News | CEDOW 2020 Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition Goes Virtual

Posted 14 October 2020 by Catholic Education in News

If you’re lucky enough to visit the Wollongong Art Gallery over the next month, what a beautiful sight you will see. In a year marred by disappointments and challenges brought on by COVID-19, the 52 inspiring student artworks selected for the 2020 CEDOW Christmas Story Art Exhibition and competition, provide creative and artistic examples of hope and joy, as illustrated through the message of the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus. 

Talented students from Years 5 and 6 in 29 schools throughout the diocese have engaged, with the support of their dedicated teachers, in the artistic and creative process to explore the deeper meaning of the Christmas story, using the Scripture taken from the Year 5 & Year 6 Religious Education Curriculum Advent and Christmas units. 

Based on a selection criteria including originality of illustration; depth of personal reflection; connection to the scriptures; the standard of skills and techniques, this year’s diverse range of artworks demonstrated both the depth of originality and reflective thinking of the talented students. 

Five judges had the challenging task of examining the 170 inspiring artworks and detailed reflections, to select the top artworks for exhibit. CEDoW Education Officer for Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking, and competition judge, John Charadia, said the judges were moved and inspired by the quality of work provided by the students and congratulated them on their achievements. 

“The artworks are an invitation to an intimate encounter with each student’s personal thoughts and understanding of their strength of faith. The students have provided examples of what you receive when deep reflective thinking on the story of hope and joy is made through the true message of Christmas”  - John Charadia, CEDoW Education Officer for Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking.


View our interactive virtual tour of the Christmas story art exhibition 2020

INTERACTIVE WITH AUDIO: Explore our Christmas Story Art Exhibition – view all our top 52 students' artworks as displayed at the Wollongong Art Gallery. Zoom in to see each artwork in closer detail and hear from each student as they describe their artwork to you. View our virtual tour 

Virtual Tour Graphic 2021


Director of Schools, Diocese of Wollongong, Peter Hill, opened the exhibition, applauding the budding artists for the commitment and creativity that went into each artwork and thanking all involved for their encouragement and support.

“The exceptionally high standard of such young artists never ceases to amaze me. While it’s true a picture paints a thousand words, there is something truly special about hearing the artists express their individual encounter with their God in their own words. They demonstrate a simple joy and hope-filled message of the Christmas story that is quite frankly inspiring. In this context, art is not only inspired by awe and imagination, it is a way for all of us to reflect on the integral message of the Christmas story – God coming into being with us, in human form, as a small and vulnerable infant – the Word made flesh" - Peter Hill, CEDoW Director of Schools.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Official Opening of the Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition for this year was a virtual event.   

CLEM Primary Education Officer and organiser of this year’s competition, Cath Hailstone was delighted that the awards ceremony and exhibition were able to continue. 

“CEDoW has been a successful participant in ‘The Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition’ hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney since 2008, and have been holding our own regional exhibition since 2012,” said Mrs Hailstone. “Although we could not all be in one place, it was wonderful that we still had the opportunity to gather together as one community.”



Congratulations to the following students who received the four major awards of the night: 


Ava Lamour - ST michael's, mittagong

Ava’s artwork titled “Through Joseph’s Eyes”, depicts the loving scene that Joseph witnessed between Mary and her newborn son. “Have you ever wondered what Joseph felt as he gazed at his newborn, wrapped in the arms of his new wife?” said Ava. “The love of a parent is infinite and strong. Deep down, Joseph knew that Jesus wasn’t his own, however, he knew he would love him like his own.” 

Inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and his technique of showing emotion in his artwork, Ava used dashes and swirls with watercolour to add the emotions of sadness, love, and compassion. 

Bishop of Wollongong, Most Rev Brian Mascord was both moved and inspired by Ava’s reflection and the image of love depicted in her artwork. 

“There were many things about this year’s choice that filled me with delight. I congratulate Ava on her insight at looking at the story, not just through the experience of Mary, but looking at it from Joseph’s perspective, who we know very little about” - Most Rev Brian Mascord, Bishop of Wollongong. 

200924 CHRISTMAS ART 127 Bishop Brian5_________________________________________________________________



The Director’s Choice Award was awarded to St Clare’s, Narellan Vale Year 6 student, Jack Wilson, for his artwork titled ‘The Annunciation’. 

Jack’s drawing of Mary on her knees with her hands together and her head bowed captured her humility, while Angel Gabriel’s white robe illustrated the peaceful and pure nature of angels. 

“The luminous light overshadowing Gabriel and Mary represents the significance of the message from God,” said Jack. “The light also symbolises the impending visit to Mary from the Holy Spirit.”

CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Hill, was drawn to the moodiness and intensity of Mary’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel that was captured in the artwork. 

