A painting by 25 year-old Colm Isherwood from Cork has been chosen by the United Nations Postal Administration to be depicted one of a series of stamps to mark World Autism Awareness Day (2 April 2012).
The Cork man’s painting was one of just eight pieces selected following a worldwide search for talented artists with autism.

“It was an extremely difficult and challenging process to choose just eight designs from all the artwork submitted,” said Rorie Katz, the creative director at the United Nations Postal Administration said. All of us were personally touched by the stories of the artists and their families who are extremely passionate and supportive about raising awareness for autism.”

Colm and his twin brother Eric have severe autism which means they have few ways to communicate with the people around them. The 25-year-olds cannot talk, read or write but they understand others.

Since taking up painting about two years ago, art has given Colm a new outlet. Currently, Colm is working hard on producing more paintings for a planned exhibition which will hopefully coincide with the launch of the UN stamp collection in April. In 2010, Colm sold 10 out of 12 paintings he exhibited at a show in the Cork Institute of Technology. That was his first ever exhibition.

When the UN started to look for applications in September, the Isherwoods jumped at the chance to show off their son’s talent again and submitted a number of paintings.

“What is remarkable,” said Eric, “Is that his was the only one chosen from outside the United States and Canada.”

Colm has been working with his teacher Aine Crawley on his painting and she has been a huge influence on his life and work. Depending on his mood, their sessions can last anywhere between 15 minutes and three hours.

His work features a variety of materials, as well as a mix of techniques to create texture. The UN describes his paintings as sensory and tactile.

As for Colm’s brother Eric, music takes priority over art.

“He is too laid back for painting,” jokes Eric senior. “We try to get him motivated but he is more into music. He collects CDs from the local store and that’s his thing.”

The UN project was designed to showcase the artwork of people with autism to educate others of their passion, creativity and talent. The stamps will be available from 2 April (World Autism Day) and can be bought online from
(with thanks to

Above: Eric and Veronica Isherwood, Mahon, Co. Cork, with their two sons Eric Jnr (left) and Colm (right) (Provision).