They left me for dead, says Johnson of primary school art class

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the portrait he painted of the Queen during a drawing session with children at Field End Infant School in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the portrait he painted of the Queen during a drawing session with children at Field End Infant School in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson painted a somewhat questionable likeness of Her Majesty the Queen but was unable to brush off his party’s local election performance after an art class on Friday.

It was back to school for the Prime Minister after what has been described as a difficult night for the Conservatives in the local elections, as he visited Field End Infant School in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency on Friday.

“They left me for dead,” Mr Johnson said, not in a comment on the poll results, but comparing his portrait of the Queen to the efforts of the five- and six-year-olds at his table.

“More school of Rembrandt than Rembrandt,” he said of his efforts.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints with children at Field End Infant School in South Ruislip (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints with children at Field End Infant School in South Ruislip (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

The Prime Minister joined Year 1 pupils as they painted pictures of the monarch, which the school hopes to use for celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee.

Mr Johnson said the portrait, which he signed, would be dedicated to the school.

As some of the paintings are expected to be used to help decorate a Jubilee street party, there is the prospect that the Prime Minister’s artwork could potentially end up on public display.

He has previously spoken of his interest in art, including once describing in an interview how he likes to paint small models of London buses on wine crates. He was photographed painting at an easel while on holiday last year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson painted the Manchester Bee during an art class at the city’s HideOut Youth Zone in October 2021 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson painted the Manchester Bee during an art class at the city’s HideOut Youth Zone in October 2021 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

Mr Johnson’s mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, was a painter who made her name with portraits of such subjects as actress Joanna Lumley and novelist Jilly Cooper.

“By me and Mrs P,” the Prime Minister said, holding up his finished portrait of the Queen, referring to the fact that he and the children were painting over a pre-drawn image by one of the teachers.

“I’m like one of the people in Rembrandt’s Atelier who fills it in,” he said.

While walking around the school, Mr Johnson told teachers that he went to the same primary school as David Miliband. “My happiest days”, he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a cup of tea with teachers at Field End Infant School (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a cup of tea with teachers at Field End Infant School (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

The Prime Minister also met teachers participating in the national tutoring programme to help children catch up on their learning after the pandemic.

Speaking about the merits of the approach, he recalled that, when he was a primary pupil in Camden, north London, a teacher took him to one side and “gave me some time, and it made a huge difference”.

“It’s all about confidence,” he added.

During the visit, Mr Johnson proclaimed art to be his “favourite” subject but, despite the hint, when he faced the media it was Conservative losses in the local council elections and the rising cost of living that came up.

The Prime Minister accepted that his party had endured a “tough night”, and he said he took responsibility for the results.

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