The winners of an art competition that sought to dispel the myth that young people with autistic spectrum conditions (ASCs) cannot be creative have been announced.
The Create! Art for Autism competition, which was open to all young people between the ages of 11 and 25 years with an ASC, received some 350 entries from 52 schools across the UK and from as far afield as India and Croatia.
The winner of the 2D category was Julien Soret, aged 15 from TreeHouse School in London. Dr Brendan Stuart Burns, a judge of the competition and twice winner of the National Eisteddfod Gold Medal in Fine Art and lecturer at The University of Glamorgan, said that Julien's painting, 'The Bear', was full of intense and rich brushwork, vibrant colour and reflected the painter's passion and individuality. Esther Whitney, aged 24 from Birmingham City University won the 3D category prize for her sculpture 'A Thimble Full'.
Esther's work was inspired by her own difficulties with social interaction, with the thimbles representing that a thimble full of relationships can be enough for young people with an ASC.
The award was presented by Lucinda Bredin, editor at BonhamsMagazine and member of the judging panel, who complimented Esther and the other finalists on the "detail, depth and complexity of their work." The digital category was won by Sam Fitzgerald, aged 18 from St Cenydd School in Caerphilly.
The judges described Sam's entry, 'Angel', as having a haunting and metaphysical quality.
The prize for the Teacher's Choice Award was presented by Darren Jackson, principal of specialist residential school Beechwood College to Alexander Fox-Robinson, aged 15 from Pembroke School, Pembroke for his pencil drawing 'The Blitz'.
Jackson said: "The large number of entries and the high quality of work has demonstrated how art and creativity programmes transform the lives of people with ASC who have previously struggled to express themselves."
Huw Morgan OBE, chief executive of Autism Cymru and one of the judging panel said: "More events like this are needed to challenge the prejudice and stigma and to celebrate young people with an ASC." The finalists' work is on display at The Old Library, Cardiff from Monday July 25 until Sunday August 7 and will then move to London early in the autumn.