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Winner's Announced for the Museum of Fire 2023 Art Competition

A major role of our emergency services is the rescuing of those in need, whether that be in a one-off incident or in a major disaster, the ability of firefighters, with the aid and sometimes guidance of other agencies to undertake rescue procedures is an essential part of what they do.


For the theme of our 2023 art competition, we wanted to pay tribute to this role firefighters undertake, emphasising the latter half of our state’s fire service name “Fire AND Rescue NSW”.


Museum of Fire 2023 Art Competition Ceremony

Statistically speaking, these days, you’d be more likely to see firefighters attending a motor vehicle accident where trapped persons require rescue than a house fire. In the recent reporting year 2022-23 FRNSW attended 14,476 rescues (including vehicle crashes, flood rescues, confined space rescue, animal rescues, etc…) compared to 5,281 structure fires.


When the theme of rescue was selected at the end of 2022, the state was gripped by the NSW flood emergency in the Riverina region. The theme of our 2022 competition was floods following the crisis of previous years, so it seemed prudent to continue to focus the energy of the children’s artwork on a theme that was remaining in the headlines. In this case we chose to ask the children to look at the situation through the lens of rescue and in doing so we also pay homage to the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) who also protect and serve the community, especially in the instance of rescue.


Our art competition now enters its fourth year, and it has become a staple of the Museum’s yearly exhibition cycle. This year we received over 100 entries, with many entries coming from interstate. This has seen an exceptionally high calibre of entries this year which has made the decision of selecting just 37 for our shortlist very difficult and the task of our awards judging panel even harder.


I am so proud of how this competition has developed and I look forward to seeing how it grows into the future. The year 2024 marks 140 years since the establishment of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (today FRNSW) so our theme will no doubt focus squarely on how diverse firefighting in NSW has developed to meet the ever-changing needs of the local community firefighters serve.


It is amazing to see these very serious issues through the eyes of the next generation and if their artwork is anything to go by, we have a positive and colourful future ahead of us as our children grow and develop into young adults within society.


The First Place Grand Prize Winner was presented at the conclusion of the ceremony by Councillor Todd Carney, Mayor of Penrith with the winner receiving a $200 Museum voucher, an Officeworks art prize, perpetual trophy, and having their artwork become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.


The winner was Sarella Symonds (Year 6) with her work “A Rescued Friend”. In her own words “My painting shows a kind fireman in his big yellow suit rescuing a koala away from the raging fire. The koala trusts the fireman as they move to safety. My painting is an example of the love and care that our heroes show, even to our furry friends in time of danger.” This was Sarella’s first time entering into our Art Competition, so we are thrilled to be able to display her artwork in our main exhibition space and add it to our permanent collection.


Sarella Symonds being presented her 1st Place Grand Prize alongside Councillor Todd Carney, Mayor of Penrith

FRNSW were also represented at the event by Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell. Jeremy Fewtrell presented the FRNSW Commissioner’s Choice Award to the winner Layton Kear (Year 3) for his work “Fire Flame” where he received a FRNSW giftpack from the Museum. Layton's artwork will be displayed in the emergency services academy at Orchard Hills and will also be added to the Museum’s permanent collection. He describes his artwork: “Firemen walk into the fire to save thousands of lives each year. They’re brave and risk their lives to rescue others.”


In addition, we had Federal Member for Macquarie and Special Envoy to the Arts Susan Templeman assist in the presentation, handing out certificates to all shortlisted artists who were present.


Winner's List:

First Place

Name: Sarella Symonds (Year 6)

Work: A Rescued Friend

My painting shows a kind fireman in his big yellow suit rescuing a koala away from the raging fire. The koala trusts the fireman as they move to safety. My painting is an example of the love and care that our heroes show, even to our furry friends in time of danger.


Second Place

Name: Chelsea Chik (Year 5)

Work: Fire Captain and the Lost Home

I watch the news of bushfires in New South Wales and homes were lost in flame. It is very sad to see people losing their homes but I want to honour fire crews and fire captains who have been fighting in the bushfires to saves lives and keep us safe.


Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner's Choice Award

Name: Layton Kear (Year 3)

Work: Fire Flame

Firemen walk into the fire to save thousands of lives each year. They’re brave and risk their lives to rescue others.


People's Choice Award

Name: Ava-Mae Mauceri (Year 6)

Work: A Hard Day at Work

My uncle is a volunteer at the Eastern Creek Fire and Rescue centre. They have a mascot and he’s a rhino named Blocker. He assists the firefighters and the community when in need. No matter how hard the job is, no one is left behind. They can even rescue both animals and people in any natural disaster. Thanks Blocker and Fire & Rescue team for keeping the community safe!


CEO Award

Name: Nathan Madden (Year 4)

Work: Rescue from Above

When the bushfires are so massive that firefighters on the ground can’t stop it, water bombing helicopters provide the support to help fight the fire.


Name: Ava Maisie Brown (Year 2)

Work: Animal Rescue!

Using the theme of ‘rescue’ in the case of natural disasters like bushfires - Ava wanted to show how it would look if roles were flipped... i.e. the animals of Australia rescued people in need! She chose and drew all Australian animals including a kangaroo, red-faced crab, echidna, and crocodiles.


Curator Award

Name: Cordelia Su (Year 2)

Work: The Rescuers

Due to climate change Australia has experienced many natural disasters like bushfires and floods. Thank you to our rescuers and their efforts of keeping our communities safe by rescuing us from these difficult times.


Name: Yi-Hsuan Tsai (Year 5)

Work: Hope in the Dark

The picture depicts a firefighter’s image. He is the hero who rescues people from the danger and brings hope for them to face the difficulties.


Age Group Highly Commended

Year 6

Name: Olivia Wong

Work: Safe Again

Two different NSW rescue members look out at the wreckage and destruction of two of Australia’s major disasters. Flood and Fire. They hold two scared, rescued animals, a koala in the fire and a dog in the flood. I drew this artwork to represent the rescue efforts of NSW flood and fire rescue services, especially as some of my family friends have fallen victim to these disasters and were saved and helped by these services.


Year 5

Name: Yi-Hsuan Tsai (Year 5)

Work: Hope in the Dark

The picture depicts a firefighter’s image. He is the hero who rescues people from the danger and brings hope for them to face the difficulties.


Year 4

Name: Amoghbir Singh Bhatti

Work: Super Savers

I drew this picture to showcase how the SES and Fire NSW helped us overcome tough challenges in 2022. We are grateful for SES and the Fire NSW’s hard work and help.


Year 3

Name: Layton Kear (Year 3)

Work: Fire Flame

Firemen walk into the fire to save thousands of lives each year. They’re brave and risk their lives to rescue others.


Year 2

Name: Cordelia Su (Year 2)

Work: The Rescuers

Due to climate change Australia has experienced many natural disasters like bushfires and floods. Thank you to our rescuers and their efforts of keeping our communities safe by rescuing us from these difficult times.


K-1

Name: Tully Scott (Kindergarten)

Work: Stepping out of Fire

Hi, I’m Tully I’m five. I used paint on canvas and see those guys in the background, they’re actually paper and I painted the outside so you can’t even see it. I called my artwork Stepping out of Fire because it’s a family of koalas climbing down from their tree because of the fire. In the background the firemen are watering the other koalas’ trees and if you look closely you can see them stepping out of fire.


Thank you for joining us and I hope to see you back for the 2024 exhibition! We look forward to seeing the artworks the children will produce for the art competition next year, so get your creative juices flowing and start preparing!


To get a closer look at the winning artworks and the rest of the shortlisted entries from 2023 click here.



Take a scroll through all of the award winners from the ceremony.

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