Artist’s brutal honesty nets him top prize

A TEENAGER yesterday took the top prize in this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition for his brutally honest composition of five self-portraits.

Mantas Poderys, a former pupil at St Eunan’s College and Letterkenny Vocational School, won the top prize of €2,000 in the 16-18-year-old category

The head of the judging panel, Professor Declan McGonagle, said the 18-year-old could justifiably be regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost young artists.

“He has the skill, imagination and talent required to become a leading name in the world of Irish Art,” Prof McGonagle declared when the top award winners were announced in Dublin Castle.

Mantas is currently attending the North West Regional College in Derry where he is studying for a foundation diploma in art and design.

He also studies at the Create-A-Link Art Studio in Letterkenny and later this year hopes to start studying for a degree in fine arts.

He has been a regular participant in the competition that attracted 34,000 entries this year and was a major prizewinner in each of the last four years.

Winning the top prize, however, left him speechless. “I found that I just could not talk for a while. This is like the icing on the cake for me.”

Mantas said he had to be brutally honest when painting himself because he wanted to show that he was a true artist. “I did not want to make a lie with my self-portrait and that is evident on the painting,” he said.

Sinéad Allen, a fifth-year student at Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy, Co Cork, took the second prize of €1,000.

She used charcoal and chalk to draw the wondrously wrinkled face of her late grandfather, Jimmy Hickey, on a grey-coloured card, and had worked from an old photograph because he died two years before she was born.

It was the 17-year-old’s first time to enter the competition.

“I was completely shocked when I heard I was one of the winners because I had forgotten all about the competition,” said Sinéad, who hopes to pursue a university degree in science when she leaves school.

Asked what she intended to do with her prize money, she replied: “I’ll probably go shopping for a while.”

Previous winners of the competition, now in its 55th year, include artists Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, Graham Knuttel and Robert Ballagh, ICTU General Secretary David Begg, politician Ruairi Quinn and novelist Clare Boylan.


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