Exhibition celebrates talents of school-age artists

Published 26 July 2011

ashleyAn exhibition of the work of 65 school students, which opened at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale last Friday evening, celebrates the artistic talents of young people throughout northern and north-western NSW.

“It’s very inspiring to see such active and interested young minds at work,” said the Director of NERAM, Caroline Downer, at the opening of the “Let’s Hang It!” exhibition, which includes works by students from as far afield as Tenterfield, Grafton and Camden Haven.

The 65 artists featured in “Let’s Hang It!” are the finalists in the University of New England Schools Acquisitive Art Prize (UNESAP) competition, which is now in its eighth year. This year’s competition attracted 660 entries from students of all ages – from kindergarten to Year 12 – at about 40 schools.

UNE is the major sponsor of the competition, which is also sponsored by NERAM and the art supply company S&S Creativity Unlimited. “This is a really important event in the calendar of the University,” said the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, Professor Victor Minichiello, in officially opening the exhibition. While celebrating the collaborative efforts of UNE, NERAM, and school principals, teachers, parents and students, Professor Minichiello told the young artists that they were “the stars of the show”.

Ms Downer paid tribute to the work of UNE’s Dr Frances Alter, who has coordinated UNESAP from its foundation in 2004 until this year, when UNE handed over the management of the competition to NERAM. This year’s coordinator was Jennifer Butler, who said she had been impressed by the “fantastic range and quality” of the art works submitted.

The guest judge this year was Michelle Schouten, an artist working in the medium of glass who has had 22 years’ experience as a classroom teacher. Speaking to the competition finalists, she recommended the fulfilling life of an artist, saying: “If ever you have an opportunity to become an artist, grab it!”

Ms Schouten presented cash prizes ranging from $50 to $300 to the winners and runners-up in the four Divisions, and Suzanne Edwards from S&S Creativity Unlimited presented each of the four winners with a collection of art supplies.

The winner of the Infants Division of the competition was Jessica Deleiuen from Woodford Dale Public School (Grade 1) with a magical painting of a frog. The runner-up in the Infants Division was Piper Burke from South Grafton Public School (Kindergarten), with a whimsical work titled Pirate Dog. Sam Watson (Grade 4), who attends NERAM Art Classes, was the winner of the Primary School Division and Lily Keft-Gill from Tamworth Public School (Grade 6) was runner-up.

Junior Secondary Division: Keleni Grant (Year 8, Glen Innes High School) winner;  Faith Eadie (Armidale High School, Year 7) runner-up. Senior Secondary Division: Daniel Watts (Tenterfield High School, Year 12) winner; Sorcha Harrop (Armidale High School, Year 11/12) runner-up. Director’s Choice Award: Samuel Cooper (Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, Year 8). People’s Choice Award: Jones Yue (The Armidale School, Year 11).

The “Let’s Hang It!” exhibition will continue at NERAM until the 14th of August.

THE PICTURE displayed here, titled Ashley, is Keleni Grant’s winning entry in the Junior Secondary Division.