INTERACTIVE: See our Christmas Story Art Exhibition 2019

News | INTERACTIVE: See our Christmas Story Art Exhibition 2019

Posted 21 October 2019 by Catholic Education in News

Over a thousand Years 5 and 6 children across the diocese began last term with blank canvases and sheets of paper. Now, 56 talented young students have had their artworks selected for the 2019 CEDoW Christmas Story Art Exhibition at the Wollongong Art Gallery – inspiring us with beautiful imagery and artistry, rich meaning and creative storytelling to celebrate the Christmas Story.

The Stage 3 Visual Arts competition is an initiative of the Catholic education offices in Wollongong and Sydney, designed to feature the children’s spiritual understanding and artistic abilities in illustrating the story of the birth of Christ.

In an impressive and diverse range of artworks that showcase both incredible artistic talent in our schools and deep creative thought and empathy among our students, this year’s Christmas Story Art Competition and Exhibition has produced a wonderful celebration of art as an expression of our Catholic faith and experiences of God in our world.

Years 5 and 6 children across the diocese have – with the guidance of their teachers – spent the best part of a term breaking open the Scriptures and engaging in a process of discerning and reflection to explore the many layers of meaning in the Christmas Story. They’ve then demonstrated their own interpretation of the story through a range of art mediums and techniques, each producing an individual piece of art for the competition.


INTERACTIVE WITH AUDIO: Explore our Christmas Story Art Exhibition – view all our top 56 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 here.

191021 View Virtual Tour here2

The judges thoroughly enjoyed examining the top 175 entries from students across all 30 of our primary and K-12 schools – looking at both their artworks and accompanying descriptions for a high standard of skills and techniques; an originality of illustration; consistency of style; depth of the personal reflection; and strength of connection to the Scriptures – to select the best 56 entries that would show at the exhibition.

These students, along with very proud parents and family members, staff and principals from our diocese’s primary schools, joined representatives from CEDoW, CatholicCare and the Office of the Bishop at the Wollongong Art Gallery – recognised as one of the most innovative regional art museums in Australia – to view the inspiring array of artworks and hear the announcement of the competition’s major award winners and finalists.

Skip to major award winners and finalists

CEDoW Head of Catholic Life, Education and Mission Services, Ken Bryant, opened the exhibition's awards evening, remarking on the outstanding aesthetic quality, imagination and meaning behind all the chosen artworks – exemplary of Stage 3 reflective writing and artistic skills.

“As you wander through this gallery, you cannot help but be inspired and enthralled, both by the quality of the work on display and by the wisdom and depth of each child’s profound reflections. How fitting that such expressions of creativity find their home and inspiration in the Christmas Story” — Ken Bryant, CEDoW Head of Catholic Life, Education and Mission Services

“This event aims to nourish the spirit of creativity in our budding artists, and judging by the evidence seen here this evening, these aims have not only been achieved, but exceeded. I sincerely congratulate every student who has entered, and importantly, thank our schools for the diversity of opportunities they provide to nurture the creative flair and talents of their students,” Mr Bryant said.

CEDoW Education Officer for Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking, and judge of the competition, John Charadia, told those gathered the panel of judges had greatly appreciated the patience, care, perseverance, and commitment to quality in all the students’ artworks.

“Hatching, cross-hatching, tinting, shading, blending, line, tone and texture are all looked at closely when considering the artistic merit in the chosen media: oil pastels, watercolours, acrylic paint, pencil and more,” Mr Charadia said.

"Expressiveness in each student's personal brush stroke, pencil technique, choice of colour and texture are also investigated closely. So much is conveyed by the student by the unique way their hand brings to life the image of their reflective thinking."

“Concepts such as faith, hope, journey and joy are at the core of the students’ expression, both artistically and in written form. Many of the artworks are an invitation to an intimate encounter with the personal thoughts of the student. We have discovered in their work, understandings about the strength of faith, the nurturing of values, and the power of family” — John Charadia, CEDoW Education Officer for Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking

“A real strength in their work is also the ability to step into the shoes of a scriptural character and see things from that perspective. These students have given attentive and thoughtful reflection to the hope and joy of the Christmas Story, and deserve our applause and appreciation. Well done students!”

camera galleryView our photo gallery of the exhibition here



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

Bishop’s Choice Award & STUDENTs' CHOICE AWARD


Diocese of Wollongong Vicar-General, Father Bernard Gordon, presented the 'Bishop’s Choice Award' on behalf of Bishop of Wollongong, Brian Mascord, to St Francis Edmondson Park Year 6 student, Olivia Abdal.

Bishop Brian had the privilege of viewing all the artworks during judging the previous week and, along with all the judges, was both moved and inspired by the wealth of perception and skill on show from all the students. Father Bernard conveyed the Bishop’s congratulations to Olivia and all the students on their achievements.

