Two Northampton students will have their art exhibited at a prestigious festival in Japan after coming first and second in an international competition.
Anastasija and Morenike from Northampton Academy found out they had topped United Learning’s annual contest last week.
Both Year 11 pupils will have their work shown at the International High School Arts Festival in Tokyo, while Anastasija won an all-expenses paid trip to see it in person.
"I am in shock and extremely proud. I worked really hard on my entry so I am very glad my efforts paid off," she said.
"I am excited to see what my future holds and to continue growing and developing as an artist.”
The competition challenges young artists in secondary schools across United Learning – of which Northampton Academy is a part – to create an original piece of artwork.
This year, the competition was conducted entirely virtually with final scores comprised of votes from three separate audiences: social media, the trust's staff as well as two professional artists, Meha Hindocha and Francesca Skelhorn.
Over a two-week period, these audiences looked through photos of the students’ artwork and voted for their favourite pieces.
For the expert judges, this involved taking part in a special virtual judging panel where they discussed the submissions and selected the pieces that stood out to them.
In securing the highest overall score, Anastasija was awarded first place in the competition and is set to go on the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Tokyo later this year.
Her detailed piece, titled Knowledge is Power, shows an elegantly dressed woman sitting atop a mountain of books.
Ms Hindocha said: “This is a beautifully painted piece. It is really well thought out and there is great attention to detail.
"I love the composition and placement of a powerful black woman in a gorgeous outfit and heels on top of the ancient books.”
Closely behind the winner came joint runner-up Morenike, who is set to receive a special art kit to commend her efforts.
In creating her painting, An Ethereal Courtesan, the student took inspiration from the iconic image of a geisha.
Ms Skelhorn praised it as being a “dramatic and very technically strong piece of work” which gave the traditional figure a contemporary edge.
The school also had a third entrant in the competition, fellow Year 11 student Dominion, who entered an expressive piece called My True Colour.
Principal Chris Clyne said: “Congratulations to all three of our students on their impressive contributions to this year’s International Art Competition.
"They all worked incredibly hard on their entries and I am proud of the determination they showed to produce such high-quality work.
“It is particularly pleasing to have Anastasija and Morenike take home first and second place and get the chance to have their work celebrated on an international stage.
"The success they have had in the competition is testament both to their creativity and determination, as well as to the ongoing support they receive from our fantastic art department.
"I am very much looking forward to seeing our young artists continue to build on what they have achieved.”