‘Is this Normal?’: Irish teen’s portrait of masked sister wins major art prize

14-year-old Eva McParland was the winner of this year’s Zurich young portrait prize for ‘Is this Normal?’

Ireland’s National Gallery has announced the winners of this year’s Zurich young portrait prize, and 14-year old Eva McParland was the overall winner.

Her incredible coloured pencil portrait entitled ‘Is this Normal?’ encapsulates the feeling of the past year as it depicts her younger sister wearing a face mask.

‘Is this Normal?’ – a stunning artwork

14-year-old Eva's ‘Is this Normal?’.
Credit: Facebook / @NationalGalleryofIreland

For her prizewinning piece, Eva was awarded €500 and various high-quality art materials to help her practice her talents and continue to pursue her passion for art.

The 14-year old artist said, “I love creating art that reflects current events. I hope that through my art, I can compel viewers to see these events from a different perspective.

“In this portrait of my younger sister Ellen, I hope viewers will recognise how children are deeply affected by this pandemic.

“This will be an experience that stays with them forever. Being isolated from your friends for so long is not healthy. I want people to see this. I also hope to evoke thoughts about normality. Is the mask normal? Is there such a thing as normal?”

Other winners – talented young artists

Other winners included 10-year old Jiayi Sun.
Credit: Facebook / @NationalGalleryofIreland

Six-year-old Conor McPolin was another young Irish artist who was awarded for his work. His self-portrait ‘Conor’ won in the six and under category.

In his application, he wrote, “My name is Conor. I am 6 years old. I made a painting of me with big hair and escaping the coronavirus.”

The seven to eleven category was won by 10-year-old Jiayi Sun, who created a stunning paint on canvas self-portrait entitled ‘Myself Eating Ice Cream’.

The talented 10-year-old wrote, “I have been learning how to paint for around six years. However, I’m not as excellent as renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh.

“I enjoy the pleasure brought by painting, just like them. It also gives me a way of expressing feelings and thoughts towards this world.”

Irish teen artists – talent of the future

As well as ‘Is this Normal?’, JohnLuka's 'Joey' was also recognised.
Credit: Facebook / @NationalGalleryofIreland

12-year-old An Zili Yang won the prize in the 12-15 category for her work ‘A Girl in Silence’.

She said, “One day when I sat in the back garden and enjoyed freeing my imagination, my mum took a photo of me in that moment. She thought this showed another side of me.

I felt that it would be interesting and meaningful to paint this and show the people around me a different me.”

The winner of the 16-19 category was 17-year-old JohnLuka Doherty, who submitted a fantastic portrait of his school basketball coach Joey.

Talking about why he decided to paint his basketball coach, Doherty said, “I am going into sixth year. I am planning on going to art college next year. This portrait is of my school basketball coach Joey Boylan.

“He is usually a quiet man, but sometimes on the courtside, he explodes with passion for the game. I wanted to show his quiet intensity.”

To view all the winners of the National Gallery’s Zurich portrait competition, head to the National Gallery website here.

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