“I love the light in this artwork, the light of God. The doorway in the artwork depicts the possibilities that we’re drawn to through our faith. The artwork also depicts Mary’s humility, her yes to God’s call, and her faith. I hope it speaks to us all because we are called to be humble like Mary, to give service and light the way” - Peter Hill, CEDoW Director of Schools. 

200924 CHRISTMAS ART 121 Peter Hill2_____________________________________________________________

CatholicCare 'Star of hope' AWARD

Christiano haddad - ST Therese, West Wollongong 

CatholicCare Wollongong ‘Star of Hope Award’ was awarded to St Therese, West Wollongong Year 6 student, Christiano Haddad. Christiano’s artwork titled ‘Every Step Counts’ illustrates the strength and courage of Mary and Joseph who never gave up hope as they fled to Egypt. 

“Their overwhelming journey reminds me of my family’s migration from the war in Iraq to the safety of Australia,” said Christiano. “Like Joseph, my father protected our family and led us to a better future.”

Inspired by the recent bushfires in Australia and the new life that comes from the ashes, Christiano used a pyrography pen to burn his image in wood and create a rustic texture.

CatholicCare Wollongong Director, Michael Austin, praised Christiano for the vision, and time and effort that had gone into creating such a hope-filled artwork. 

“I chose this artwork because it powerfully illustrates that through hope we do take the next step. Hope enables us to see possibilities where otherwise we would only see barriers. Hope inspires action” - Michael Austin, Director, CatholicCare Wollongong.

200924 CHRISTMAS ART 113 Michael Austin2__________________________________________________________



Due to COVID restrictions, it was not possible to conduct the annual Student Choice Award. As an alternative, this year’s competition offered a ‘Packing Room Prize”. Based on the concept offered as part of the Archibald prize competition, staff in the Catholic Education Office had the opportunity to view all the finalists’ artworks and vote for their favourite artwork. 

Ata’s artwork titled ‘Mother of Nations’ captured Mary holding baby Jesus, and included images of other coloured women. “As an Indigenous person of Samoa, I had never seen a coloured Mary in any church, which to me, is an inaccurate depiction of her background. This artwork was my way of saying that everyone shall be included,” said Ata.

The voting process for the Packing Room Prize also served as a fundraising activity for CatholicCare’s Family and Sibling Support (SIBS) Program. 

Ken with Xmas Art 2 2____________________________________________________________


The artworks of 21 talented students were selected to represent the Diocese of Wollongong in the upcoming Sydney Christmas Story Art Competition hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney. Artworks from the Sydney exhibition will once again be featured in a special booklet in The Catholic Weekly

View each students’ artwork up close and hear an audio recording of the student describing their artwork in our INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL TOUR of the exhibition here.


winnermedalElias Maounis

St Paul’s, Albion Park

winnermedalElise Esterich

St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral

winnermedalEden Butler

St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral

winnermedalNeve Dignam

St Joseph’s, Bulli

winnermedalKiara Morgan

St Joseph’s, Bulli

winnermedalIsabella Levan

St Paul’s, Camden

winnermedalAlessandro Ezquerro

St Columbkille's, Corrimal

winnermedalMitchell King

St Michael’s, Mittagong

winnermedal Ava Lamour

St Michael’s, Mittagong

winnermedalJack Wilson 

St Clare’s, Narellan Vale

winnermedalPaige Madden

St Francis of Assisi, Warrawong

winnermedalAta Schwenke

St Therese, West Wollongong

winnermedalChristiano Haddad

St Therese, West Wollongong


winnermedalLeila Van Akker 

St Joseph’s, Bulli

winnermedalEmily Benefiel

St Joseph’s, Bulli

winnermedalMonique Summa           

St Michael’s, Thirroul

winnermedalAudrey Mackey

St Michael’s, Thirroul

winnermedalOliver Connelly

St Paul’s, Camden

winnermedalKobe Perkins

St Paul’s, Camden

winnermedalScarlett Winkler

St Paul’s, Camden



14 deserving students were recipients of a ‘Highly Commended’ award for their artistic achievement and understanding of the Christmas Scripture. Congratulations to the following students:  


Amber Crosland

St Francis, Edmondson Park

Ana Marija Boceska

St Francis of Assisi, Warrawong

Ruby Corrie

St John’s, Dapto

Charlie Tuckey

St John’s, Dapto

Neála Chaston

St Joseph's Bulli

Noah Manojlovic

St Paul's Camden

Angelique Rhodes

St Thomas Aquinas Bowral

Keegan McIlwaine

Stella Maris Shellharbour


The CEDoW Christmas Story Art Exhibition is open to family, friends, and the public until Sunday 29 November, at the Wollongong Art Gallery (Corner Kembla and Burelli Streets, Wollongong) on Tuesdays - Fridays (10 am-5 pm) and weekends (12 pm-4 pm).

View the Official Opening of the Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition for 2020 here 

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