On 30 April Christie’s will hold a charity auction of works by leading artists and Royal Academicians to benefit Young Art, a charity which benefits research into children’s cancer. Every year over 7,000 entries are submitted to the Young Art competition, from children aged four to 18 at schools around the UK. The winning works and the runners up will be exhibited at the Royal College of Art from 28 April to 1 May. Here two of the judges, Ken Howard RA and Nicola Bayley, a renowned children’s book illustrator, talk about their interest in art as children and the importance of the Young Art cause.
Professor Ken Howard RA, Patron of Young Art
Ken Howard © Photograph by Hayley Nia Thomas
I became involved with Young Art because I lost my late wife to cancer. Cancer is always a tragedy but in young people it’s even worse.
Whatever you do, keep on painting because it enriches your life. Drawing and painting are a way of seeing. As soon as people start to make art they begin to see the world as it is.
I’ve never had a monthly wage in my life. I made my living doing all sorts of things — at one stage I used to illustrate telephone directories — but painting was the only thing I wanted to do and I think one should do what one wants to do.
I had a very good art teacher at grammar school. He said to me, ‘if you want to earn a living painting, Howard, you’ve got to do two things: you’ve got to get to the RCA and you’ve got to become an RA.’ I’d vaguely heard of the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy but I thought that was another world. I was 50 by the time I became an RA but I always believed I would because that man sowed the seed.
Competition entry by Lewis Woolf
I sold my first painting when I was 14 for £2. That was quite a lot of money in 1946. I sold it to a man who made tractors called David Brown and ended up as DB of Aston Martin.
I love Venice. Everywhere you look there’s a subject and the light is incredible because of the reflection off water. I’m mainly inspired by light. I’m very traditional; the critics don’t particularly like me ’cause I’m not doing anything particularly avant-garde.
I’ve painted the queen; she was wonderful. I was terrified. I thought if I make a bish of this I’ll really be in trouble, but luckily it worked out alright.
Nicola Bayley, children’s book illustrator
Nicola Bayley © Photograph by Hayley Nia Thomas
I was very young when I first became interested in art. I went to a convent school and my house would always win the craft prize because I would flood the competition with drawings.
A very good way to learn is copying. I used to slavishly copy people like Ronald Searle, El Greco, Pauline Baynes, Kathleen Hale and the most influential of all, Rex Whistler. They still inspire me and I also love Quentin Blake, the master of the line.
My favourite work of art is Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. I saw it at the National Gallery and it was the only time I've spontaneously had a tear in my eye from a work of art. One year they beamed it onto the front of the building — it was sublime seeing this great mighty horse rearing up on the facade.
Competition entry by Ambre Bertrand
City living is such a versatile topic and the children answered it in so many different ways. My favourite piece of art from the exhibition has to be the one I chose for First Prize in the Year 2–3 category by Lewis Woolf (above). It was a bold choice, so confident in one so young and a very fine piece of observation, drawing and colour.
Once you've had Young Art explained to you, it's hard to say no to being involved. I am inspired every time I do it and humbled at how brilliant these children are. I love the whole process. It encourages children and gives them a sense of achievement. It makes them brave. I like the fact that the pictures are properly respected and beautifully hung for the exhibition, quite apart from the importance of raising money for such an important charity. It wrings your heart, that it's children helping children.
YOUNG ART: 25th anniversary exhibition City Living, featuring an exclusive auction of works by leading artists and Royal Academicians to benefit Cancer Research UK. Tuesday 28 April — Friday 1 May 2015. The Royal College of Art
Main image at top: Competition entry by Eleanor Philpott. Interviews by Maria Howard and India Jaques
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