School Prints Ltd was set up by Brenda Rawnsley just after the Second World War, with the aim of bringing the idea of art out from the gallery and elitist salon and onto the schoolroom wall. Initiated with her husband Derek, who sadly died before the project could get truly underway, School Prints brought the work of important living artists to schoolchildren. They are original lithographs, which means there is no painted starting point, each print being its own original. Artists of the calibre of John Nash, Barbara Jones and Kenneth Rowntree worked directly on litho stones or zinc plates for printing at the Baynard Press. Nash brought the excitement of the last minutes of reaping a cornfield to life, Jones a vibrant fairground scene and Rowntree a primitive orange tractor at work in a virulently green field. Tom Gentleman produced Grey Horses, a busy street scene in a Hertfordshire town (above) that features his schoolboy son David in the foreground. I have loved the idea of prints for schools ever since my own childhood, when I saw the classic Shell County and Natural History posters on my school hall walls. Imagine my heart-stopping surprise then, when the Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham unearthed a cache of mint (and I mean 'mint') lithographs, and proceeded to taunt me with them. A grizzled fan goes on about them here.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)