Pre-school children in nurseries across York and Ryedale have responded enthusiastically to the first annual York & Area Pre-school Art Competition launched in the Gazette & Herald and The Press in February, and hosted by Terrington Hall School.
Inviting entries on the theme of the popular children's book The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the competition has attracted more than 300 entries from nursery-age children across the region.
All entries will be on display at the exhibition hosted by Terrington Hall School on Saturday 19 May, to which all entrants, their families and the public are invited. Prizes for the winning entries will be presented at 12noon by the acclaimed local artist and sculptor Robert Brumby.
Visiting Terrington Hall to preview the entries, Mr Brumby, a fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and former Head of the York School of Art & Design who has exhibited at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, revealed that, aged 9, he had won a school art competition, and it was this that set him on the path to becoming an artist.
‘It was 1944 and the competition was entitled "Salute the Soldier". I was at school in Norton. Being wartime, materials were scarce. The older children - the 12 and 13 year olds - got the best materials whilst I being only 9 was given this scrap of greasy paper. The paint slid about on it and I had a job controlling it. I was so surprised to win. It was at that moment that I decided to become an artist. I still have the painting.'
‘That's all it takes, that little pat on the back at winning a competition or seeing your painting on display. It's enough to inspire a child. That's why events such as this competition are so important, and it's why I said yes to judging it,' he said. ‘To take the opportunity to give that small bit of encouragement that sets a child on their way.'
He turns to the pile of paintings and collages before him and stops before a swirling morass of deep colours evoking the deep dark wood of the story. ‘Now, that's quite something. That's worthy of a 13-year-old,' he breathes as he puts it on one side. ‘Look at the way the paint has been dabbed on and the texture.'
Asked what he was looking for in the entries, he replied: ‘What I'm looking for is the spark of individuality, some evidence of interpretation and of going beyond the story, the stamp of the individual if you like.'
Exhibition opens 10am on Saturday 19 May at Terrington Hall School, Terrington, YO60 6PR (01653 648227). Presentation of Prizes 12 noon. Arts and crafts, play activities and refreshments available