Children’s masterpieces light up anniversary exhibition

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Eighty-eight spectacular student masterpieces of pastels, acrylics, charcoal prints, drawings, tapestry and oil paintings are on display at the Crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney to mark the tenth anniversary of the ‘Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition’.

The outstanding artworks, which can be viewed until 1 January 2016, are part of the annual Years 5 and 6 student art competition that has become a much-loved tradition with more and more students taking part every year in the lead up to Christmas.

Every year, thousands of students from 120 Catholic and public schools stretching from as far as Bathurst to Wollongong and Sydney, use their imagination, creativity and artistic talents to capture the Christmas Spirit based on their reflections of Sacred Scripture and produce award-winning designs.

Competition Organiser and one of the judges, John Charadia, said that this year, more than 900 beautiful and self-expressive entries were submitted and the judges selected 88 of the best works for the exhibition and competition.

“The works were judged on the reflection each child wrote to accompany their artwork, as well as the artwork itself,” Mr Charadia said.

“This year, the winning artworks reflected the broad range of dimensions we appreciate in the students’ work, namely the ‘Spirit of Christmas’, artistic skills and techniques, the concept of journey, originality, depth of reflection and authenticity.”

Mr Charadia said that judging was a joy but it was also a tremendous challenge with the high calibre of artworks submitted.

“Every year the Christmas Story competition becomes bigger and better than ever. Not only do we have to shortlist the best works from a record 900-plus entries, but we have to decide on first, second and third prizes among the Year 5 entrants, as well as, first, second and third from the hundreds of entries from Years 6 students,” he said.

“On top of that, two Catholic Weekly awards are given each year, along with the Spirit of Christmas Trophy donated each year by the Diocese of Wollongong and at least six other awards in different categories.

This year, in a first-ever in the competition’s history, two students took out the special Archbishop’s Choice Award.

Zoya Huang from St John the Evangelist Catholic Primary Campbelltown, and Danielle Scanlon from St Aloysius’ Catholic Primary Cronulla, came equal first for the top trophy for their respective artworks, ‘A Father’s Love’ and ‘The Saviour’s Star’.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that he was impressed with their designs, also reading “the fruits” of the students’ reflections.

“Evident in this collection of beautiful and reflective artworks and written texts is the Advent anticipation and Christmas joy of our young people,” he said. “I am filled with the same sense of excitement myself as Christmas approaches. We should be very proud of our year 5 and 6 students.”

Every year the Christmas Story competition becomes bigger and better than ever.

– John Charadia

Winning first prize in the Year 5 category was Catherine Kos of St John Bosco Catholic Primary Engadine. Her artwork, ‘The Journey’, celebrates the faith of the three wise men following the bright star.

In the Year 6 category, Rhys Gardiner from St Michael’s Catholic Primary Mittagong won first place. His entry, ‘A Different Perspective’, depicts the unexpected appearance of the Magi through baby Jesus’ eyes.

The 2015 Executive Director’s Acquisitive Award was awarded to Paris Bertram, a Year 5 student from St Christopher’s Catholic Primary Holsworthy.

Her unique artwork forms a tapestry of light and dark colours using a variety of stitches ­– long, short and diagonal ­– to represent the Nativity scene and to reflect the humility of Mary and Joseph.

All prize winners this year were awarded a special book prize in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the event. The book, ‘Jesus Played Marbles’, which was launched at the event, is an original story written by Robert Haddad, Head of New Evangelisation at Sydney Catholic schools, and Illustrated by Joshua Charadia, a former competition winner, who now studies a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School.

“Seven years ago, the Director of Schools in the Wollongong Diocese, Peter Turner, awarded my son Joshua with the inaugural ‘Spirit of Christmas’ Trophy,” Mr Charadia said.

“Now, Joshua is commending students in Year 5 with a book prize he illustrated.”

Mr Charadia is now also preparing to send the 2015 artworks of the Archbishop’s Choice and Executive Director’s awards to Rome where they will be hung again this year at Domus Australia for one year.

More than 400 students, parents, families, friends and teachers across the state gathered at the official opening yesterday to congratulate the winners and finalists of the 2015 exhibition.

Members of the public are welcome top enjoy the exhibition until Friday 1 January 2016 from 10am-4pm at the Crypt at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

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