Meet Year 12 student Charlotte McCaughan, the 2021 Clancy Prize Executive Director’s Award winner.

Her Clancy Prize entry – a creative sculpture fashioned from termite-damaged Bunya Pine wood – features stars inspired from the Southern Cross Catholic College Burwood emblem emblazoned on her school uniform.

Titled Tableland of Faith and Time, it tells her story of redemptive healing following a life-altering head injury. 

“Charlotte healed the wood, like she’s healed herself; her story brought me to tears” – Clancy Prize coordinator, Ivanka Rancic

Charlotte McCaughan's Clancy Prize artwork, Tableland of Faith and Time

Charlotte’s artwork, Tableland of Faith and Time. Photo: Kitty Beale

“In 2018 I got knocked out and then diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (PCS),”  Charlotte said with reference to PCS, a condition typically associated with a head injury.

Most people with post-concussion syndrome are able to recover with rest and by minimising stress. In Charlotte’s case, she experienced severe anxiety and was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), she said.

“I lost a lot of my memory and had multiple nervous breakdowns,” Charlotte said.

“My injury made me question my faith in God and if it were not for the teachers and family members who supported my academic work and social life, I would not be sharing my experiences with the world around me.”

Charlotte McCaughan is pictured with Sydney Catholic Schools' Executive Director, Tony Farley

Charlotte is pictured with Sydney Catholic Schools’ Executive Director, Tony Farley. Photo: Kitty Beale

A self-confessed unlikely artist, Charlotte is currently studying construction at Southern Cross Catholic College Burwood and hopes to one day work in remote communities helping make furniture around which people can come together.

“This slab of wood is my journey so far,” Charlotte said. “The physicality of the wood demonstrates my skills and the symbolism of the cross and stars reflect those people and places that I have navigated in my faith journey.”

Her amazing sculpture was one of 68 individual and collaborative artworks entered into the Sydney Archdiocesan competition. Fourteen of those picked up prizes on Friday 21 May.

The artworks illustrate students’ understanding of this year’s exhibition theme: ‘Celebrating 200 Years of Catholic Education in Australia’.

“Southern Cross Catholic college has been a place where I can surpass expectations, break down barriers and perceptions and, most of all, by myself”  Charlotte McCaughan

Watch our exclusive interview with our Executive Director, Tony Farley, and Charlotte below:


The annual Clancy Prize Religious Art Prize and Exhibition is a celebration of our students’ creativity and spirituality, expressed through visual arts, inspired by Cardinal Edward Clancy.  This is the 22nd year of the competition.

Taking part is a very practical way for students to mark and celebrate the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia and, most importantly, it provides an opportunity for them to use their gifts and talents.

“To me it’s about how humanity and divinity meet, interlock and become one” – Clancy Prize coordinator, Ivanka Rancic