Top of the mask! – Face covering competition winners announced

Winners, from left: Aubrey Sanchez, Belita Edi, Euan Lee, Evie Warwick, and Nikoleta Pioro.

FIVE Liverpool young people are set to see their artwork exhibited across the city – and you won’t need to go to a gallery to see it.

The quintet are all winners in a competition that will see some Scouse flair lent to the latest addition to most people’s wardrobes – face coverings. And now their handiwork is also being given to other young people in the city to help keep them safe.

The competition, led by Open Culture on behalf of Public Health Liverpool, and supported by partners in COoL (Creative Organisations of Liverpool), attracted 113 entries. Originally, four winners were to be chosen, two from each of two age categories, but an additional winner was chosen in the age 14-17 category.

The judging panel was: Kiara Mohammed, a Liverpool multidisciplinary Muslim trans, gender-fluid artist; TEE, a spoken word and rap artist; and representatives from Public Health Liverpool and social enterprise Open Culture. A group of young public health activists also gave feedback on the shortlist before the winners were selected. The activists have been working with Public Health Liverpool to give insight into their experience of the pandemic.

As well as having the designs made into limited-edition face coverings, the five winners have all also scooped £200 each (prizes funded by arts organisations).

The winners are:

Category ages 14-17

  • Aubrey Sanchez – from Anfield. Bellerive FCJ Catholic College.
  • Euan Lee – from Garston. Abbot’s Lea School.
  • Nikoleta Pioro – from Norris Green. Holly Lodge Girls’ College.

Category ages 18-25

  • Evie Warwick – from Wavertree. Liverpool John Moores University. 
  • Belita Edi – from Toxteth. City of Liverpool College.

Four thousand double-layered coverings have been produced by Cheshire-based English Fine Cottons and also have an anti-viral coating.

The face coverings will not only be distributed at the winners’ schools but will also be given out to young people via the council’s Children’s Services teams including looked-after children, the youth offending team and the city’s youth clubs.

Cllr Paul Brant, cabinet member for Public Health, said: “As expected the designs that were submitted to the competition were truly impressive and it was so hard to whittle down the entries that five instead of four winners were chosen.

“It’s great that young people took the competition to heart and saw it not only as a way of expressing their creativity but also understood that washable masks are a valuable way of reducing the waste that comes with using disposable masks.

“Wearing a face covering in public places is likely to be part of our lives for many months to come and it’s great that young people have embraced them and are setting this example for the older people in our community.”

Cllr Barbara Murry, cabinet member for education, employment and skills, said: “The thought that our winners have put into their designs underlines what I already know about our young people – they are engaged, creative and embrace the challenges and opportunities that come their way.

“Time and time again we’re shown the incredible emerging talent in Liverpool and these face coverings are a further example of our city making a positive out of a tough situation.

“I look forward to seeing these fantastic designs when I’m out and about!”

Aubrey Sanchez, of Bellerive FCJ Catholic College, said: “I entered the competition because, firstly, I thought it would be fun to give it a shot. But my main reason was because of my mum, as she is a nurse in the NHS and she inspired me to be creative.

“The inspiration for the design from the top of the mask came from the stained-glass window effect from the Metropolitan Cathedral. Then, as it is nearing Christmas, Christmas baubles are layered underneath. The last layer consists of colourful tassels and a chess board, as I love playing chess.”

Euan Lee, of Abbots Lea School, said: “All of our class were entering the competition during our lockdown curriculum and I didn’t think I would win at all. I picked my design based on Team Fortress 2, a game I play, and thought black and white would stand out! I draw for fun in my free time.”

Nikoleta Pioro, of Holly Lodge Girls’ College, said: “I was on cloud nine when I found out I won the competition because it was my first time ever taking part in such an event and I did not expect to win. I hope my mask design will encourage those who still object to mask wearing to follow the guidelines and wear a mask because, as my mum repeats, a drop of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My design is a Liverbird made up of multiple NHS initialisms. It shows that we are each other’s strength and cannot win the battle with Covid-19 without each other.”

Evie Warwick, Liverpool John Moores University, said: “I’m really excited to see my design on an actual object. To have my design on what now could be classed as an item of clothing is mind blowing for myself as a young designer and illustrator. Especially seeing other people in the street wear them too.”

Belita Edi, of City of Liverpool College, said: “The idea for my design actually came quite suddenly, without prior research. I just knew that I wanted words on the mask, something short, but meaningful, like a slogan. I was playing around with the words ‘power’, ‘peace’ and ‘unity’ when I came up with the phrase ‘Power IN unity’, which needs no explaining. I want people to be proud to wear this mask, to spread the message that is so significant during these difficult times.”