Friday, November 14, 2008

Drawing on art and the Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales is 60 today - the age a lot of men retire in the UK. As a number of papers will doubtless remark today, he's yet to start 'the top job'. However I'd like to mark his birthday by suggesting he's done a great deal more through his charitable work than most Princes of Wales have ever done - not least through his sponsorship and patronage of art education, traditional arts and drawing.

The Prince is a keen watercolorist and through various ventures (including the sale of lithographs of his work) aligned to his charities he has helped to raise millions for their charitable work. This post highlights a few of his activities.
On this website you can view galleries of The Prince's (watercolour) work from Greece, Switzerland, Overseas and Scotland.
The Prince of Wales's interests - painting with watercolours
Art Education

One of the Prince's ambitions is to help young people realise their full potential. Here are some of the organisations he's helped to stimulate and create and/or sponsor as a patron.

The Prince's Drawing School

The Prince has always been a keen artist and an advocate of the importance of drawing skills. Created in 2000, The Prince's Drawing School is his educational charity which is unusually dedicated to the teaching of drawing.

It has a faculty of some 35 practising artists and it works on the premise that drawing is a living, evolving language. The studios are in a converted warehouse in Shoreditch, the heart of London's East End creative community. It runs a range of programmes, including
I'm personally very grateful for the Prince's Drawing School because it's where I get my drawing workout once a week when I attend James Lloyd's class on Drawing a Head.

The Prince's School of Traditional Arts

The scope of the Prince's School of the Traditional Arts ranges from icon-making to Indian miniature painting, stained glass, mosaic craft, woodwork, biomorphic drawing and more.

It offers postgraduate degrees and a range of short courses for the general public. The School also has a number of outreach programmes around the UK.

It also occupies the same converted warehouse in Shoreditch as the Drawing School and had an exhibition of traditional arts on the ground floor recently which was very impressive.

The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts

A more recent educational charity is The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts. This provides access for young people who would otherwise grow up having had very little or no contact with the arts or opportunity to engage with them. The basic notion is that the arts (in thei widest sense) have a role to play in the development of a child and their understanding of shared cultures. You can read more about the Prince's involvement in Charles, the Prince of Arts
Why the arts?

Engaging with the arts enriches young peoples lives, nurtures creativity and improves self esteem and skills. Through our work children learn that cultural venues are welcoming, accessible and exciting places to visit. Other areas which arts access can impact upon include:
  • Unlocking talent
  • Raising aspirations
  • Improving confidence
  • Developing intellectual, social and emotional skills
  • Developing physical skills
  • Changing behaviour and attitudes to learning

The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts hopes to give children the confidence and inspiration to kindle a life-long love of the arts.

Launched as a pilot in 2002 it became an independent charity in 2006. Since then it has worked with 35, 000 children to deliver an experience of the arts which is quality oriented.
  • Art and Kids Week runs annually in the Autumn.
  • Arts organisations can take advantage of the free online event listing guide
  • The Arts Events for children lists events for different age groups in different areas of the UK.
  • The Great Art Quest 2008 aims to introduce 100 children from 16 primary schools to the visual arts. Four art galleries: Graves Art Gallery (Sheffield), The Harris Museum (Preston), The Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) and The Courtauld Institute of Art (London) will work in partnerships with local primary schools.
  • The website provides advice and documents for people wanting to get involved.
  • Plus you can read about the real and very positive and measurable impact on children of their involvement with the arts in Spotlight on Children and the Arts (newsletter/pdf file)

Arts and Business

Arts and Business is also one of the Prince's Charities. It aims to get business people helping the arts and the arts inspiring business people. It helps to promote networking and the exchange and development of skills between the business and arts communities.

The Highgrove Florilegium

Earlier this year in Volume 1 of The Highgrove Florilegium is published, I highlighted the fact that the Prince was sponsoring the production of a Florilegium of the gardens at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire - which is one of the most well-known organic gardens in the United Kingdom.

The artists are still working on plants that will form the second volume and the first bound copies of Volume 2 are expected in the summer of 2009. You can view a gallery of images from the first volume here.

A footnote

For some reason, newspapers have chosen to ridicule Prince Charles over the years for some of the stances he has taken on various topics (eg organic gardening).

However I've noted that more and more of his themes and causes are ones which are taken up and endorsed over time by first the public and then various governments. I guess that's probably as much of a comment on the wisdom of the public as the Prince!

I for one certainly think that his sponsorship of learning and patronage of art, drawing, traditional arts and the general involvement of children with the arts creates a very significant legacy for the future.


  1. The Prince deserves a lot of credit....and so do you for bringing this to light for people who haven't known about his many contributions... (to the visual arts world) in particular. Thanks for the article. It was fun to read.

  2. I have seen some of the Prince's watercolours and think that they are of pretty good standard.

    I think that he had very good tuition, but cannot remember who his tutor was.

    The Duke of Edinburgh is also no mean water colourist.

  3. Just a few1

    I think a number of would have been happy to have had tuition from Edward Seago, with whom he discussed watercolour technique, or John Ward

    You can see some of Seago's work here

    Bryan Organ and Derek Hill also provided tuition

  4. What an excellent post! I think the royal family is rather meanly treated by the popular press, it's refreshing to read something positive about them. Thank you.


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