Teenager's artwork reimagines grandfather's class photo

Jacob Venit with his artwork at the Royal Academy

Jacob Venit with his artwork at the Royal Academy - Credit: Jacob Venit

A teenager’s painting based on his grandfather's class photo is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Jacob Venit painted the picture based on a photograph of his grandfather’s Stepney Jewish School class from 1930.

The painting is part of the Young Artists’ Summer Show at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.

The work replaces the usual dark school uniform of the time with colourful clothing, while the faces remain in black and white.

Maurice Venit's class photo at Stepney Jewish School in 1930

Maurice Venit's class photo at Stepney Jewish School in 1930 - Credit: Courtesy of Jacob Venit

The Young Artists’ Summer Show takes inspiration from the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition and opens up its galleries and website to works made by artists aged five to 19.

The Willesden local and soon-to-be Camden School for Girls sixth form student told the Ham&High that exhibiting at the gallery was “quite surreal. It’s weird, hard to believe”.

“Being featured at the Royal Academy has inspired me to do more," he said. 

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"In fact, I’ve now started taking commissions from people which I’ve been doing over the summer.”

Jacob's grandfather, Maurice Venit, died 30 years ago, and using the photo helped Jacob connect with his family's east London Jewish heritage.

Maurice was born in 1921 and went on to live in Ilford and Southgate. He was in the RAF during the Second World War. He subsequently became a market trader in London and Essex.

Jacob has attended art classes in some form since he was 10 years old. He still attends Hampstead School of Art and completed an Art GCSE at JFS School in Kingsbury.

The inspiration for the painting came during the first lockdown in Spring 2020.

“It was very much something to do in lockdown. We were looking through a bunch of old photos and I was completely struck by this photo,” Jacob explained.

“I liked all the boys' faces and how they all had fun expressions. I really wanted to paint it so I bought this massive canvas in May 2020 and started working on it.”

A timeline of Jacob’s work on the painting can be seen on his Instagram account @venarttt.

The Royal Academy’s Young Artists’ Summer Show runs until August 8 and takes place both at the museum and on is website.