Olivia also won the 'Students’ Choice Award' on the night as voted by her peers, the other 55 students whose entries were on show at the gallery – a convincing endorsement of Olivia’s eye-catching and distinctive use of paper tolling to portray Mary and, as her artwork is entitled, ‘A Mother’s Love’. Olivia said she chose the technique because it was “unique and rare, just like Mary’s immaculate conception”.

191021 Christmas Story Art 2019 Bishops Choice Award

Director’s CHOICE Award


CEDoW Head of Catholic Life, Education and Mission Services, Ken Bryant, presented the ‘Director’s Choice Award’ on behalf of Director of Schools, Peter Turner, to St Francis Edmondson Park Year 6 student, Abbey Trotter.

Mr Bryant said the ‘Director’s Choice Award’ was given to the artwork that best expressed the essence of Christmas and the message of peace, hope and joy.

“As one looks upon these works of art and reads the deep and often very personal reflections, it is sometimes hard to imagine that such gifts and wisdom emanate from young people who are only 10, 11 or 12 years of age. To Abbey, and to all our students – you grace us with the generous sharing of your gifts. On behalf of us all, I say thank you” — Ken Bryant, CEDoW Head of Catholic Life, Education and Mission Services

191021 Christmas Story Art 2019 Directors Choice Award



CatholicCare Wollongong Director, Michael Austin, presented the ‘Star of Hope Award’ to Ss Peter and Paul Kiama Year 6 student, Elias Oldfield, praising him for the vision, time and effort that had gone into creating this hope-filled artwork.

“In the delivery of our work at CatholicCare, one of our most important aims is to engender a sense of hope. Hope enables us to see possibilities where otherwise we would only see barriers, and hope is what inspires us to positive action. So it is befitting that CatholicCare is a proud sponsor of the 'Star of Hope Award' each year,” Mr Austin told those gathered.

Mr Austin shared his delight at this being the first indigenous artwork to win the award, noting that over the past 8 years, CatholicCare has worked proactively with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, championing the importance of reconciliation.

“We felt Elias’s artwork in particular powerfully represented both a sense of hope and a deep respect for the heritage of this land and our first people. This work was incredibly meaningful, combining the strong themes of Aboriginal culture and traditions with the Gospel of Jesus” — Michael Austin, CatholicCare Director

191021 Christmas Story Art 2019 CatholicCare Award


The judges selected 17 artworks as finalists, which will now go on to represent the Diocese of Wollongong in the larger Sydney Christmas Story Art Competition and Exhibition hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney, with artwork entries from multiple NSW dioceses. This will be held at Notre Dame University from the first Sunday of Advent in December.

The Catholic Weekly  will also feature the Sydney exhibition's artworks in a special booklet in its newspaper, producing over 10,000 copies for circulation – a booklet which received an award last year for best supplement in a newspaper.

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.

Year 6 Finalists

winnermedalCharlotte Cornett

St Paul’s Camden

winnermedalJada Halls

St Paul’s Camden

winnermedalChristian Patricio

St Paul’s Camden

winnermedalJames Papal-latoc

St John the Evangelist Campbelltown

winnermedalOlivia Abdal

St Francis Edmondson Park

winnermedalAbbey Trotter

St Francis Edmondson Park

winnermedalElias Oldfield

Ss Peter and Paul Kiama

winnermedalLeo Wallace-Pannell

Ss Peter and Paul Kiama

winnermedalMax Gardiner

St Michael’s Mittagong

Ewinnermedallizabeth (Lily) Clarke

St Thomas More Ruse

Year 5 Finalists
winnermedalSean Bancroft

St Paul’s Albion Park

winnermedalArielia Dickinson

St Joseph's Bulli

winnermedalAngelisa D'Costa               

St Paul's Camden

winnermedalNikolas Kuk

St Francis Edmondson Park

winnermedalLaylah Pereira

St Justin's Oran Park

winnermedalMia Gemayell

Our Lady Help of Christians Rosemeadow

winnermedalAta Schwenke

St Therese West Wollongong


Nine deserving students also received a ‘Highly Commended’ award for their artistic achievement and understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Congratulations to the following students:  

Year 6 Highly Commended

Health Gillis

St Paul's Albion Park

Emma Colbourn

St Thomas Aquinas Bowral

Sienna Donnelly

St Joseph’s Bulli

Sommer Deacon          

Holy Cross Helensburgh

Mannat Kaur

St Michael's Mittagong

Year 5 Highly Commended

Kiara Morgan

St Joseph’s Bulli

Alessandra (Ally) Ezquerro

St Columbkille’s Corrimal

Shaydine Nolan

Holy Family Ingleburn

Daunte Correia

St Francis of Assisi Warrawong


Strong student representation

A special congratulations to St Joseph’s Bulli – the only school to have all six of their school's entries into the CEDoW competition selected for the exhibition. Creative Arts teacher at the school, Paola Birac [pictured below with the six successful St Joseph's students], said the students had worked hard to achieve this success.

