THE transition from childhood to life as an adult proved to be the winning inspiration for one young artist.
Aleksandra Fudali (18), originally from Krakow in Poland but now living in Bandon, Co Cork, was yesterday unveiled as the overall winner of this year's Texaco Children's Art Competition.
In between studying for her Leaving Cert at St Brogan's College, she created a stunning self-portrait entitled 'My Future is yet to Written' which features her peering out from a torn sheet of paper.
"I was working on it for over two months, not every day but often at the weekends," she said.
"My inspiration was the fact that I am finishing school this year. I feel very attached to the school and am sad to be leaving. I'm suspended between the two worlds -- the past and the future.
"The blank paper represents something that I can be worked on. Only I can be the painter of my own future," she explained.
The evocative pencil drawing was a hit with the judges who praised Aleksandra's "eye for detail".
Her portrait, along with the rest of the winning art works, were displayed in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin yesterday with the artists and their families travelling from all over the country for the occasion.
Visitors to the gallery did a double-take when they spotted 'Jack' by Shania McDonagh (14) from Mount St Michael Secondary School in Claremorris, Co Mayo. The intricate pencil drawing, which showed each wrinkle and bristle on the elderly Jack's face, was so realistic it could easily be mistaken for a photograph.
She won first prize in the 14-15 years age category, the third year in a row she has been a winner in the competition.
"I saw Jack in a book and drew him from that. It's all pencil and I used a rubber on it to get the white. It took me three weeks to do, an hour or two each night," she said.
Mia Browne (6), from Castleknock in Dublin, used oil pastels, markers and crayons to create her piece, 'Life Under the Sea'.
"I have a pet goldfish and I wondered what it would be like to live under the sea like him," she explained.
Alan Sweeney (7), a pupil at Coosan National School in Athlone, Co Westmeath, drew a picture of the Titanic.
"I used Twistables and colouring pencils. We were learning about it in school so I decided to draw it. I did a project on it too," he added.
Unfortunately, the winner of the special-needs category, 16-year-old Deirdre Manny from St Joseph's Secondary School in Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, could not attend.
Organisers explained that the talented teenager, who has won first prize in her category for the third year in a row, this time with a painting entitled 'White Wild Roses', is currently undergoing an operation in London and wished her a speedy recovery.