Spreading the word about Sheffield’s young art talents

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Art is a viable career, and not just a frivolous subject to be studied at school and never again - that was the message at one of Sheffield’s biggest exhibitions for young people.

The fourth annual Sheffield Young Artists A-level exhibition was held at the Town Hall, where 67 pieces of artwork by students from 11 schools around the city were displayed.

The show was organised by the Rotary Club of Abbeydale and the Sheffield branch of the educational charity NADFAS - the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.

Ken Marshall, from the Rotary Club, said the exhibition backed up Sheffield’s claim to be a ‘city of excellence’ for children’s art.

“Art has a very definite role to play - it’s not just an ‘add-on’ subject, but unfortunately it’s regarded as such,” he said.

“Art is involved in developing creativity, which is the future.”

At the Town Hall there were artists in residence, students listened to a talk by Sheffield painter Joe Scarborough and a careers networking session was held.

More than 20 executives, including architects, computer games experts, teachers and even dentists, attended.

“The dentists were saying that a basic understanding of art is worthwhile - it’s beneficial for dexterity too,” said Ken.

“It was quite an open networking session. They just had a lapel badge saying what their career was so students could approach them. It wasn’t formal.”

The show is a spin-off from the bigger Sheffield Young Artists Exhibition, which has been running for more than a decade and caters for children aged four to 18. At this year’s event in May more than 1,000 pictures went on show at Ponds Forge sports centre, and a follow-up exhibition was held at the Town Hall.

The A-level event was launched when organisers realised that students were submitting work to a national competition held in London by NADFAS and the Royal Society of British Artists.

“I thought it was a bit embarrassing that our students work was being recognised in London,” Ken explained.

In recent years students have regularly won ‘scholar of the year’ awards in the contest, and 2015 was no exception, with Abigail Powell, who attends Bradfield School, and Tristan Brockenshire, of Hillsborough College, both being handed prizes.

However, Ken said his ambition was for all of the Young Artists shows to be more widely known in Sheffield

“My biggest disappointment is that the majority of people in Sheffield don’t know about it. The parents, relatives and friends of the children whose work is shown know about it, but most people don’t realise what talent there is in Sheffield.

“We have hosted a lot of tours by people from all around the world - Australia, California, China - and they are so complimentary.”

n The main exhibition returns on April 29 and 30 at Ponds Forge, and on May 21 and 22 at the Town Hall. Displays are also put up at the Great Sheffield Art Show and at Art in the Gardens.