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Young Talent Shines Bright in Art Bytes’ National Celebration

Among the highlights were the announcements of regional and national winners in two age groups. Kit from Helen Allison Primary School in the South East triumphed in the Year 5 category, while Oliver from Houlton School in the West Midlands took home the top prize for Year 9.

Art Bytes is a unique platform that not only provides primary, secondary, and SEND schools across England the opportunity to participate in an inter-school art competition but also features cutting-edge virtual gallery technology. Managed by the social enterprise dot-art, this initiative builds on 12 years of success with the dot-art Schools project in Liverpool. Research by Liverpool Hope University and Curious Minds has validated the program’s ability to nurture talent, raise ambition, and develop confidence among young artists.

Amid a concerning 47% drop in arts GCSE entries since 2010, Art Bytes underscores the critical role of creativity in education. It’s not just about cultivating the next generation of artists but equipping our future workforce with essential skills and supporting student mental health—a concern that has intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year saw nearly 100 schools participate in the third annual competition, showcasing an exceptional standard of artwork. A distinguished panel of industry experts, including Marlene Wylie, President of the National Society for Education in Art & Design (NSEAD), Education Consultant Paul Carney and Tony Heaton OBE, renowned sculptor and Chair of Shape Arts, along with Jane Barnes Executive Director of The Big Draw and a student judge Maria Oliveira, who selected the top three pieces from each school. Following this, a public vote determined the school winners, whose work is now proudly displayed in the Art Bytes Virtual Gallery: The final selection of regional and national winners was a challenging task for the judges, reflecting the remarkable talent on display, and based on confident use of materials, technical skill as well as an imaginative or innovative approach to the work.

Judge Paula Briggs, CEO of AccessArt said:

“It is incredibly hard to decide upon winners when the works are so varied, and there is always lots of really important conversation to be had about what it is that makes an engaging work of art. I really hope all the winners feel inspired to take their interest in art further but would also like to say to all entrants: keep making art – for yourself and for others – the world needs your creativity!”

The nine celebration events were a feast of creativity, featuring gallery tours, workshops, exhibitions of student artwork, and the presentation of certificates and prizes. The atmosphere was electric as winning students, their families, and teachers gathered to celebrate their achievements.

Charlotte Finnan, a proud parent, expressed her joy:

“It was an absolute pleasure to attend this event. It was well thought out, beautifully presented, and a joy to be surrounded by such amazing young artists.”

Teacher Charlotte Jones added:

“The Art Bytes competition has been a tremendous success at our school over the past few years. It’s been a fantastic way for all our Year 5 pupils to get creative, showcase their work, and celebrate their achievements with the wider school community. We were thrilled when one of our students won the regional and national primary competition last year, which has allowed us to further promote the arts in our school and beyond.”

Art Bytes is dedicated to building cultural capital and inspiring young people to view galleries as welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring spaces in their communities. The program’s collaboration with prestigious venues highlights the immense value of art in education.

Schools interested in joining this vibrant community of young artists can sign up now for the 2024/2025 program on the Art Bytes website: Don’t miss this opportunity to inspire and be inspired!

Venue Partners:

• North West: The Whitworth Art Gallery
• North East: The Shipley
• Yorkshire and Humber: Leeds Art Gallery
• East Midlands: Derby QUAD
• West Midlands, The New Art Gallery Walsall
• Greater London: Chisenhale Gallery
• South West: Chippenham Museum
• South East: Watts Gallery
• East of England, Kettles Yard

National Winners

Colour Composition, Kit Powdrill, Helen Allison Primary (SE)

Line Drawing, Oliver Holbrook, Houlton School (WM)

National Runners-Up

Collage 5, Cali L M, Holy Trinity & St Silas Primary School (GL)
We Are Wild!, Ella McDermott, Scarlet Smith & Ellie Lancaster, Grange Primary (NE)

Jam Jar of Thought 2, Dori Beck, Coleridge Community College (E)
Portrait, Sophie S, High Tunstall College (NE)

Regional Winners

North East
Primary: We Are Wild!, Ella McDermott, Scarlet Smith & Ellie Lancaster, Grange Primary
Secondary: Portrait, Sophie S, High Tunstall College

North West
Primary: Series of Sapphires, Sapphire Morrisey-Jones, Manchester Hospital School Secondary: Buff Monster, Max O, Peterhouse School

Primary: Midsummer Night’s Dream Set 2, Astrid Reay, Carr Manor Primary
Secondary: Skateboard 15, Seth Baum, Ryedale School

East Midlands
Primary: Viking Ship 5, Lily Bunsell, Hardingstone Academy School
Secondary: Lines 1, Lewis Tompkins, Redmoor Academy

West Midlands
Primary: Character Catastrophe, Hukmi Dosanjh, Aylesford School
Secondary: Line Drawing, Oliver Holbrook, Houlton School

South East
Primary: Colour Composition, Kit Powdrill, Helen Allison Primary
Secondary: Sweets, Sophie Tregoning, Blenheim School

South West
Primary: Field of Flowers, Madeleine Bolton, Monkton Park Primary School
Secondary: Kurt Jackson 14, K, Abbeyfield School

Greater London
Primary: Collage 5, Cali L M, Holy Trinity & St Silas Primary School
Secondary: Dragons in London, EG, Southbank International School

Primary: Blitz, Archie Farthing, Kettlefields Primary
Secondary: Jam Jar of Thought 2, Dori Beck, Coleridge Community College

Art Bytes is open to all Primary (year 5), Secondary (year 9) and SEND schools in England.

Schools can find out more and sign up for next academic year at until the end of December 2024.