Young painters put their stamp on art scene

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese unveiled four new postage stamps yesterday which celebrated the vibrancy of young Irish artistic talent.

The unique paintings were chosen from more than 50,000 entries nationwide to be made into stamps to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Texaco Children’s Art competitions.

As Mrs McAleese presented the awards to the top 21 overall winners in the art competition, she paid tribute to the quality of the entries.

“Some of the foremost leading painters were winners once upon a time when they were little,” she said. “Your names will soar, they’ll be written in lights just like they are today.

“Names like Robert Ballagh, Graham Knuttel, Dorothy Cross and Bernadette Madden are very telling of just how important a marker this competition is in the lives of our artistically talented young people,” the President added.

Mrs McAleese congratulated the winners as she viewed the 161 pieces of work by the young artists in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel yesterday.

The top award went to 17-year-old Niamh Fanning, who beat off stiff competition from across 26 counties, to win the €1,500 UTV and Texaco Young Artist Commission.

Her chalk pastel drawing from an old photo of her uncle Brian Flaherty carrying his son Rory on his shoulders won her the prestigious award.

The fifth-year student was surprised to get the news that she had won. “I was shocked, I didn’t believe my mum at first when she told me,” she said yesterday.

Niamh hasn’t decided yet whether she will go on to study art when she finished school, but she will keep it up in some shape or form.

The youngest artist picked was seven-year-old Cian Colman, who also attends Skerries Art School.

Half a million 48 cent stamps of his drawing, Marmalade Cat, will feature on letters from today.

And 300,000 of each of Daire Lee, Daire O’Rourke and Ailish Fitzpatrick’s artworks are also printed.

Ailish, from Kilrush in Co Clare, said she was delighted with the e1 stamp of her painting Fish On A Dish.

“I didn’t know until today. I just found out,” the 13-year-old said.

“I do art at school and I don’t know if I will go on to study art but I’ll definitely keep it as a hobby.”

The four stamps are available from today in the country’s main post offices.

They can be seen at www.irishstamps.ie. The winning entries can be seen at www.texaco.ie/childart.

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