“I think the key to success is to begin by really getting the students to engage with the Scriptures, and figure out what the message is and how they want to respond to it. The next part is to provide the materials that they feel most skilled in. The students at St Joseph's love art,” she said.

St Joseph’s Bulli student and finalist in this year’s competition, Arielia Dickinson, said she and her classmates had learned "numerous lessons" in art with Mrs Birac. "At St Joseph’s, I’ve learned how to use soft pastels to set a mood or feeling in my artwork for the viewer and how to make my artwork really effective by using different colour choices. I've also learned you can’t rush art," she said.

“I thoroughly enjoy learning new techniques at school and finding new ways to always improve, even when I think I’m done. I also enjoy using materials that I never knew existed – like the soft pastels, as well as watercolour pencils and moldable rubbers” — Arielia Dickinson, St Joseph’s Bulli student and Christmas Story Art finalist


Each of the 56 young artists selected for the exhibition received a Certificate of Achievement – a sign of gratitude from CEDoW for the students’ dedication and creativity.

CEDoW CLEM Education Officer and organiser of this year’s competition, Cath Hailstone, congratulated the students on their talents and many hours of hard work.

“The quality of our students’ artworks and descriptions have been outstanding this year. The students have demonstrated a wonderful interpretation of the Scriptures. Thank you so much students for sharing your gifts with us, and to all of our schools for your support of this competition,” she said.

The CEDoW Christmas Story Art Exhibition is open to family, friends and the public until Wednesday 23 October, at the Wollongong Art Gallery (Corner Kembla and Burelli Streets, Wollongong) on Tuesdays - Fridays (10am-5pm) and weekends (12pm-4pm).

For more information on the competition and exhibition, visit our CEDoW Christmas Story Art webspace


Congratulations to our CEDoW finalists who have had their artworks exhibited at the University of Notre Dame this December for the 14th annual Sydney Catholic Schools Christmas Story Art Competition and Exhibition.

Over 15,000 artworks from Years 5 and 6 students across the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Dioceses of Wollongong and Bathurst, and from Catholic students in NSW public schools were entered in the competition, culminating in this Sydney exhibition.

It was wonderful to see our top 17 CEDoW student entries shine brightly amongst 88 finalists’ artworks selected for display at Notre Dame.

Congratulations to the following students who went on to receive awards at the Sydney Christmas Story Art Competition:

gold trophycupArchbishop's Choice Trophy
Sean Bancroft, Year 5, St Paul's Albion Park

gold trophycupArtistic Achievement Award
Olivia Abdal, Year 6, St Francis Edmondson Park

2nd silver medalYear 5 – Second Prize
Nikolas Kuk, St Francis Edmondson Park

3rd bronze medalYear 5 – Third Prize
Angelisa D'Costa, St Paul's Camden

winnermedalYear 5 – Highly Commended Award
Laylah Pereira, St Justin's Oran Park

winnermedalYear 6 – Highly Commended Awards
Jada Halls, St Paul's Camden
                 Max Gardiner, St Michael's Mittagong
                 Elias Oldfield, Ss Peter and Paul Kiama
                 Abbey Trotter, St Francis Edmondson Park
                 Leo Wallace-Pannell, Ss Peter and Paul Kiama

gold trophycupYear 6 – Journey Award
Lily Clarke, St Thomas More Ruse

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said he was proud of all the Year 5 and 6 students who had participated in the competition and whose work featured in the exhibition.

“Some artistic expressions are true roads to God... their beauty connects us to God, and allows us to feel His presence. Reading and viewing our young people’s reflections on Sacred Scripture on the birth of Christ, I am filled with that sense of connection” — Anthony Fisher, Sydney Archbishop

“Thank you to our teachers, parents and others who have helped our young people in this year's competition. I hope those who continue to facilitate this creative and reflective process of our children also feel keenly the anticipation of Advent hope and Christmas peace,” the Archbishop said.

This year, students’ artworks and scriptural reflections will be shared with a wide audience through the inclusion of the official Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition booklet in The Catholic Weekly.


WIN News Illawarra - 18 October 2019 - Catholic students' artworks shine in Christmas Story Art Exhibition

South Coast Register - 17 October 2019 - Kiama students winners in Christmas art competition

Milton Ulladulla Times - 17 October 2019 - St Mary's students' artwork exhibited in Wollongong

Southern Highland News - 1 November 2019 - Highlands students recognised for Christmas Story art competition

The Catholic Weekly - 4 December 2019 - Brushing up on the Nativity

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