The National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) was established in 1985 to provide a documentary trace of the development of arts education in the UK and worldwide, by collecting children’s and students’ work and the papers, letters and work of key educators and artists in the visual arts, music and language. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) has managed the Archive since 2009.
This material, comprising more than 100 catalogued collections, is based in the purpose-built Lawrence Batley Centre on the former Bretton Hall College campus and is available to researchers, lecturers and the general public by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays each week. Staff and volunteers at the NAEA regularly curate exhibitions from the collection – exhibition opening times vary.
To find the NAEA, pick up a free Welcome & Map leaflet at YSP – it is a short walk from the Red Car Park at YSP Learning. Please note, major construction is underway around the area surrounding the Archive, but you can still visit.
Learning Through Drawing Collection
One of the collections, Learning Through Drawing, contains drawings from infant, primary and secondary schools brought together by the North East Region Art Advisers Association in an exhibition in 1978. As well as the drawings the collection is contextualised by a booklet which accompanied the exhibition, put together by my father, Keith Gentle (though not credited in the book), when he was one of the Art Adviser’s involved.
The original aim of the project was to ‘draw attention to the significance of drawing in the education of children, by increasing understanding about drawing and illustrating its wide range and function’.
The drawings were exhibited in over 30 centres and venues in England and Wales including at the Plowden Conference 1979, the opening of the new gallery at the Institute of Education, London University and the 1981 International Society for Education in Art (INSEA) World Congress in Rotterdam.
The emergent ideas redefined attitudes and approaches to drawing in education in the period preceding the National Curriculum, serving also as an influential precursor to future initiatives such as The Campaign for Drawing.
I have also written a blog about the NAEA here.
One of a few pieces of my childhood work, shown in the book, Learning Through Drawing: