Northern Ireland

Co Down pupil Charley wins all-Ireland art contest for second year running

Teen’s stunning portrait lands top title in annual children’s art competition

Charley Bell with her award-winning portrait titled 'Anticipation'.
Charley Bell with her award-winning portrait titled 'Anticipation'.

A Co Down teenager is celebrating after being crowned the overall winner of a prestigious all-Ireland art competition for the second year in a row.

Charley Bell, a pupil at Methodist College Belfast, claimed the honour in the 70th annual Texaco Children’s Art Competition thanks to her stunning coloured pencil portrait work titled ‘Anticipation’.

The 17-year-old had been named overall winner in last year’s competition, and had previously earned special merit awards in 2020 and 2021.

Chairman of the judging panel, Gary Granville, Professor Emeritus of Education at the National College of Art and Design, said Charley’s 2024 entry was “an exceptionally well executed portrait, that tells of an ‘aged serenity’, of a full life with a wealth of experience and wisdom”.

Her inspiration for the portrait was a photograph of an elderly woman, and Charley said: “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.”

Meanwhile, the overall second-prize winner was another young northern artist, Zara Craig, a 16-year-old pupil at Ballyclare High School.