07 Dec 2021

Kildare teenager wins first prize in “Draw Our Heroes” Art Competition

Kildare teenager wins first prize in “Draw Our Heroes” Art Competition

Della Cowper-Gray with her winning art work being presented her prize by Joe Duffy

A Kildare teenager has won first prize in a prestigious national art competition. 

The  “Draw Our Heroes” art competition, sponsored by Uniphar Group plc and Richard Mulcahy, have announced, and presented prizes to its winners, consisting of talented young artists from across the country. There were over 1,600 entries received for the competition.

First announced in April of last year, during the onset of the first lockdown, this innovative art competition centred on the theme ”everyone is a hero in their own right”. It asked budding artists from all around Ireland to immortalise the everyday heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic by submitting their original portraits to a national competition.

Based on the everyday hero in all our lives, entries included portraits of parents and family members working in the front lines or from home to keep everyone safe, grandparents, politicians and other public servants, and other important community members that included our frontline medical, emergency and security personnel as well as retail and other essential service providers. Overall, the competition aimed to recognise and celebrate the many different professions and people who are bravely working to bring Ireland safely through the pandemic.  The contest was open to anyone up to the age of 18 years. Entries were also submitted with a written piece outlining why the artwork highlights this hero and what makes them so special.  

RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy and ceramic artist Olga Fitzpatrick  sat on the panel of judges for this exciting competition and presented the awards to the winning entries. Celebrated artist Graham Knuttel also sat on the judging panel.

Della Cowper-Gray from County Kildare won first prize in the age 13-15 category. 

The winning entries will first be placed online for viewing, with a public exhibition planned later as a tribute to the heroic efforts of thousands of our citizens throughout the pandemic. A prize pool of €2,500 has been awarded to the top 3 entries across 4 age categories and a further €2,500 which will be paid to the heroes nominated by the winning artists.

The competition has attracted much attention from some of the public figures depicted by the young people. For example, Director General of The World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was painted by the 3rd prize winner in the 13-15 age category, Anna Louise Lumingkit, spoke with the young artist through zoom at the presentation of prizes.

Speaking about her work, winner of the 13-15 years age category and Kildare resident, Della Cowper-Gray, said, “I choose Aideen to be my hero as during Covid 19 lockdown she worked hard as a career for the elderly. She came to our house to care for my Grand Uncle Amby (who is 91). She put herself at risk but always remained cheerful and greeted us all with her uplifting smile before putting on her mask.”

Competition originator Richard Mulcahy has stated, “At the onset of the first lockdown, it was clear to me that while the pandemic brought great sadness and fear, it also brought us closer together as nation. We could see how resilient and inventive we all can be during challenging times and the pandemic also brought into sharp relief the amazing work our ordinary healthcare and frontline workers do every day. I wanted to do something to help honour all these amazing people. I was so impressed by the creativity of our young entrants. This past year and a half has been so challenging for young people and it was wonderful to  see them really use their artistic flair to connect with the message and bring it to life. Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to everyone who participated.”

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