Artists from Nepal, Nigeria and Sierra Leone with representatives of the British Council at the Rivers of the World 2017 launch in London.

Pupils at six secondary schools in and around Reading will be the envy of artists everywhere with their artwork on display to millions of people on the South Bank of the River Thames as part of Totally Thames this September.

Rivers of the World is the Thames Festival Trust’s flagship art and education project delivered in partnership with the British Council.

With support from Thames Festival Trust and the British Council, students from Reading secondary schools:- Highdown School, The Wren School, Maiden Erlegh School, Bulmershe School and Waingels College, as well as Trinity School Newbury have been linked with schools in Nepal. They will study the history, culture and environment of their local river –or a river in their partner country and will then produce huge artworks inspired by what they have learnt.

As well as being displayed along the River Thames, the works of art will also be reproduced for other riverside venues in the participating countries. There are also plans being developed to display them in Reading this autumn.

The participation of Reading’s secondary schools in this project was brokered by Reading UK CIC as part of the legacy of Reading’s Year of Culture and 2017’s cultural focus on the importance of the Thames and other waterways in Reading.

Zsuzsi Lindsay, on behalf of Reading UK CIC, said: “This is a fabulous opportunity for budding young Reading artists to get involved in a truly international art project and see their work displayed for the world to see on London’s South Bank. This is one of many projects being developed as a legacy of Reading 2016. We hope it is the start of great new relationships between Reading and Nepalese schools, founded on the importance to Reading of our own Nepalese community.”

Totally Thames is running for the whole month of September, and the pupils’ works will be displayed from 16 August until 30 September on the South Bank riverside walkway. A smaller scale exhibition will be on display in City Hall throughout September.

Adrian Evans, Director of Totally Thames, said: “Rivers of the World is Thames Festival’s most important art and education project, linking students all over the world through the creation of artworks inspired by their city’s river.”

Lead artist Shona Watt said: “Rivers of the World is an exciting project to work on. The students’ work gets better every year. It is an intense experience for them and they are very receptive to it, particularly when they know their work will be seen in an international public arena. It is exciting for them to showcase their work at that level and on that scale. They have a larger audience than a lot of professional artists. This project is a marriage between technology and art but the real emphasis is on drawing and developing those skills.”

Rivers of the World runs every year and three new countries join the programme each year. 28 countries have taken part in Rivers of the World since 2006.