Keith Blake, an 18-year-old student at Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry in Thurles has won first prize in this year’s 57th Texaco Children’s Art Competition for his self-portrait entitled A Warm Place. This is the second occasion in recent times that the first prize has gone to Tipperary — Lucy Carragher from Birdhill having been the overall winner in 2008.
Keith fought off competition from more than 30,000 students from north and south. He will receive a cheque for €2,000 at the prize-giving ceremony in Dublin in May. He will also have his winning painting displayed in an international exhibition hosted by Japan’s International Federation for Arts and Culture in the prestigious Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo later this year.
For the past three years, Keith has featured among the prize winners taking a third prize in 2009 and special merit awards in 2008 and 2010. He hopes to pursue a career in art.
The chairman of the judging panel Professor Declan McGonagle said: “In his composition Keith has demonstrated a clear ability to control the medium of oil paint while producing a portrait which remains fresh and spontaneous, with a sense of the person, even though the subject’s eyes are closed.”
The Texaco Children’s Art Competition, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004, is the longest running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland. Past winners include Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD (a four-times winner), artists Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, Graham Knuttel and Robert Ballagh, fashion designer Paul Costello, broadcasters Thelma Mansfield and Terry Prone, ICTU general secretary David Begg and novelist Clare Boylan.