Phoebe’s “Ghost Girl” takes out major prize

Phoebe’s “Ghost Girl” takes out major prize

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What started as a way to learn some social skills has led to a young Huntingdale artist receiving a major national award.

Ten-year-old Phoebe Webber, who lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder, had initially enrolled in an after-school art program as a way to express herself and interact with people of different ages and genders.

Phoebe said she enjoyed art because it helped her express her feelings in a creative way.

“I have just always loved art, it helps me calm down and lets me relax,” she said.

“My Mum encourages me; she loves my creations and puts them up at her work.

“I can create characters of future cartoons in my head like moving imagination pictures.”

During the last two years at the NDIS-funded Creative Soul Session, Phoebe’s art has developed significantly and recently won the 2023 National Junior Australian Art Award at the Young Australian Art and Writers’ Awards for her digital piece “Kreea, The Ghost Girl”.

When she was told about the award, Phoebe described the moment “like my heart was stepping on a Lego brick”.

“I felt very excited, but kind of nervous,” she said.

“At first, I was told there was a surprise for me when I got home, but I had to wait for my Mum.

“So when she got home, she told me the news that I had won. We were jumping all over the place!

“We were very happy, I even got to stand up at an assembly and tell everyone in my school.”

As part of the prize, Phoebe was flown to Melbourne with her mum Jasmine on an all-expenses paid trip to receive the award. The award has further encouraged Phoebe to pursue a career in art.

“I would love to make cartoons on TV,” she said.

“That would be a pretty cool thing to do – I even thought about what the show would be called, ‘Phoebe the Aussie Warrior’ and I would be the main star.”

She is urging other young people living with a disability to have a go in the arts.

“Well, because I have autism it makes me able to think in my head all these unique character creations.

“I just love making art in all ways – paper, iPad, paint or crafts. I want to inspire others to make their own funny characters, just like I have.”

Mission Australia NDIS local area coordinator Deborah Harding has worked with Phoebe for the last three years.

“I was able to support the family with navigating the NDIS which included building a plan, linking them to services and providing referrals,” she said.

“It is through this referral process that Phoebe was encouraged by myself and her Mum to try social art opportunity.

“The program provides a meaningful, creative, social and sensory outlet for Phoebe.

“The rest, as they say, is history and she is now a National Art Award recipient.

“It has been so pleasing to see Phoebe attain such a prestigious award and overcome some personal challenges by travelling to Melbourne, a new and unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people, to receive the award.”