Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Budding young artists and their families from around NSW gathered at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) on Friday night where they eagerly awaited the announcement of the 2023 winners of the UNESAP school art prize.

This year’s winners were: Infants – Indi Rose Quinn, with her artwork called Chip, kinder, Chatsworth Island Public School; Primary – Alice Pearson, Pieces of Kokoda, collage, year 5, Martin’s Gully Public School; Junior secondary – Micah Wilson, Mother with Cats, acrylic paint, year 9, Armidale Secondary College; Senior secondary – Helena McLean, God shall smite the liars, year 10, Narrabri High School; Director’s choice winner was Kalani Maduwage, Ostrich (after Brett Whiteley), year 7, PLC Armidale.

UNESAP – which celebrates its 20th year in 2023 – was established by the UNE as a school-based art project to raise the profile, status and interest in the visual arts in New South Wales’ regional and rural schools.

Young artists from Banora Point in the Tweed to Binnaway in the Central West as well as hundreds of students from the New England and the North West submitted their colourful and creative artworks to NERAM to be judged for the 2023 awards.

Hannah Palmer, a year 12 student at Bundarra Central School and her artwork The View, were finalists in the UNESAP awards.

This year’s competition saw 50 schools enter the competition and more than 500 artworks sent in for judging from students from kindy to year 12. 

59 finalists for the awards were selected in July and those artworks will be on display at NERAM until August 13. 

UNESAP Let’s Hang It! is definitely a highlight on NERAM’s calendar, one which all staff look forward to,” said NERAM curator Belinda Hungerford.

“Each year we are amazed by the creativity, imagination, and skill of the participating school students and the dedication of their teachers.

“This year’s opening night and prize-giving ceremony was full of excitement and anticipation with the young artists attending with their families and schoolteachers. The air was abuzz with excitement.”

Finalist Elizabeth Sowerby from year 5 at Uralla Central School with her artwork Bloom Froom (Simon Scott)

NERAM director Rachael Parsons said it was important to highlight the vital role that arts education plays in not only inspiring future artists, but in engaging and motivating students to succeed in a wide range of study areas by teaching students to be creative, imaginative and critical problem solvers. 

“UNESAP acknowledges how important arts education is and provides a program that will encourage students to be creative and get involved.”    

This year’s UNESAP judge was local artist Isabelle Devos who said: “As a whole I felt that I could easily have awarded many prizes in each age or year category.

“The art works were exciting, beautiful, strong and so diverse. It truly is a really difficult thing to pick just a few. I am very impressed with the art works and encourage everyone who submitted work to be very proud of their creativity and observational skills.”



Winner: Indi Rose Quinn, Chip, paint, kinder, Chatsworth Island Public School.

Runner up: Mackenzie Larkings, Pretty Bunny World in the Night, watercolour, year 1, St Patrick’s Primary School, Walcha. Highly commended: Kate Mitchell, The Mountain Ranges, oil pastel and paint, year 1, Premer Public School. Highly commended: Sunny Van Ingen, Maggie, watercolour, year 2, Tamworth Public School.


Winner: Alice Pearson, Pieces of Kokoda, collage, year 5, Martin’s Gully Public School.

Runner up: Harrison Cain, Kittens, photography, year 4, Rocky River Public School.

Highly commended: Freda Schaeffer, Onslow and His Drool, paint, watercolour and chalk pastel, year 3, PLC Armidale. Highly commended: Ryka Pankaj, Peaceful Whispers in Serenity, watercolour paint, year 6, Ben Venue Public School.

Runner up in the primary awards was Harrison Cain, Kittens, photography, year 4, at Rocky River Public School. Pictured with his family enjoying the UNESAP opening night. (Simon Scott)


Winner: Micah Wilson, Mother with Cats, acrylic paint, year 9, Armidale. Secondary College. Runner up: Kai Janjic, Jelly Fashes, digital art, year 9, ALESCO Senior School, Tuncurry. Highly commended: Sofia Gonzalez, Drowning, paint, crayon, marker and pencil, year 8, St Clare’s High School, Taree.


Winner: Helena McLean, God Shall Smite the Liars, acrylic paint, year 10, Narrabri High School. Runner up: Darius Naylor, My Story, acrylic painting, year 10, Walcha Central School. Highly commended: Kya-Rose Read, On the Train, digital drawing, year 12, Tenterfield High School.

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE: Kalani Maduwage, Ostrich (after Brett Whiteley), indian ink, year 7, PLC Armidale.

Finalist Aidan Rosberg, from year 12 at TAS with is artwork The Dissenter. (Simon Scott)

Photos: Simon Scott.

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