The Latest Ingenious Fundraising Idea-School Art Auctions Including Work by Pupils and Turner Prize Winners
Millard, Rosie, New Statesman (1996)
Should you sell your child's works of art? Should you commercially market the innocent outpourings of your offspring; and if you're going to flog the stuff, how should you value their delightful daubs anyway? I know Picasso took a lifetime to learn how to paint like a child, but if you are already a child, it doesn't follow that you are a Picasso.
Two of the junior Millards go to Islington's Hanover Primary School, and these questions arose because of a school art auction. These events are ingenious fundraisers, and quite the thing in east London schools at the moment, probably because of the many artists and galleries already there. The idea is that the school puts on an exhibition, the bulk of which features work by the pupils, which devoted parents will buy anyway, and then adds a few fireworks to make the collecting jar really rattle. According to my sources, a primary school in the neighbouring borough of Hackney has just had a similar event, featuring work from Tracey Emin alongside a piece from a Chapman Brother. Not to be outdone, our school responded with a signed Chris Ofili print and a portrait of an Arsenal player from the Guardian's star photographer Eamonn McCabe. After all, the Chapmans are mere Turner Prize nominees. Ofili, as the posters along the school corridor reminded us every morning, is a Turner winner. I had the honour of opening the whole shebang during assembly.
So, I asked, who has been to a gallery before? Ninety per cent of the children put their hands up. Well, this is Islington. Helped by a trio of children and some National Gallery posters, we cantered through a fairly idiosyncratic history of the western gallery, starting off with Royal Collections (which we illustrated by Van Dyck's equestrian portrait of Charles I), moving through Private Money (Girl with a Kitten by Perronneau), towards something I entitled Broadening Out (Yellow Chair by Van Gogh). …