The UNE Schools Acquisitive Art Prize (UNESAP) 2021 Let's Hang It! exhibition is now on display at the New England Regional Art Museum, and it includes the winning entries from Armidale, Banora Point, and Tamworth.
The annual exhibition has become a significant event on the calendar for participating schools, with this year's show receiving more than 470 entries from 39 schools.
NERAM director Rachel Parsons said she was delighted by the breadth of schools who entered works from students in Armidale, Bingara, Black Mountain, Uralla, Bundarra, Chandler, Coffs Harbour, Cowper, Dorrigo, Tamworth, Glen Innes, Guyra, Kempsey, Kentucky, Narrabri, Uralla, Port Macquarie, Rocky River, Walcha, Tenterfield, Grafton, and Yarrowitch.
"We were once again blown away by the talent of the region's young artists," Ms Parsons said.
"I'd like to thank all of the students for sharing their work and creativity and the teachers for supporting the students and assisted in the student participation."
Armidale students produced 23 of the 60 finalist works picked by a panel of arts and education professionals tasked with choosing exhibition-worthy works for the four age categories: infants, primary, junior secondary, and senior secondary.
"The selecting of finalists for UNESAP is one of the highlights of my year, and this time I was thrilled to share the privilege with NERAM's Education Officer Alexis Rickards and UNE representatives Alistair Noble, Dean of HASS, and academic Michael Brogan," said NERAM manager exhibitions & curatorial Belinda Hungerford.
"The imagination and creativity that school students demonstrate in their art is a real delight, and the skill is frankly inspiring."
From the finalists' exhibition, local artist Ben Tooth chose fifteen works for special mention, including the four first prize winners.
These winning works by Sophie Bagster, Layla McKee, Sebastian Wilkinson, and Bentley Turner-Vallance will become a part of the UNE art collection to be displayed around the University campus in Armidale.
St Joseph's Primary School Uralla was named the most outstanding school, and the director's choice award went to Dana Navkhosh from Armidale.
UNESAP has been developed through an ongoing partnership with the University of New England and is in its eighteenth year.
The competition was established by the UNE Faculty of Professions (now the UNE Faculty of Education) in 2004 to promote interest in the visual arts amongst primary and secondary school teachers and encourage talented young artists around regional NSW.
The 2021 exhibition will also include an online component after the success of last year's digital show.
"We learned some fantastic lessons last year due to COVID19, including the potential of using digital media to increase access to and the impact of UNESAP," Ms Parsons.
"This year, we will have both a physical and digital exhibition to allow more people than ever to experience the fantastic talent of the region's young artists.
"Of course, we are thrilled to also be able to hang the exhibition in the galleries at NERAM."
The finalist works are viewable on the NERAM website, and voting for the popular People's Choice Award is also now open online. The digital exhibition and voting will be open to the public throughout the show.
The UNESAP exhibition will be on display at New England Regional Art Museum until August 15.
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