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In pictures: The winning entries for this year’s Texaco Children’s Art competition

Methodist College Belfast student Charley Bell takes home €1,500 top prize for ‘exceptionally well executed’ colour pencil portrait

Young artist Charley Bell (17) from Belfast has been chosen as overall winner of this year’s Texaco Children’s Art competition, for which she receives a prize of €1,500.

Bell, a student at Methodist College Belfast, won the competition for her portrait in coloured pencils, entitled Anticipation.

Chairman of the judging panel, Gary Granville, who is professor of education at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), described Bell’s artwork as “an exceptionally well executed portrait, that tells of an ‘aged serenity’, of a full life with a wealth of experience and wisdom”.

No stranger to the competition, Bell was also the overall competition winner last year as well as winning Special Merit Awards in both 2020 and 2021. The inspiration for her prize-winning portrait came when she discovered a photo of an old woman and felt the emotion in her face would be fascinating to bring to life.

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“I like working with portraits and when I saw this photo the detailed expression on the woman’s face jumped out at me immediately. I knew it would be a challenging and interesting artwork to take on,” she explained.

Other top winners in the 16-18 age category included Donegal student, Weronika Jarowinska (16), a pupil at Loreto Secondary School Letterkenny who won second prize (€1,000) for her work called Man to Machine.

Third prize (€750) went to Clare student, Eimear Fitzgerald (16), a pupil at Ennis Art School, for her work entitled Best Friends.

In the 14-15 age category, first prize (€450) was won by Galway student, Darragh Granahan (15), from Gort Community School, for his work, Unconditional Love.

In the 12-13 age category, first prize (€350) went to Mayo’s Charlotte Greham (12), from Breaffy National School, Ballina, for her artwork, Inspiration.

Emily Coffey (11) won first prize in the 9-11 age category, for her piece called Gone But Not Forgotten.

First prize for the 7-8 age category (€200) was won by Clare student, Sinéad Azkorbebeitia (8), from Ennis Art School, for her self-portrait.

The youngest age group in the Competition – 6 years and under – was won by four-year old Louth student, Tadhg Traynor, from Rainbow Club, Drogheda, for his work entitled Dog. The prize for his work was €150.

In a separate category G, first prize of €1,500 was won by James Moonan (18), from The Arthouse, Drogheda, for his work entitled The Wren’s Nest. A multiple previous winner, Moonan also won first prize in Category G of the Competition in 2023, 2021, 2020, and in 2019, second prize in 2018, and Special Merit Awards in 2022 and 2017.

James Twohig, director of Ireland operations at Valero Energy (Ireland) – the company that markets fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand – thanked the adults who “encourage children to see in art an outlet through which to demonstrate their individuality and unique talent and ability”.

“Despite the many worldly attractions and devices that vie for the attention of today’s youth, it is extremely gratifying to know that many continue to show an enduring interest in art and to demonstrate their ability in the magnificent prize-winning entries we see today,” he said.

The Texaco Children’s Art Competition is regarded as the longest-running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland, with a history that dates back to the very first Competition held in 1955. This year was its 70th year running.

Notable past winners include artists, Robert Ballagh, Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, and the late Graham Knuttel, fashion designer Paul Costelloe, and artist and former broadcaster Thelma Mansfield.