role in making it happen. The ScottishPower Foundation is committed to supporting young people in local communities across the UK in the advancement of their education, so we are thrilled to be involved.”