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Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents a new exhibition exploring a creative approach to child development

05 Mar 2019

Ruth Ewan & Oscar Murillo
13 July–3 November 2019
Longside Gallery
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) brings together work by artists Ruth Ewan and Oscar Murillo in a new exhibition that explores the continued vital role of a creative approach to child development. A new commission by Ewan references the philosophy of two of the most influential educators of the 20th century, Sir Alec Clegg and Sir Herbert Read, while Frequencies, an ever-evolving global project created by Murillo, in collaboration with students around the world, gives insight into what it’s like to grow up in different countries in the 21st century.
In Longside Gallery, Ewan’s participatory installation, Asking Out, recreates a Castleford primary school classroom from 1972. Inspired by the holdings of the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) based at YSP, visitors are introduced to the pioneering teaching method ‘Asking Out’, a technique – developed by untrained Castleford teacher Muriel Pyrah, which invited children to speak out, ask questions and directly engage with each other.
The experimental methodology, which drew national media interest in the late 1960s and early 1970s, encouraged self-directed learning, fed into future teacher training under the leadership of Alec Clegg, and is still relevant today in what we might now call peer-to-peer learning. Clegg and Read believed that if you teach a child creatively they will become a fully rounded person and contribute to society as a whole, an ethos shared by YSP with its roots in Bretton Hall College and evidenced through the collection of the NAEA.
Developed from research carried out with Pyrah’s former pupils and colleagues, Ewan’s project explores the teacher’s unconventional methods and continues Ewan’s investigation into alternative education models and overlooked histories. Reconstructed as faithfully as possible, the classroom walls showcase children’s paintings, drawings and embroidery drawn from the NAEA collection. Activating the artwork and bringing the space to life, Ewan invites people to contribute to the space and to participate in creative activities echoing those taught by Pyrah, including studying nature through creativity. Ewan has created a situation for people to think about creative education, its impact upon social mobility, and how this can be mobilised today at a time when creative forms of learning have been marginalised from the curriculum.
Murillo’s ongoing project seeks to record the ‘frequency’ of different childhoods across the world. It has already taken place in more than 31 countries and is represented in this exhibition through a display of over 80 canvases. Working with his parents and political scientist Clara Dublanc, Murillo and his team fix blank canvases to school desks for six months and, without materials or instruction, pupils are invited to mark them in any way they choose – there are no rules. Some of the canvases featured have been made by children from two schools in nearby Castleford – the birthplace of Henry Moore.
The project began in 2013 in Murillo’s hometown of La Paila in Colombia and to date has a growing archive of over 15,000 individual canvases. The YSP selection illustrates the students’ thoughts, expressions, and chance interventions, creating a ‘map’ of children’s experiences across the globe. Murillo is interested in not only documenting the cultural and social differences that occur worldwide, made visible in the different ways that children approach the canvases, but also the similarities.
Providing exceptional art for everyone has been YSP’s goal since opening to the public in 1977. Its pioneering learning programme reaches 45,000 people every year, enabling access, understanding and enjoyment of art for a wide range of audiences, particularly those traditionally excluded from the arts due to social, economic, cultural or health inequalities. Prompting discussion around the importance of arts and cultural learning in schools, museums and galleries, this project continues a strand of YSP’s programming that has included Art, Games and Play (2018); Treasures Revealed (2017); and Bob and Roberta Smith: Art for All (2015).
Notes to Editors

About Ruth Ewan
Ruth Ewan’s projects begin with research into how we become socialised into ways of thinking – into how ideologies circulate, so that we are able to internalise them and make them our own belief systems. Subversive propaganda, rebellion, protest songs and activists form the bedrock of her work, which is often engaged with mapping and presenting new, forgotten strands of grassroots history.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1980, Ewan lives and works in Glasgow. She studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2002. She has exhibited nationally and internationally with recent solo exhibitions and projects at Edinburgh Art Festival and at Tate Britain (with Astrid Johnston) and within significant group shows at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Bienal de São Paulo; and Somerset House. She has a forthcoming solo exhibition at CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux. Ewan’s A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World (2003–), an ever-growing archive of social and political music, featured as part of YSP’s 2018 exhibition Revolt & Revolutions: An Arts Council Collection National Partner Exhibition. ruthewan.com
About Oscar Murillo
Oscar Murillo's large-scale paintings imply action, performance, and chaos, but are in fact methodically composed of rough-hewn, stitched canvases that often incorporate fragments of text as well as studio debris such as dirt and dust. His paintings, video works, and actions are tied to a notion of community stemming from the artist's cross-cultural ties to diverse cities and places in which he travels and works, and Colombia, where he was born.
Murillo earned his BFA in 2007 from the University of Westminster, London, followed by his MFA in 2012 from the Royal College of Art, London. He joined David Zwirner in 2013 and had his inaugural exhibition, titled A Mercantile Novel, at the gallery in New York the following year. Murillo has presented solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide including Haus der Kunst, Munich; Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá; Centro Cultural Daoíz y Velarde, Madrid (part of ArcoColombia 2015); and Artpace, San Antonio, Texas. The artist opens a major solo exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge in April 2019. frequenciesproject.net
About Sir Alec Clegg and Sir Herbert Read
Sir Alec Clegg, Chief Education Officer for the West Riding of Yorkshire (1945–1974), saw the arts elevated to a position of influence and special relevance in the education of children. His philosophy and mediation provided the impulse and direction for teachers to fully support the development of children’s emotional and sensory needs through the arts.
Sir Herbert Read, born in North Yorkshire in 1893 was an English anarchist, poet and literary critic, best known for numerous books on art, which included influential volumes on the role of art in education. Read was co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and highly influential in the careers of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
About the National Arts Education Archive
The National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park was established at Bretton Hall College in 1985. Its inauguration was a direct response to the perceived need for key collections of materials to be brought together in one place; to secure their future as touchstones in the development of teaching and learning; and as an archive for professional reference and research. After 25 years as an independent charitable trust, the NAEA is now managed by YSP. The Archive’s original aims and objectives are in line with YSP’s overall mission, to enable access to, understanding and enjoyment of art. ysp.org.uk/naea

High Res Image Downloads


Muriel Pyrah in the classroom. Courtesy the NAEA

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Oscar Murillo, Frequencies, 2013-ongoing, detail. Courtesy the artist

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Mrs Pyrah in the classroom, 1968 © The Sunday Times Magazine / News Licensing

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Oscar Murillo, Frequencies, 2013- (detail). Courtesy the artist

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