We could be looking at the next Jack Yeats, Francis Bacon, or Robert Ballagh if the quality of this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Compeition was anything to go by.
It certainly inspired the celebrated batik artist and former winner Bernadette Madden, who has described it as “a magical memory” that sowed a seed which encouraged her to develop her talents at a young age.
This year’s overall winner is Marta Turalska, a 17-year-old student from Newcastle West, Co Limerick, who took first prize in the 16-18 age category of this year’s 62nd Texaco Children’s Art Competition — her first time entering.
Described by competition adjudicators as a “wonderfully composed and superbly finished portrait study”, her winning entry — entitled ‘My Grandma With Grape
’ — is an exceptionally detailed work executed with paint, colouring pencils, and white pen.
A pupil at Scoil Mhuire agus Íde in Newcastle West, Marta attributes much of her artistic achievements to the guidance she receives from art teacher Ciarán O’Sullivan.
Inspired by a photograph of her grandmother taken in her native Poland, the work was said by Declan McGonagle, judging panel chairman, to have been “executed with skill and maturity overlain by a playful humorous quality that gives it an added visual impact”.
Asked how she felt upon hearing of her success, Marta said: “I just couldn’t believe it! I never thought it would be me! My mum collected me from school and told me in the car that I had won. I just screamed, I was so happy.”
Coupled with the prestige of being the overall winner, Marta will also be invited to the International High School Arts Festival in Japan this summer. It takes place from June 22 to July 3 at the country’s largest art museum — the prestigious National Art Centre in Tokyo.
Marta beat competition from thousands of students from across Ireland and receives a prize of €1,500. She follows in the footsteps of past winners which also include artists Graham Knuttel and Dorothy Cross, fashion designer Paul Costello, and former broadcaster and artist Thelma Mansfield.
Other notable past winners include former minister Ruairi Quinn (a four-time winner), communications consultant and Irish Examiner columnist Terry Prone, chairman of the Pension Authority David Begg, actress Jean Anne Crowley, musician Ethna Tinney, Trinity College professor of contemporary Irish history Eunan O’Halpin, and the late novelist Clare Boylan.
In the same age category, the second prize of €1,000 was won by Wiktoria Anna Witkowska (age 16), a student at Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, for her work entitled ‘The Face
’, while third prize (€750) was won by Jack McKeon (age 17) from Ardscoil Rís, Limerick City, for his entry entitled ‘Other People’s Success Isn’t Your Failure
Announcing the awards at a reception held in the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane at Parnell Square yesterday, James Twohig, director of Ireland operations for Valero, who trade in Ireland under the Texaco brand, paid tribute to the winners, praising their skill and enthusiasm.
He also thanked the many teachers from schools throughout Ireland who have given their support to the competition throughout its 62-year history.
The top 21 winning works will remain on exhibition in Hugh Lane gallery until Sunday, May 22.
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