School Prints was a scheme stated in the middle of the twentieth century whereby artists were commissioned for works from which prints were subsequently given to schools. The scheme fell out of favour with the changes in education policy in the seventies. However the Hepworth Wakefield revived the idea in 2018 with a five year programme for the benefit of local schools.
The 2021 School Prints feature six of the most well known black painters: Hurvin Anderson, Alvaro Barrington, Sir Frank Bowling, Lubaina Himid, Claudette Johnson, and Yinka Shonibare.
Alvaro Barrington is my choice of print as it seems to speak so loudly for the generations not to lose connection at this critical time for young people. Grandma’s Hands is an image which Barrington’s From his own hands representing his memory of his Grandma praying for his family as they moved from Venezuela to Brooklyn in New York.
Barrington says of the work “I remember thinking about her praying, and I think her prayers today make me want to be better, do better, make her proud. It’s a drawing to remind me of her prayers and of wanting to make her proud.”
Covid, the story of our time, is also hinted at in this work. The artist adds “She gave us hope for the future because she dealt with us at our worst time and loved us , I think there will be a moment where a lot of these kids are going to come out of this moment with new scars, and it’s going to play out in very complicated ways.”
Alvaro Barrington was born in Venezuela in 1983 and moved to New York when he was eight. He has had numerous solo shows both there and in London, where he studied at the Slade School of Art. While mainly a figurative painter he often adds other materials to his works reminding him of his Caribbean background, including hessian and other plants.
He also has works at the current Hayward Gallery exhibition celebrating contemporary painting.
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It is good to see this great idea restored