Manor Lakes teenager John Mathet is all smiles after winning the People’s Choice Award at the Wyndham Art Prize.

John, 18, said he entered the Wyndham council art competition for the first time this year with a digital painting he created on a tablet, which portrays a little girl standing alone.

John was presented with the competition’s People’s Choice Award, as voted by visitors to the exhibition, last month.

The award was sponsored by not-for-profit community organisation Arts Assist.

John said while creating his award-winning artwork, he reflected on his own experience growing up in Kenya and South Sudan, during which he experienced conflicts, war, poverty and an interrupted education.

“Overcoming all of that, and coming to a place like Wyndham, is a blessing,” he said.

John said he was grateful for the support of his family, friends and Manor Lakes College, where he is completing year 11.

John said winning the People’s Choice Award was “surreal”, as he had entered the competition simply to learn from older artists and gain some exposure for his work.

“The moment they told me, it was unbelievable. I was just blown away,” he said.

John described the process of creating art as feeling like “being on top of the world”.

“I just feel free, put anything onto the canvas and tell stories with my art,” he said.