The winners of national art competition, Create! Art for Autism 2012, have been unveiled at an awards ceremony at Beechwood College, near Cardiff. 

More than 550 entries were received for this year’s competition, across four categories: 2D art, 3D art, digital art and poetry. The judging panel, which was led by actress Jane Asher and television and radio presenter Gaby Roslin, selected the winners and the highly commended artists for each category and presented them with their awards.A fifth category – the People’s Choice – was open for votes from the public in partnership with the Times Educational Supplement and received 1,040 votes.

Now in its second year, the competition is open to all young people aged 11-25 years that have formally been diagnosed with autistic spectrum condition (ASC). It aims to dispel the myth that young people with autism cannot be creative and shows how art can significantly improve their quality of life.The winners of Create! Art for Autism 2012 were:

2D art Winner:  David Greenberg, aged 16, from Inscape House School, for ‘Scottish Pipers

’Highly commended:  Duncan McDougall, 16, The Abbey School for ‘An Ink Painting of a Pepper’

3D art Winner:  Patrick Pearce, 16, Sunnydown School, for ‘Coral Reefs’

Highly commended:  Priscilla Jones, 18, Ysgol Y Bont for ‘Branwen & The Mabinogi’

Digital   Winner:  Luke Tuckwell, 18, Broomhayes School for ‘Toy Cars’Highly commended: Lewis Davies, 16, Risca Community Comprehensive for ‘She’s Leaving Home’

Poetry   Winner:  Alexander Philip Nickisson, 15, Woodhey High School for ‘My Mind’Highly commended:  John Foley, 15, Broadfield Specialist School for ‘My Inner Sadness’

The People’s Choice Winner: Oliver Coatsworth, 11, Evergreen Primary School for ‘The Owls’

The finalists’ artwork will be rolled out into a national art tour across 4 UK cities: Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and London.

Darren Jackson, principal of Beechwood College, a specialist college for young people with an ASC that organised the competition, said that entries were almost double the number received in 2011: “We have been hugely impressed by the calibre of this year’s entries and we look forward to seeing the competition continue to grow year on year, giving young people with autism the creative spotlight they deserve.”Jane Asher added: “As we all know, one of the joys of art is that through it, people can express feelings and ideas that can never be put into words.“The winning works in this exciting and important competition are excellent in their own right in terms of their visual and technical achievement. They also underline once again just how much imagination, creativity and feeling exists in the hearts and minds of those with autism, however much this complex condition may limit the verbal and facial expression of such emotions.”

The artwork can be viewed at: http://www.beechwoodcollege.co.uk/finalists