Antrim student Charley Bell has been named the overall winner of the 70th annual Texaco Children's Art Competition.

Bell, a 17-year-old student at Methodist Belfast College, also took home first prize in the senior category for students aged 16 to 18. 

Her work, entitled "Anticipation," is a detailed portrait study in colored pencils. 

Gary Granville, Final Adjudicator and Chairman of the judging panel, described Charley’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.”

Granville, who is also Professor Emeritus of Education at the National College of Art and Design, said: “There is a subversive energy, irrepressible optimism and underlying joy in the image that belies the stereotypical portrayal of aging.

"This wonderful work of art well-deserves the top award in this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition."

Bell, who received a prize of €1,500 for winning the competition, has now won the overall competition for the second year in a row, while she also won Special Merit Awards in 2020 and 2021. 

The middle child of three, Bell first discovered her passion for art at a young age and went on to develop an ability to express herself more through her art works as she progressed through Grammar school. From an artistic family, older sister Carrie has won numerous Special Merit Awards in the Competition, whilst younger brother Rory has received a Commendation.

With one year left to complete in school, Bell believes art will play some role in her future down the line.

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.

“I like working with portraits and when I saw this photo the detailed expression on the woman’s face jumped out at me immediately," the artist explained.

"I knew it would be a challenging and interesting artwork to take on."

The Texaco Children’s Art Competition is popularly regarded as the longest running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland, with an unbroken history that dates back to the very first Competition held in 1955.