A 17-year-old Mayo schoolgirl has made it through to the semi-final of the prestigious Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition.
Hetty Lawlor, an amateur artist from Kilmeena, Westport, Co Mayo was selected from among 1000 amateur and professional entrants throughout Britain and Ireland to take part in the popular series.
She featured in the first of the televised heats on Tuesday night, competing against eight other amateur and professional artists who were tasked with creating portraits of actor David Tennant, Michaela Cole and James Morrison.
Hetty's portrait of Tennant was deemed the winner on the day by expert judges Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano and Tai-Shan Schierenberg, meaning she is the only artist from her heat to progress to the semi-final.
In order to make it to the televised shows Hetty had to submit a self-portrait which blew the judges away and secured her a place in the competition.
During the judging process Tai-Shan said, "I was wondering whether she was going to be able to capture the lyricism she had in her self-portrait and I think it has captured a certain lyricism today so she's not only technically proficient but there's a kind of beautiful feeling underpinning it all."
Hetty beat stiff competition to be the sole artist to make it to the semi-final and burst into tears of joy when the announcement was made by presenters Frank Skinner and Dame Joan Bakewell.
Tai-Shan added, "We were blown away by her submission because it has an emotional content as well as being technically inventive and she did that again today. And that is really rare. When these two things come together it's just unbeatable."
An emotional Hetty said, "I wasn't expecting anything out of this really. I was expecting to draw someone and go home. I'm very happy with what I achieved. It's great!"
Filming took place in London last Spring but Hetty and her proud parents, Jimmy and Phyl, were sworn to secrecy until recent days.
A total of 30 famous performers will sit for the competitors in the coming weeks. The semi-finalists will be joined by another 13 wild cards to compete for a place in the final.
The three artists who make it to the final will face the challenge of commissions to pain the eminent designer Kenneth Grange, iconic fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and former Spice Girl Geri Horner. Their portraits will hang at the Design Museum, the Fashion and Textile Museum and the British Music Experience.
This year, the winner will be awarded a £10,000 commission to paint multi-award-winning actor Kim Cattrall, and the finished portrait will hang in the permanent collection at The Walker Art Gallery in Kim’s birth city of Liverpool.