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Strokes of genius

Picture your pupils taking on techniques of great artists, says Fergus Crow.

Imagine a primary school child decides to draw a tree. Imagine the tree this child eventually produces reflects thee child's knowledge of the line tone, colour application and brush styles employed by Constable, Cezanne or Van Gogh.

Kent company Arts Projects for Schools (APFS) launches The Young Masters Project at the Education Show. It is the third initiative from the company which aims to offer teachers and pupils in primary schools new ways of widening their experience of the visual arts. Dan Dickey, managing director of APFS says the Young Master's Project aims to do this through technical and contextual study of the creations of some of the world's greatest artists.

For five years, Apfs has been working with schools to raise the profile of the visual arts, and to arm children and teachers with new skills and fresh approaches.

"Our projects are designed to increase the confidence and competence of both teachers and pupils through working in the visual arts, he says.

Using a range of teahing resources tied to national curriculum requirements for art and design, primarily at key stages one and two, participating schools' artwork is used to decorate many products: anything from T-shirts to mouse mats.

The school sends students' artwork away to APFS and waits for the finished items to return, a small profit on each piece going directly to the school itself.

In the past five years, APFS has worked in more than 450 schools, helping to add more than pound;100,000 to school art funding.

So, how can Cezanne's trees help improve the quality of modern children's art? "The project encourages children to look more closely at aspects of artists' work, such as use of colour, or ways of applying different media," says Dickey. The children then go on to use this when producing their own work.

The project relies on resources developed to support teachers when they are using the work of old masters to help inspire a new generation. In this, Dan Dickey hopes, teachers will be able to put "some of the creative flair and enjoyment back into education."

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