Young artist impresses

Ayda in her bedroom with the prize-winning portrait of her late brother.

Year 7 Mount Lilydale Mercy College student Ayda Paterson has won a prestigious art competition, The Lester Prize’s Youth Award for 2020, for her amazing painting of her brother Ruben who sadly passed away when he was just nine months old.

Her piece ‘Promise You Won’t Forget Me Ever’ took first prize in the Years 7-8 category.

It was among more than 200 artworks by secondary school-aged children from around Australia entered in the Youth Awards of Western Australia’s premier fine art competition, The Lester Prize.

“I was really surprised when they announced it. Mum and dad already knew. They had a phone call but they didn’t tell me,” Ayda, 13, said. “I painted this work a couple of years ago, when I was 11.”

Ayda’s mum Alicia said receiving advance notification of the win was a great surprise.

“We watched the live stream last night (Wednesday 11 November) as we were unable to attend in person due to the restrictions. Ayda was not expecting to place let alone win so it was a huge shock (for her) when she was announced the winner of her age category. We are just so proud of her and it makes it all the more special that the portrait is of her beautiful brother in heaven.

“She painted this as a present for me and Rob (her dad),” Alicia said.

The judges said of Ayda’s artwork: “This work is a tender portrayal that celebrates life and loss, luminously painted with a delicate balance of realism, impressionistic modelling and sensitive brush strokes, the attention to the delicate singlet and the enquiring gaze draws the viewer’s attention.”

Alicia said she knew from when Ayda was nine that her daughter had a gift. She then began weekly art lessons with Kapi Art space (in Kalorama) “and has just blossomed since then”.

Ayda paints with oils and also uses soft pastels and pencils. She loves to draw and paint portraits and animals.

“She’s done a variety of commissions for people and is just getting better and better,” Alicia said.

“She has an easel set up in her bedroom and likes to shut the door and just get lost in her artwork.”

Amazingly, Ayda submitted the painting into the competition of her own accord. The family had to send the painting to WA for it to be on display in Perth and be judged. In usual circumstances, she would have flown to Perth for the announcement of the winner.

The Lester Prize is formerly known as the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture and is now in its 14th year. Ayda will receive $500 from Oxlades Art Supplies.