For a long time, these were endless doodles of One Direction. Then it was Harry Styles, and then it was neither, but throughout there were lots of football references, lots of Superman ‘S’ signs and lots of cryptic messages which mean nothing to the casual eye but everything to those who wrote them.

The inner lives, interests and obsessions of more than 100,000 school children from around the world have been collected by Turner Prize winner Oscar Murillo and displayed at his former school.

The idea of ​​the project is simple. From 2013, he sends blank canvases to schools and asks that they be fixed on desks so that pupils, aged 10 to 16, can draw on them for months – or doodle, write or mark them any way. way they wanted.

Murillo with a close-up of one of the canvases. Photography: David Levene/The Guardian

During the summer school holidays, they will be presented in the sports hall of Cardinal Pole Catholic School in Hackney, London. Examples will be shown on screens and in special displays. The rest is stacked like a reference library. Murillo also created new works of art using stitched-together canvases.

When he started the project, Murillo said he had in mind “purity of design. I had the impression that historically, artists like Picasso or Dubuffet discussed the idea of ​​drawing in terms of purity. In my case, I wanted to explore these ideas directly with the source, the child.

The resulting canvases – 40,000 of them – convey the conscious and unconscious energy of young minds in their most absorbing and fluid form, he said.

Frequencies Project by Oscar Murillo
Murillo said it was “appropriate, almost poetic” that the artwork was on display at his former school in London. Photography: David Levene/The Guardian

Murillo sent the first canvases to a school in Colombia, where he was born and raised before his family moved to London. That was in 2013. Since then, they have been sent to over 350 schools in 34 countries, including Brazil, China, Lebanon, Nepal, Turkey and the UK.

The project is called Frequencies and it felt “appropriate, almost poetic” for it to be exhibited at his former school in London, he said.

“It’s a bit romantic, but I remember being in La Paila, Colombia, when I was 10 and my dad telling me he wanted to travel to the UK.

“I look at this map of the world and I find this tiny little island that seems to me to be in the middle of nowhere. Six months later, we find ourselves there, my family completely uprooted, and the Cardinal Pole school has become this family, where education and culture have been injected into life.

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