The competition, which is open to secondary school students from United Learning academies and independent schools across the country, encourages young artists to showcase their artistic talents by creating an original piece of artwork. The top four students now hope to see their work exhibited at the acclaimed International High School Arts Festival in Tokyo, with the winner also receiving an all-expenses paid trip to Japan to see their artwork on display in person.
This year saw 54 entries to the competition which were put before three different audiences– social media, the Group’s art teachers and professional artist Emma Reynolds – who had the challenging task of voting for their favourite pieces. Based on the votes they received from each audience, the students’ creations were then ranked and given a final score out of 30. The student with the highest overall score was crowned the winner.
Billie from Stockport Academy, who scored an impressive 23 points, won the top prize for her drawing ‘AL’. Her creation was inspired by a meeting with Al, a man experiencing homelessness in her local community. Through her drawing, Billie wanted to capture his positivity and cheerfulness and show that, regardless of the different situations people may find themselves in, everyone is the same at heart.
Closely following in runner-up position was Farah, also from Stockport Academy, who scored 21 points for her piece ‘Pride in my Hijab’. In third place was J Jay from AKS Lytham who scored 19 points for his artwork ‘Reflection = Perception’, whilst Lelani from United Sixth Form secured 17 points to take home fourth place for her painting ‘Dad’.
Speaking about her piece, winning artist Billie, said:
"Al’s smile conveyed much more than his words. Somehow, although our lives were so far apart we had found in just a few minutes, through a kind gesture, a connection. It was a connection which said ‘we are the same, we are people, and I care’.”
Emma Reynolds, the judging artist, said:
“It was a huge pleasure to be asked to judge this competition, and I was so blown away and impressed by the incredible standard of artwork. Every student's observations skills are excellent, and I was especially impressed with the students who combined this skill with the storytelling and symbolism in their pieces.
“Huge congratulations to the winner! This is a really great portrait with excellent detail. The subject matter choice is very striking and pertinent in these hard times of austerity measures, welfare cuts and lack of help for the homeless in this country - something I think is important to highlight.”
Now in its twelfth year, the United Learning Art Competition is just one of the ways that we strive to deliver an Education with Character to young people across our Group. This means giving our pupils access to enriching and exciting opportunities where they can challenge themselves, try new things and develop their creative talents.