George wins art prize despite sight handicap

Oxford Mail: George Nicholson with the note he designed to raise money for an electronic braille note-taker   Picture: OX51812 Denis Kennedy George Nicholson with the note he designed to raise money for an electronic braille note-taker Picture: OX51812 Denis Kennedy

WHEN little George Nicholson started to lose his sight, he became withdrawn and lost a lot of his confidence.

But through his love of art and music, the 12-year-old is now living life to the full and embracing his artistic talents.

And last week he was named a winner in the Young Art Oxford competition – despite the judges knowing nothing about his condition, which has left him with less than 10 degrees of central vision. Most people have 120 degrees.

The Barford St Michael schoolboy said: “I didn’t really think I’d win so when I was told, it was really exciting.

“I was about seven when they told me about my condition. I can’t see around me, I can only see right in front of me. But I’ve got used to it.”

George suffers with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition which degenerates over time.

Many of his pictures portray people in shadows, demonstrating the way in which he views the world.

He said: “I really like art, I like using pastels.

“And I draw a lot of comics. The character I created is called Time Kid and he goes back and forward in time, having adventures.”

The comic books, which include a trip back to the Titanic, have been copied around George’s school – Bruern Abbey in Chesterton, near Bicester.

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Earlier this year, he entered the county-wide Young Art Oxford competition.

More than 1,800 other children submitted their pieces of artwork.

Incredibly, judges chose George’s piece, which depicts his friend stood in front of a tree, as winner of the Years 4-6 category. They had no idea he was registered blind.

George, who is also learning to play the guitar, said: “I just love to draw. It’s my favourite thing.” His mum, Hetta, said: “I am extremely proud of George.

“If you’d met him a few years ago, he was withdrawn and he’d lost his confidence.

“But through his art and the support of Bruen Abbey, he is so much more confident. He is a very strong boy.”

George is now hoping to raise money for an electronic braille note-taker for his school, which will come in handy as his condition worsens.

He has designed a £30 note which can be sold for a £30 donation to the cause. A note-taker costs around £3,000.

Mrs Nicholson said: “He is already starting to learn braille. This would be very useful for the future.”

Any additional funds will go towards research in retinitis pigmentosa and helping other children with the condition.

Cheques should be made payable to Bruern Abbey School and sent to Bruern Abbey School, Chesterton, Oxfordshire, OX26 1UY.

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