Nine East Lancashire students have reached the finals of a national competition offering young artists the chance to have their work displayed in a central London exhibition.

The Aldridge Junior Signature Art Prize is run in partnership with the Aldridge Foundation charity and Artellite, one of the first online graduate art galleries.

Students at Aldridge schools across the country entered their work in a range of categories to be judged by a panel of experts - including former Darwen Aldridge Community Academy student Khushna Sulaman-Butt, who was the first DACA student to secure a place at Oxford University, where she read fine art, and has had her work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

This year the competition attracted 88 entries from across the country, with Darwen students Tia Britcliffe, Hannah-Ivy Williams, Lauren Terry, Hannah Birch and Mai Yu from Darwen Aldridge Community Academy and Tom Jackson, Rachel Davey, Dwaine Pitt and Aedan Clarke from Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio all reaching the finals in their respective categories.

Hannah-Ivy Williams is a finalist in the textiles category for her framed embroidery pieces Haven of Memories.

She said: “As I get older, I am realising more and more about what is important to me and whilst studying I began to work as a carer in a residential home for the elderly.

"It made me realise how important memories can be and how we hang on to them as we get older.

"My signature piece represents some of my happy memories with family – my haven.”

Students at DACA have reached the finals of a national competition

Students at DACA have reached the finals of a national competition

Mai Yu said of her acrylic on canvas fine art entry Beyond the Stars: “I wanted to capture the innocence of youth displayed by the two children (me and my childhood friend) sat on the moon.

"The piece represents the significance of holding onto your dreams and aiming high, which is important to me.

"The children in the painting have their whole life ahead of them and big dreams to fulfil.

"As I am one of the children, it reminds me that I must hold on to my dreams and put the effort in to making them a reality.”

The finalists will be attending a virtual exhibition next month where the winner of each category will be announced.

From the four category winners, an overall winner will be selected and offered an internship with Artellite.

Artellite’s Signature Art Prize is the only award of its kind that aims to promote the work of artists in the emerging stages of their careers.

The Aldridge Junior Signature Art Prize was created to run alongside the main competition, with students able to submit entries in categories for fine art, graphics, textiles, film and photography.

All finalists will be invited to attend a celebration event at the Bankside Hotel, London, in September where their artwork will be displayed alongside the main Signature Prize entries.

You can view all of the finalist entries, and choose your personal favourite, at