The winners of an art competition, launched by Birmingham Museums Trust online during lockdown, have been revealed, with the winning artists sharing the positive impact taking part had on their well-being during this turbulent time.

The fifth annual Inspire art competition encouraged people across the West Midlands to create art focused around the theme of What I Can See. The idea was to inspire people of all ages to think differently about their surroundings and explore their imaginations when spending more time indoors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Winners were chosen by Louise Alden, Learning and Engagement Manager, Janine Eason, Director of Engagement, Sharan Dhanda, a producer at Beatfreeks, and two Birmingham Museums Trust volunteers, Janette and Erin.

Louise Alden, Learning and Engagement Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We always love running the Inspire art competition, but this year it became more important ever to encourage people of all ages to take some time to slow down and be creative while we were living through this strange time.

“You can see there is so much creative talent across the West Midlands from the entries we received but what’s shined through from speaking to the winners is how taking time to be creative really helped them through the difficult times in lockdown and gave them a way to express their thoughts and feelings. We love seeing all the entries and hope in the future we can display them at the museum for the public to enjoy in person.” 

The Greenway sisters, Helen, Cathryn and Sandra, were chosen as the group category winner for their textile face coverings called the Solidarity in Separation series. They said: “The three of us have been exploring textile art together over the last few years through workshops, courses and exhibitions. It was lovely to have a shared project at this time; to feel that although we couldn’t meet, we could still do something together creatively in a time of such uncertainty. We entitled the project Solidarity in Separation and it definitely gave us a shared focus and common goal during lockdown.”

Highly commended in this category was the Kumari brothers, Paaras, Dhiren and Saavar – aged 10 and 9, with a 3D sculpture entitled Our Safe House.

Three year-old Bethany from Sutton Coldfield was chosen as the winner of the 0-4 category for Garden Picture – a collage using foliage from the garden to create a bright Spring scene. Birds and Insects, by four-year-old Oluaferanmi from Long Lawford, was awarded in highly commended in the same category.

An intricate line drawing of the University of Birmingham, by Lenny aged eight from Birmingham, was the winning entry in the 0-5 category. Lenny said: "I'm really grateful to the judges for recognising how hard I worked on the drawing. I promise to keep drawing every day and hope to meet you in the future."

A photo entitled Mask Rubbish by Nadia, aged six, was awarded highly commended in this category for capturing an increasingly familiar sight of masks littering the payment.

Adam, aged 14 from Cotteridge, has been chosen as the winner of the 10-14 category with his digital collage entitled Goodbye World. Tibet, aged 11, was recognised with highly commended for Past & Future.

The 15-19 category saw everything from portraits to poems and the winner, Mia aged 18 from Stourbridge, was chosen for her abstract painting called Inconvenience Store. Highly commended in this category was a  sentimental drawing entitled Timeless Hug by 18 year old Jasraj.

Liz and Darren were crowned winners of the over 20s category for a poem recital and animation called Shrewsbury Friday 27th March 2020. Dr. Mavish, aged 23, was also awarded highly commended for a piece called Dr.Who?

The artist’s choice winner was picked by artist and Birmingham Museums Trustee Mohammed Ali and the chosen artwork is Zoom! by Bob aged 70 from Solihull. The Director’s choice, picked by Janine Eason is a poem by five-year-old Elliot from Sutton Coldfield called What I Can See which describes the conflicting feelings of lockdown.

All entries can be seen in an online gallery and it is hoped the winning works will eventually be displayed at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. All winners received the prize of art vouchers.




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