Schoolgirl wins charity art contest

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A pupil at St Aidan’s CE High School in Harrogate has won first prize for her age category in an art competition run by the youth homelessness charity, SASH.

The charity, which provides accommodation in the homes of volunteers to young people facing homelessness, organised the contest to raise awareness of its work in York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire.

The brief was to take a cardboard box and turn it into a piece of art, to emphasise the point that ‘cardboard boxes are not for sleeping in’.

Over 60 entries from artists of all ages had the support of the York Castle Museum, York St John University Faculty of Arts, celebrity interior designer Linda Barker and Dr Sam Lackey, formerly Curator of the Wakefield Hepworth museum.

The winners were announced at the launch of the art exhibition at the York Castle Museum last Monday where 12-year-old Lilian Housley was awarded her prize, a £10 shopping voucher plus free entry to the Museum for her friends and family.

Lilian heard about the competition through her school and submitted her work.

With it she put this description: “My box symbolises the dream of a homeless person, an older man that loves nature.”

She added: “Before he became homeless he used to work in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Within my box are several objects that he values and dreams of. “The hair and buttons symbolise his daughter’s christening … The key was for his old potting shed and the seeds remind him of his old job. He used to own bees and would make honey of which he was very fond of doing and misses it.”

Her entry proved to be the judges’ favourite for the under 16 category, with Linda Barker describing Lilian’s work as: “Very thought provoking and beautifully executed. I particularly love the story telling narrative of the piece.

“Clearly Lilian is a highly talented artist who deservedly gets my top marks in a close run category.”

The exhibition and art trail of the entries, starting at the Castle museum and continuing in different venues in York is available until June 5. Lilian’s piece is on display in the window of the Barnitt’s store on Colliergate, which specially requested the after seeing a photograph.

Tina Firthlock, Community Fundraiser at SASH said: “We were overwhelmed by the quality of the entries and the imagination and creativity that went into them.

“There were so many different interpretations and the standards were so high, choosing the winners was a difficult task. We are delighted that so many people took part because each piece helps us to highlight the plight of young homeless people and how SASH helps.”

Last year, SASH provided almost 300 nights of emergency, safe accommodation to young people in Harrogate who had nowhere to go, all thanks to local volunteers who offer a spare room.

The charity is looking for more volunteers in Harrogate to help them with their work supporting vulnerable young people and is urging anyone who is interested in finding out more to get in touch. There is more information on the art exhibition and how to volunteer at www.sash-uk.org.uk.