Former teacher calls for valuable art to be returned for pupils

An extraordinary dispute over three valuable paintings given to a state school by an influential British artist and then confiscated by a London local authority has led to fresh calls for the works to be returned for the schoolchildren.

The three paintings, two still-lifes and a portrait of a cat, are by the late Mary Fedden, the first woman tutor at the Royal College of Art’s painting school. They were taken seven years ago by Brent council during a wider financial scandal that threatened the future of Copland community school in Wembley.

This weekend the council confirmed that the paintings, thought to be worth between £20,000 and £40,000 each, had been handed over to dealers at the leading West End gallery handling Fedden’s work, despite the claim that the artist originally gave the paintings to the school in 2009 to hang in a new art room that was to be named after her.