Russell brushes up artwork
The worlds of cricket and art collided at Lord's when former England wicketkeeper turned professional artist Jack Russell unveiled the first oil painting created on a canvas of cricket bats.
The Chance to Shine charity commissioned Russell to create the unique piece of ‘Cric-art’ to celebrate its flagship event, Brit Insurance National Cricket Day, on 23 June when thousands of schoolchildren will take part in cricket-themed activity.
Chance to Shine is the biggest grassroots sport development programme undertaken in Britain. The scheme, run by the Cricket Foundation charity, helps link cricket clubs to local state schools and aims, initially, to reach two million children in a third of state schools by 2015.
Working on a giant canvas of 36 full-size bats, joined together in two rows of 18 - measuring 6ft 4ins by 5ft 5ins and weighing 130lbs - Russell has painted a quintessentially English village cricket scene, celebrating the sport that he loves.
The painting took Russell around 100 hours to complete over a three-week period, using a dozen tubes of paint. It is an amalgamation of the many local cricket grounds he has seen over his 25 years of professional painting.
After Brit Insurance National Cricket Day, the aim is to exhibit the painting at venues like Lord’s during the summer before auctioning it off to raise funds for Chance to Shine.
“Painting on a canvas of cricket bats was certainly different," said Russell. "But I enjoyed the challenge and it’s a great way to celebrate Chance to Shine’s day of cricket in schools.
"I hope the painting can also raise some money for the charity which is bringing cricket to thousands of children in state schools every year."
School children across the country will unite for a day of cricket on Thursday 23 June. Nearly 4,000 schools have registered and are planning cricket-themed lessons in class, coaching in the playground and competitions at local cricket clubs.
Russell will himself be involved as one of the celebrities taking part in Chance to Shine’s ‘Dream Cricket School’, assisting in a cricket-themed art class at Johanna Primary School in London.
Governor of the Bank of England and Chance to Shine’s president Mervyn King will assist in a cricketing maths lesson, while a member of the England team will run a PE class.
Minister of Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson will speak at a cricket-themed school assembly and other celebrity cricket fans, including cricket broadcaster Mark Nicholas will cover cross-curricular cricket classes at the inner-city primary school near Waterloo.
Chance to Shine has devised special cricket-themed lessons to give the curriculum a cricketing twist. For example, children will learn the difference between acute and obtuse angles in maths through a range of cricket shots, or identify the cricket playing counties in geography. The charity’s web-based resource covers citizenship, humanities, literacy and numeracy.
There will be a series of flagship events at schools nationwide, from Cardiff to Durham, where high profile cricket ambassadors will be going back to school for the day.
Abroad, the Afghan Connection charity in partnership with MCC Spirit of Cricket will help give the day an international feel by organising a girls' cricket camp in Mazar–i-sharif, North Afghanistan; while Willmott Park Primary School in Victoria, South Australia, is also getting involved with indoor cricket and classroom activity despite it being the football season Down Under.
Over in Japan, the Japan Cricket Association will be working with young groups of children on cricket skills in Sano, the home of cricket in Japan. The JCA runs an initiative called ‘Cricket for Smiles’ which, like Chance to Shine, encourages more youngsters to play the sport. One of their aims is to go into areas of Japan worst affected by the March earthquake and deliver cricket equipment and resources to those who have lost everything.
Back home, Chance to Shine will once again receive support from the England and Wales Cricket Board, Marylebone Cricket Club and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, as the cricket community gets behind the day.
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