Phoebe Mitchell, <em>Peaches Geldoff</em>

An exhibition of work from students studying fine art at Central Saint Martins College opens today in London. Student accommodation company Unite is hosting the exhibition on inspirational Londoners in their new development, Blithehale Court in Bethnal Green.

Over 100 students submitted proposals on their inspirational Londoners to the judging panel made up of Nathan Goddard, sales and marketing director at Unite, and Jane Lee and Andrew Watson, fine art course directors at Central Saint Martins.

The five winning artists are in the second year of their studies. They chose subjects ranging from pop culture celebrities to unsung heroes. One of the winners, Phoebe Mitchell, painted two oil portraits of Pixie and Peaches Geldof. Explaining her choice, Phoebe said that the Geldof sisters are “the epitome of cool, trashy, teenage hedonism” who “inspire us to enjoy ourselves and to take advantage of our youth”.

Portrait painter, Ewan MacFarlane, chose architect Norman Foster. Rather than just painting a building, Ewan thought it would be “more interesting to paint its architect Lord Foster” while making “reference to the fantastic structural planning that made the building possible”.

The other winners based their works on more obscure inspirational figures. Rose Stuart Smith’s abstract work acknowledged the woman responsible for mapping the iconic London A-Z, Phyllis Pearsall. Charles Drinkwater’s entry is in tribute to Clara Grant, known as ‘The Bundle Woman of Bow.’ Grant was well known in the early 20th century for giving toys to the impoverished children of east London.

While Sue Kemp photographs ordinary Londoners who have achieved extraordinary things: “The people I think inspire students are individuals they can relate to - ordinary people who through creativity, self-belief and hard work have achieved amazing things.”

The winners will each receive £500 presented by John Grogan, MP and vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary University Group.