About Treasures Revealed: From the National Arts Education Archive

In celebration of YSP's 40th anniversary in 2017, artists, supporters and volunteers chose 40 inspirational objects, collections and ideas from the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA).

The NAEA, established in 1985 and now managed by YSP, holds a fascinating collection of artefacts, books, artworks, papers and correspondence that documents developments in art education over the last century. The archive comprises more than 100 catalogued collections including Child Art, Basic Design, A.E.Halliwell and Franz Cizek.

Key individuals connected to the Park and with an interest in art education were invited to choose objects from the NAEA that inform, inspire and delight, responding to the question ‘what is your treasure?’. The resulting exhibition, Treasures Revealed, includes selections by author Joanne Harris; artist and agitator Bob and Roberta Smith; politician Yvette Cooper; and artist Hester Reeve.

Noted author Joanne Harris selected two fabric works from the Bretton Hall College Textiles Collection made by unknown students in the 1980s. Harris said: “Art has gone through many changes over the centuries, but the art of embroidery has barely changed at all: exuberant; intimate; delicate; often anonymous, humble and always essentially human, it tells the tale of the people who have come before us, speaking directly to us from its place in history, telling its stories, which so often seem also to be our stories, in a clear and quiet voice.”

A black and white photograph of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) as the Dying Swan, alongside the dancer’s necklace was chosen by YSP volunteer Lorna Sellers: “With a passion for dance and photography, I entered the NAEA hoping to find a special image for the exhibition. However nothing prepared me for the exciting discovery of a folder labeled “Pavlova”. Amongst various items inside, I found this wonderful 1907 black and white photograph of world-acclaimed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan. Created for her in 1905, by Russian dancer and choreographer Mikhail (Michel) Fokine, this was to become Pavlova’s signature ballet solo and she performed it around 4,000 times. To my further delight I also discovered this beautiful necklace, which had belonged to Pavlova. What other treasures are waiting to be discovered in the NAEA? One can only imagine!”

Bob and Roberta Smith, pseudonym of the artist Patrick Brill who received an OBE for services to the arts in the New Year honours list for 2017, selected Don Pavey’s Toy and Art-based Game Collection. The collection features 329 items ranging from games, puzzles and pastimes to a Kinetic-art robot, all used as part of Pavey’s – a post-war teacher – teaching practices.

The NAEA is one of the great repositories of material relating to the development of the arts in the post war era. It’s also a place of hope!

- Bob and Roberta Smith

The opening of Treasures Revealed coincided with the introduction of a new site-specific installation, All Schools Should be Art Schools, by Smith. Echoing YSP’s and the NAEA’s continued commitment to the case for creativity in education, the work is a bright, colourful, statement of inspirational intent positioned next to the YSP Learning building.

Read the Treasures Revealed blog

Find out more about the NAEA