Pupils’ paintings on show

Paintings by Bea Oliver, six, and her classmates are being exhibited at Le Cafe Parisien
Paintings by Bea Oliver, six, and her classmates are being exhibited at Le Cafe Parisien
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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A popular cafe in Portsmouth is now an impressionist art- lover’s dream – thanks to the talents of primary schoolchildren.

The colourful paintings by 50 six and seven-year-olds at Portsmouth Grammar Junior School, inspired by 19th century French master Claude Monet, are now on show at Le Cafe Parisien in the city centre.

Water lilies, landscapes of water and reflections and buildings captured at different times of the day will be displayed for customers to enjoy until March 1.

And like any good art exhibition, the works were launched with a bang as children, parents and grandparents packed out the cafe to the sounds of string quartet playing by grammar school students.

Max Povey, seven, was thrilled to see his work being displayed in a public space.

He says: ‘It is good because everyone can see it. I am hoping that my dad, sisters and people from my mummy’s work will be able to see it too.’

Bea Oliver, six, says: ‘I feel really happy because everyone can see my work. It took two weeks to finish and we used paintings by Monet to help us.’

Christopher Yang, seven, adds: ‘I feel very proud because my artwork has been displayed and because my brother is playing in the strings group today as well.’

The artworks are the result of a special project designed to give the children a greater understanding of the methods and practises used by Monet, as well as taking a closer look into his background.

Monet, considered to be the father of the Impressionist art movement, was famous for his technique of painting landmarks like the Rouen cathedral from different points of view and at different times of the day to capture the varying lights or ‘impressions’ throughout the day.

Peter Hopkinson, headteacher, says: ‘As a school we are very keen to engage with the wider community and this is one way in which the work that our children produce can be shared and appreciated by a wider audience.

‘It is wonderful to see the children’s pride at seeing their work displayed for so many people to enjoy.’

Le Café Parisien regularly hosts artwork by a range of local and up-and-coming artists, including from the University of Portsmouth.

Its owner Kevin Wingham, whose two sons attend the grammar school, says: ‘Art exhibitions by local artists are a well-established feature here.’