Brushing up on the Nativity

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Maro Giannakopoulos from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Earlwood, with her award winning artwork titled “Behold, O Heaven and Earth. Your King is Here”, Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Maro Giannakopoulos from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Earlwood, with her award winning artwork titled “Behold, O Heaven and Earth. Your King is Here”, Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Searching for the meaning of what the Nativity means to her has resulted in Maro Giannakopoulos taking out a major religious art award.

The Year 6 student from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School at Earlwood has been awarded the prestigious Spirit of Christmas Award, one of the main categories of the Christmas Story Art Exhibition and Competition.

Now in its 14th year, the awards encourage students from the Archdiocese and Dioceses of Sydney, Wollongong and Bathurst is designed to celebrate and explore children’s creative and artistic ability in illustrating the Christmas story.

Open to Year 5 and 6 students, the awards were established to allow young people to express their faith through art.

For Maro, her artwork titled “Behold, O Heaven and Earth. Your King is Here”, expressed what the three wise men must have experienced when they witnessed the Birth of Jesus.

The talented young artist beat more than 15,000 entrants for the prestigious award.

“Painting the artwork was a real journey for me, I had to work out what the nativity meant personally to me and attempt to recreate how glorious this experience would have been for the people witnessing it at the time,” she said.

“I have always been intrigued by Byzantine iconography and the way it portrays events in such a humble and holy way.

“Most of all I wanted the audience to share the Magi’s view of Mary; a Holy Queen, yet a humble mother having a special love for her Son.

All 56 artworks are now on display at Notre Dame University until the Epiphany,  6 January, 2020. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
All 56 artworks are now on display at Notre Dame University until the Epiphany,  6 January, 2020. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“I believe this is how beautiful and holy the nativity scene was always meant to be experienced.

For the first time, the Archbishop’s Choice Trophy went to joint winners, Sean Bancroft from St Paul’s Catholic Primary School at Albion Park and Millie Banks from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School at Orange. It was also the first time Indigenous students had submitted Indigenous artworks reflecting their culture.

Other winners included Madelyn Urbina from St Patrick’s Primary School, Kogarah, who took out the Year 5 category, Ava De la Cruz from the Good Shepherd Primary School at Hoxton Park won the Year 6 award and Marianne Powzun from St John Bosco Primary School at Engadine claimed the Executive Directors Award.

Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking support teacher and judge of the competition, John Charadia, said

all entrants should be highly commended for the quality of the artwork and the teachers commended for supporting the students in bringing out their faith and spirituality through art.

“The whole exhibition showcased not only deep reflection but such a high level of skill using charcoal, pastels, acrylic paint, water colours and collage,” he said.

“ Over 15,000 students participated and selecting the winners was a very difficult task due to the high quality.

“The artworks are a true reflection of the ability of our teachers who stretch our students creativity to produce artworks as diverse as the next.”

All 56 artworks are now on display at Notre Dame University Chippendale campus on December 7 and 14, 10am-4pm. They can also be viewed in our gallery by clicking here.