LivingEdge School Arts Competition 2017

Atia Raja, winner of the under 18 category with Geoffrey Key

Atia Raja, winner of the under 18 category with Geoffrey Key - Credit: Archant

The 17th Living Edge Schools Art Competition saw an extraordinary and varied array of entries, the sheer talent of every entrant making the judges’ task quite a challenge.

he annual Schools Art Competition attracts entries from talented young artists from across the region and this year, as in previous years, the job of judging who should be named winner in each section was incredibly tough.

In 2017 the sheer variety of submissions, from ceramic to mixed media to pencil drawings to paint made the judges’ task even more challenging, leading us to marvel at the breadth and depth of skill already present in the contestants at such a young age.

The judges – Geoffrey Key, one of the UK’s most collected living artists; Hilary Dean and Anna Halliwell from sponsors Jones Homes; Trevor & Susan Walker, of art suppliers Fred Aldous and kind suppliers of prizes for the winners and each entrant; our Chair, Martin Heaps, owner of Collect Art in Lymm; and I - prowled amongst the entries, debating the merits of each and exclaiming at the quality of the selection.

In the 14 and Under category we were hugely impressed by the talent of our winner Max Cooper, from Cheadle Hulme School, whose painting ‘Boy with the Pearl Headphones’, was inspired by the famous Vermeer oil. The judges all agreed that this young man is one to watch. Max won the same category last year aged just ten – leaving us to wonder what he might bring forward in the future! The judges were also impressed by our two Highly Commended artists in this age group, Jed Bailey, from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, who showed superb draughtsmanship in his pencil drawing of Manchester buildings, and Jack Bridgford.

In the 16 and Under category we were blown away by our winner Alice Hackney, from Withington School for Girls. Her portrait was deemed to be truly superb and we can’t wait to see how this young artist develops. Highly Commended in this category were Beth Lomas, of Cheadle Hulme School, whose painting of a full English breakfast delighted the judges, and Luke Merrill, from The Manchester Grammar School, whose pencil portrait demonstrated superb observation and drawing skills.

Finally, the Under 18 category was the perfect summary of where we can expect our younger entrants to go; assured, sophisticated work encompassing a variety of media that challenged and absorbed in equal measure.

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In this category the quality of the entrants was so universally high that not one entry received a vote from every judge, with opinion divided across multiple entries. The winner, Atia Raja from Manchester High School for Girls, gave us a very assured portrait of a young girl, while our two Highly Commended entrants, Ciara Darcy from St. Bede’s College and Megan Jones from Cheadle Hulme School both demonstrated considerable drawing talent.

It may be that some of these talented young people pursue a future in art and for others that it may remain no more than a hobby; whichever path they choose, we both envy their skill and wish them luck for their future.

Our winners

14 & Under


Max Cooper, Cheadle Hulme School

Highly Commended:

Jed Bailey, Altrincham Grammar School for Boys

Jack Bridgeford, The Manchester Grammar School

16 & Under


Alice Hackney, Withington Girls School

Highly Commended

Beth Lomas, Cheadle Hulme School

Luke Merrill, The Manchester Grammar School

18 & Under


Atia Raja, Manchester High School for Girls

Highly Commended

Megan Jones, Cheadle Hulme School

Ciara Darcy, St. Bede’s College