Belfast Telegraph

Moment of magic: how teenage artist Ryan Hazley reimagined a rural scene after taking just one glance at his subject

By Harriet Crawford

This intricate drawing of a beautiful sliver of Northern Ireland countryside was drawn by a schoolboy after just one look at the landscape.

"Superhero" schoolboy Ryan Hazley's award-winning drawing of a Hillsborough landscape was drawn entirely from memory.

Ryan (16) was inspired by a walk around the Co Down lake but it was not until he returned home that he decided to depict the scene.

His prodigious talent for drawing from memory has now been officially recognised after his detailed sketch 'Landscape of Hillsborough' was awarded top prize in one of the categories in the Texaco Children's Art Competition.

"I walked around the lake in Hillsborough and when I went home I imagined me going around it and drew it from my mind," Ryan told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Most of my pictures I imagine - I actually draw from my imagination."

Ryan taught himself to draw and stands out as the only member of his family who has shown real flair as an artist.

"I don't know where it came from, honestly," he said.

"My mum is okay - she would draw now and then.

"But I just took it up when I was young."

Ryan's rare skill is matched by his modesty.

"He's our superhero," said classroom assistant Elaine Cromwell.

"Ryan is so talented, but he is very humble about his work as well."

"It was good to win," Ryan said, "they are all really good pictures.

"It's great to see mine hanging in the Ulster Museum."

The student artist particularly enjoys pencil drawing and oil painting, but enjoys depicting all potential subjects. "I like drawing landscapes, portraits, animals - anything," he said.

Ryan has already spent the €400 (£319) prize he was awarded, all going on "a whole bunch of art stuff".

"So I can do more," he said.

"I bought materials - oil paints, pencils."

The budding talent hopes to apply his skills for illustration on films in the future.

Ryan, a pupil at Beechlawn School, Hillsborough, was accompanied by proud classmates to the exhibition opening at the Ulster Museum yesterday.

He is one of 15 pupils from Northern Ireland who have had their art selected to exhibit in Belfast's Ulster Museum in this year's 60th Texaco Children's Art competition.

Their carefully chosen artworks are among 127 winning pieces that will be on display in the exhibition until January 2014.

Frida Kahlo and the surrealists influenced Hannah Witherspoon (16), who won third prize in the category for 14- to 15-year-olds for her painting entitled 'Hands'.

"I don't like doing super-realistic work, I like experimenting," she said. The Wellington College pupil spent two-and-a-half weeks working on her award-winning acrylic painting of a friend's hands.

She had also been impressed by the Ulster Museum's 'Art of the Troubles' exhibition.

"It was really inspiring," she said.

Of the 15 works by Northern Ireland students, six are from Co Down, four are from Co Antrim, three from Co Tyrone and two from Co Derry.

World-renowned Belfast-born sculptor, Brendan Jamison, opened the exhibition yesterday.

He said of the young artists: "I love the variety of works - from the extremely exquisite detailed portrait pieces, to the more exuberant uses of colour in the spontaneous works.

"It's a wonderful mix.

"The first time I visited this exhibition was back in 1998 when I was at art college myself, so it's wonderful to be back now."

Jamison has had his work exhibited in the Prime Minister's home at 10 Downing Street, sold at Sotheby's and currently has two pieces of his work on display at the Royal Ulster Academy exhibition in the Ulster Museum.

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