Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1946 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jones, Barbara, born 1912 - died 1978 (artist)
    Baynard Press (printer)
    School Prints Ltd. (made for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case ES, shelf 11

Barbara Jones designed this exuberant lithograph of a fairground for the first series of School Prints, one of the most important post-war art schemes. Set up in 1945 by Brenda Rawnsley, School Prints aimed to commission colour lithographs from well-known artists which would then be printed in bulk and sold at a low cost to schools subscribing to the scheme; the goal was to provide children with direct and continuous contact with real works of art. Although the scheme ended in 1949 due to financial problems, it stands as a unique achievement in giving children access to original works of art in a time of austerity.

Barbara Jones was one of several artists who had been involved in the Recording Britain scheme who also provided work for School Prints. This joyful depiction of a merry-go-round stands in sharp contrast to one of her Recording Britain watercolours, a haunting, desolate view of Savage's Yard, the deserted premises of a round-about manufacturer in King's Lynn [see E.1931-1949].

Physical description

Colour lithograph showing a fairground with a brightly-coloured, ornately decorated merry-go-round in the foreground, featuring cockerels and horses. A second ride (dragons) can be seen behind and to the left a man with a stall of coconuts shouts to advertise his coconut shy. In the lower right corner a woman and two young children stand watching the merry-go-round. Around the image is a printed 'frame', consisting of ivy leaves around a pole against an orange background and with a blue outer edge.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1946 (printed and published)


Jones, Barbara, born 1912 - died 1978 (artist)
Baynard Press (printer)
School Prints Ltd. (made for)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Barbara Jones'
Signed by the artist on the stone, lower left corner

'FAIRGROUND by Barbara Jones. S.P.2.'
Printed below the border of the picture, on the 'frame'.

On sign above coconut shy

Above carousel

On sign next to coconut shy


Height: 497 mm, Width: 760 mm

Object history note

Fairground is drawn from the first series of School Prints, a scheme that commissioned artists to produce original lithographs in large numbers which would then be sold at low cost to subscribing schools. The School Prints scheme's goal was to provide children with direct and continuous contact with real works of art. Two major series were published in 1946 and 1947.

Historical context note

Brenda Rawnsley founded the School Prints scheme in 1945; her introductory letter to artists outlines the project's purpose: 'We are producing a series of auto-lithographs, four for each term, for use in schools, as a means of giving school-children an understanding of contemporary art.' Many leading artists (a number of whom, including Barbara Jones, Kenneth Rowntree and Michael Rothenstein, had been associated with Recording Britain) submitted sketches, which were selected by Mrs Rawnsley and a committee chaired by the eminent critic Herbert Read; two major series of prints were published in 1946 and 1947.

The School Prints epitomise, and were inspired by, the atmosphere of optimism of post-war Britain that peaked at the 1951 Festival of Britain: the future was what mattered, and children were effectively Britain's future. As such, the prevailing spirit of the prints is one of quiet celebration; most of the scenes depict a familiar, everyday world of work and occasional celebration, with no reference to the devastation of the recent war. School Prints expanded in 1949 to include a series of prints by leading European artists, including Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Leger and Dufy, which proved an expensive flop and spelled the end of the scheme. Despite its ultimate failure, School Prints remains a unique achievement in giving children ready access to original works of art in austere times.

Descriptive line

Print, 'Fairground', by Barbara Jones, Britain, 1946

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Gooding, Mel. The School Prints. In: Arts Review July 1980.


Paper; Ink


Colour lithography

Subjects depicted

Dragons; Carousel horses; Cockerels; Woman; Man; Coconut shy; Fairgrounds; Children


Prints; Entertainment & Leisure; Children & Childhood


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.