Artwork Spotlight: The School Prints

Our art and design programme aims to improve patients’ experiences in hospital environments, which can be seen as anxiety and stress-inducing. The artwork in our hospitals remains on permanent display, and we hope that our existing interventions at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital continue to promote healing and positivity for patients and staff.

The School Prints, Various Artists

First published in the 1940s, The School Prints are now recognised as a mark of the post-war artistic exuberance and optimism that culminated in the Festival of Britain in 1951.

The famous School Prints are original hand-drawn colour lithographs printed by The Banyard Press. Under the initiative of Brenda Rawnsley, School Prints Ltd commissioned artists selected by art historian Herbert Read to create works which were produced in large numbers, and sold cheaply to subscribing schools so that schoolchildren could enjoy direct contact with art.

‘The Dancer’ by Henri Matisse, 1949
‘Sculptural Objects’ by Henry Moore, 1949
‘Fairground’ by Barbara Jones, 1945
'Window Plants' by John Nash, 1945

The celebratory spirit of the prints is in keeping with the general optimism of the project – nowhere is there any reference to the war and its devastations; colours are bright and cheerful. Some artists such as Moore and Nash were well-established, while others were less well-known.

There was also a European series, with prints by Matisse, Picasso, Leger and Braque, amongst others. Ultimately the project proved too complex and the logistics too large, but the remaining prints can now be enjoyed by a new generation.

This collection can be found on the First Floor of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the X-Ray Department.

Click here for more information about our extensive hospital art collection.