July 21, 2022 3.00 pm This story is over 16 months old

Lincoln boy lives dream post-cleft as art makes it to Royal Academy of Arts

Stanley’s transition to homeschooling has opened artistic doors

An 8-year-old boy from Lincoln who was born with a cleft in his lip has been given a spot at a young artists exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts this summer.

Stanley Kettleborough, from Lincoln, was born with a cleft, which is a gap or split in the upper lip or roof of your mouth. He had an operation to fix this at just four months old, and has championed a charity for the cause ever since.

The Lincolnite first covered Stanley’s story in 2020, when at just five years old he posted a video calling for donations to the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA), which struggled with fundraising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanley shot the video next to a picture of himself as a baby.

Stanley’s video appeal raised more than £1,500 for the charity, allowing for children just like him to be given the support and treatment for cleft palate issues.

Since then, he transitioned to home education following a difficult year at a local independent school. It was during home lessons where he discovered a true passion – art.

After receiving support from Lincolnshire artists who saw and praised his work, Stanley submitted a piece to the Royal Academy of Arts for its Young Artists’ Summer Show in London.

Stanley’s creation, Tom and Ted, is inspired by the ceramics work of artist Adam Bart, who creates handmade clay pieces of creatures with unique characteristics and poses.

A proud moment for Stanley and his family. | Photo: Danielle Kettleborough

Stanley describes the art as follows: “Tom and Ted are best friends. I made them in my home education art lesson, with Jane Elizabeth. Tom is a made up creature, and Ted is a kind of fox creature.

“I like the feel of them both because they are very different textures. Tom is bumpy and made out of sandy clay, but Ted is made from a different type of clay, and is so smooth.”

His ambition and love for art is now starting to reap rewards, as Stanley’s art made it through a judging panel to be one of just 280 pieces selected for the display at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Tom and Ted are best friends, spawned from the wonderful imagination of Stanley. | Photo: Danielle Kettleborough

To put that into perspective, over 21,500 artworks were submitted for the exhibition this year, and Stanley made it through!

The ceramic sculpture is 85mm wide and 95mm high, using different clay types for each creature and depicting a message of care and friendship – particularly with the large love heart on Tom’s chest and his arm being round Ted.

His mother Danielle told The Lincolnite that Stanley’s success is a glowing reference to the benefits of homeschooling.

“What a way to celebrate Stanley’s first year of home education”, she said. “It wasn’t an easy decision to leave school, but this just sums it all up.

“Home education has allowed Stanley to follow his interests and more importantly have autonomy over who he is and how he learns.

“He has been supported by so many wonderful Lincolnshire artists, and we are so proud of everything he has achieved this year.”

Stanley standing proud at the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition which his Tom and Ted piece is a part of. | Photo: Danielle Kettleborough

You can vote for Stanley’s work to win the People’s Choice Award 2022 at the Young Artists’ Summer Show on the Royal Academy of Arts website by clicking here.

You can also check out Stanley’s art and progress on his Instagram page.