Record Number of Entries for this Year's Children's Christmas Story Art Exhibition & Competition

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 Nov 2014

Kacy Liu St Joachim's Primary, Lidcombe with her richly imagined entry

Oils, pastels, crayons, acrylics, water colour, collage, charcoal and photography are among the many different approaches chosen by Year 5 and Year 6 students for their entries in the Archdiocese of Sydney's annual Children's Christmas Art Competition and Exhibition.

Now in its eighth year, the Archdiocese's Children's Art Competition and Exhibition has become a much-loved tradition in the lead up to Christmas and each year more and more children take part.

Encouraged to create art works and written reflections on Advent and the meaning of Christmas from their studies in their Religious Education classes, youngsters at 78 Catholic primary schools in Sydney and more than 45 primary schools in the Dioceses of Bathurst and Wollongong, began working on their entries in September.

An estimated 15,000 children from well over 120 schools participated. From this number a short list of 900 was created by asking RE teachers from each of the schools to submit the three best Year 5 entries and the three best Year 6 entries.

The Three Kings by Aoife Watson from Sacred Heart Primary, Mosman

"When we first began the Competition, there'd only be about 10 or 20 standouts. Two years ago this had increased to around 50 to 100 standouts among the hundreds of entries we received. But this year, the overall quality, standard and the originality of the submissions made short listing entries down to just 90 almost impossible," says John Charadia, Creative Arts Advisor for the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catholic Education Office (CEO).

With room for a maximum of just 90 artworks in the Crypt at St Mary's Cathedral where the Children's Christmas Story Art Exhibition goes on display each year, John says judging this year was the most difficult yet.

Not that he is complaining.

"This year's entries are impressive both in the high calibre and authenticity of the children's artworks and the sophistication of many of the accompanying reflections, which show an insight and understanding well beyond their years," he says.

The Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary by Deanna Burton St Pius X Unanderra

Earlier this month, working from 7 am through until 7 pm, John and his fellow judges studied the 900 artworks submitted from primary schools as well as the children's written reflections on Christmas and their faith.

In addition to John, this year's panel of judges comprised artist-tutor, Amanda McPaul-Browne, Wanda Grein of the Anise Art Consultancy and Les Quick, Archibald Prize veteran and art teacher at James Sheehan Catholic High School, Orange.

However there was one category which was not judged but was instead left to Sydney's new Archbishop, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP.

This year Archbishop Anthony will present one of the many budding artists who entered the Competition with the inaugural Archbishop's Choice Award. And just as Cardinal George Pell personally chose the winner of the Cardinal's Choice Trophy in previous years, Archbishop Anthony has personally chosen the artwork that will become the first-ever winner of  this year's Archbishop's Choice Award.

Mary and Joseph and their journey by Bianca Comin of Holy Spirit Primary School, Carnes Hill

On Friday this week, John and his team will mount the exhibition in the Crypt which will be officially opened by Archbishop Anthony on the first Sunday in Advent which occurs this Sunday, 30 November.

The opening of the exhibition which will remain on display in the Crypt until the start of Epiphany on 6 January 2015 will take place after the 10.30 Solemn Mass at the St Mary's Cathedral and the annual Blessing of the Outdoor Nativity in Cathedral Square by Archbishop Anthony at 12.00.

More than 400 are expected to attend Sunday's official opening of the Children's Christmas Art Exhibition and will include children whose artworks are on display, their families, teachers, school principals, members of the Archdiocese's Catholic Education Office, the Bathurst Catholic Education Office and the Diocese of Wollongong's Catholic Education Office.

Archbishop Anthony assisted by Anthony Cleary, Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catholic Education Office, will present prizes to the winners and the finalists in this year's competition.
Together with the Archbishop's Choice Award this year's prize giving will also feature a Students' Choice Award.

Chloe Suna Jung St Martha's Primary, Strathfield interpreted the Nativity in pastels and crayon

"Each of the winners and finalists has been sent a coloured voting card marked with their name and the number of their art work, and on the day they will be asked to choose which of the artworks on display, other than their own, that they like best," says John.