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Pupils have a brush with masterpieces from the art world

By Anna Maguire

It's not every day a real Monet or Turner is propped up in your local primary school.

But an initiative is bringing original masterpieces, usually found in the UK's leading museums, straight to schoolchildren.

The collection, worth an estimated £14m, brings together works by Monet, Gainsborough, LS Lowry, Monet, Spencer and Turner.

Experts from museums where the masterpieces usually hang are travelling around with the collection – which is visiting 27 schools across the UK.

Pupils at Gracehill Primary School in Ballymena got the chance to cast their critical eye over John Luke's famous oil painting, Connswater Bridge, before it moved on to St Anthony's Primary School in Belfast yesterday.

For one day only, the painting became the centre of the arts and maths lessons. Pupils were told about its style before getting the chance to create their own sculptural masterpiece using some unusual items.

The Masterpieces' tour, which continues until October 18, is part of the ongoing initiative, 'Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools' which currently shows over 200,000 oil paintings from 3,200 venues.

The initiative is led by contemporary British artists Bob and Roberta Smith and John Byrne, and is supported by BBC Learning.

"When I was just 10 and at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school. We travelled to Glasgow every Saturday for six months to be shown films about the great artists Samuel Palmer, William Blake, Rembrandt and more," said Mr Byrne.

"This was a fantastic inspiration that I have remembered all my life, and hopefully this amazing project will inspire the next generation of artists."

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