AMCS Art Challenge Winners

1st place — $1000: Gerardo Chierchia

In Italy, I gained a diploma in Ceramic and a degree in Academy of Fine Arts.

After many years in theatre as a set designer, I have had experience as an interior decorator, mural painter, decorator and painter of stage sets around the world. In 1993, I moved to Australia where I graduated from Chase College of Graphic Design. I’ve worked for the Australian Opera as a set painter and props maker. Currently, I am a film director, editor and photographer.

Recently, I use a unique painting technique called 3D goldfish art: http://www.goldfishinspiration.com/

The picture is of my friend Carlo, who sadly passed away a few months ago. I’m a volunteer visitor for AMCS and visit seniors at risk of social isolation. I met Carlo from a friend of a friend who asked if I could support Carlo too. I took him shopping and to appointments, and we were filming a movie about volunteer visiting when lockdown happened.

RIP. Vale Carlo.


2nd place — $500: Maria Janczak

I came up with this idea when my then 89-year-old mother played on the trampoline with her then six-year-old granddaughter. 

We live longer but there are always young ideas in us. Some of us are brave to express them.


3rd place honourary mention — $200 recognition voucher

Jack Forbes-Walker

I am a proud Biripi man, born and raised in Awabakal land (Newcastle, NSW).

Gathering my inspiration from stories passed down from family, I have always loved creativity.

Indigenous people respect our elders. The large circles in the painting depict an elder sharing their knowledge with children. Between the children, the orange lines represent knowledge shared and learnt.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Archie Buyser

I am an international student, studying a Diploma in Mental Health. I have loved doing arts since I was young. I find myself more engaging with other people through it.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Bronwyn Calcutt

I am doing a Master of Fine Arts at RMIT. With a great affinity with the elderly, I volunteer at BlueCross Hilltop Aged Care in Preston, facilitating energetic and joyful singing sessions weekly. I am the choir leader of Melbourne choirs, Shaking the Tree and Expressive Women.

Music wakes up the heart and spirit of the elderly and reconnects them to their cultural roots. We sing in several languages, and some residents do spontaneous performances of beloved songs from their country. Painting and music connect me to my treasured elderly community, and to the community.

I met Umiyye, 77, my painting’s subject, when photographing the Collingwood high-rise, scouting for project ideas and imagery. She was sitting on a bench outside the entrance and welcomed me to join her.

Umiyye had lived in the high-rise for 34 years. Born in Turkey, she migrated to Australia in the 70s to escape poverty. People welcomed her family as migrants and helped them find work and housing.

Umiyye has six children, 23 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren, most living in Melbourne and wrapped in her life. Her husband and one child sadly passed away, but she lives with her single son.

Umiyye invited me to her home and served Turkish coffee and Turkish delights. She showed photos of her family and the outings to Mecca with her sisters. Children love her. In the afternoon, she leaves her front door open to hear the kids return from school. She knits beautiful wool vests for herself and the babies in the building.

I wanted to capture her face of love and kindness in my painting.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Carmen Spiteri

I was going to paint something crazy, like an older person parachuting out of a plane. Tossing up ideas in my head, I came up with the theme to take the leap into life, no matter what age. I was browsing the internet and saw dolphins. I like dolphins and would love to swim with them one day.

With ageing, there is still enjoyment out there. Usually, grandchildren keep us alive. Live and love life.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Gabriela Blaszczyk

I am 10 years old and born in Poland. My mum is an artist and I get my skills from her. I won second place in drawing competitions. The first one was from the library. We drew a picture from a book from our imagination and the other one was a native Australian and endangered animal. My piece shows my grandma and me talking and keeping in touch during lockdown.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Gosia Blaszczyk

I was born in Poland and am a graphic designer and artist. Interested in art from a young age, I have won many competitions.

My graphic, Scale new peaks at any age, shows you can score big and small goals no matter your age.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Hilkat Özgün

I’m a scientist, speaker, entrepreneur, community worker and mentor. In 1988, I moved to Australia from Turkey. I am the chair of the Australian Turkish Cultural Platform and enjoy inspiring young people to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). I love photography and my photos have exhibited twice at CSIRO Photography Exhibitions. Photography lets you look at the world from an entirely different perspective and captures many beautiful moments.

The photo is of Akten, 90, and my daughter, Belinda, at The Alfred Hospital, after Akten’s third hip replacement operation in July 2020. Belinda and my son visit Akten regularly. Akten was a former architect for Melbourne Council and has no family in Australia. We became family after meeting at St Kilda Festival. Belinda and I were serving Turkish food. Akten came over and joined our Turkish group.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: John Oh

I’m a volunteer at AMCS and entitled my ink and watercolour piece, My Friend Maria. On A3 paper, the art depicts the relationship between a young Asian boy and an older Italian woman. The woman tells him her story, from her time in olive groves of southern Italy to her current life in Australia. It’s loosely based on my friendship with my neighbour, Marija. She was Macedonian, lived on the street for 50 years and sadly passed a few years ago. I chatted every time I saw her, and we appreciated each other’s company.

Marija led an interesting life with many highs and lows. I was eager to learn about her and get a first-hand idea of the post-war European immigrant experience.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Naomi Spry
As a Wiradjuri woman and mother to identical twin sons on the level 3 non-verbal autism spectrum, I am all about inclusiveness.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, deserves acceptance and respect.

I enjoy talking to the elderly and listening to their life stories — where they grew up, what they liked and what they did. They intrigue me.

They still carry their values and pass on wisdom, which is a gift.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Quan Phung
I am an Australian-Vietnamese wildlife artist. Despite my physical disability (paraplegia) from an illness and living in a nursing home, I wish my art designs to bring joy and happiness to the people in this world, particularly elders and children. The image is an elderly person visiting the zoo with children to see meerkats.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Sophie L’Huillier

I completed Year 12 in 2020, studying VCE art. Currently, I attend Monash University for a double degree in Art and Fine Arts. Mum inspired to create this piece. She works in an aged care facility and tells stories about the fascinating residents’ lives. My painting celebrates fun among the elderly.


Finalist — $50 Coles voucher: Sonia Di Mezza

I’m the CEO of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, in Bendigo, Victoria. As a human rights lawyer, I’ve worked for four years in Sudan, setting up and managing legal aid projects in the Khartoum camps, from 2004–2008.

In 2007, I took this photo of an elderly woman in a camp in Sudan. The internally displaced persons within the camp had fled Sudan’s Civil War, lasting over twenty years. People suffered hardship and poverty or died in the ongoing war between North and South Sudan.

Despite this situation, the photo shows courage and hope. The woman’s face looks like she has seen and experienced much in her life. She still smiles, evidence of her strength and determination.

Wisdom, resilience and hope always prevails, no matter how tough life gets. It is relevant to our multicultural groups. Many Sudanese communities choose to call Australia home.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Sri Lankan Senior Association in the City of Casey.

A group of friends love to celebrate life and defy lifelong expectations. Between age 60 to 78, most are mothers and grandmothers.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Sue Jackson

In January 2021, I took this photo for the Brunswick Neighbourhood House at their Cultural Harmony Fiesta. Later, it was part of the 11th Annual Women Photographers’ Exhibition for International Women’s Day at Magnet Galleries Melbourne.

The senior woman’s love of dance was infectious.


Finalist — Recognition voucher: Yongxin Yuan

I love travelling and meeting people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I participated in this challenge to raise awareness of our multicultural community. My grandfather is a migrant from a non-English speaking background.

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