Ethan’s painting of grandfather is one in 17,000

A painting by a 19-year-old art and design student from Belfast has been selected from over 17,000 entries across the UK to feature in a prestigious art exhibition next month.

By Helen McGurk
Monday, 15th June 2020, 4:32 pm
Ethan Neill
Ethan Neill

Ethan Neill’s painting of his grandfather, Desmond Nugent, will be exhibited in the Royal Academy Young Artists’ Summer Show.

It opens online from July 12 and will be exhibited at the Royal Academy in London later this year.

Ethan has just completed Year 1 of the BTEC Extended Diploma in art and design at Belfast Met, moving into Year 2 in September.

Ethan's portrait of his grandfather

When the Royal Academy put out a call for their Young Artists’ Summer Show earlier this year, Ethan’s painting was submitted by Belfast Met lecturer Mark Chambers, who said: “Ethan is a particularity gifted Level 3 student who has moved up from Level 2 at the college, and is developing a strong use of visual language in his work.

“This will be a great boost to his confidence, and we are all delighted for him.”

Ethan said: “I was really pleased when I heard that my painting was selected.

“My grandad who inspired my piece is a very special member of our family. He is 86 years of age, and continues to give me advice and support.

‘‘During this past year he has overcome a serious illness which resulted in three major surgeries and seven months in hospital. He overcame all this with amazing amounts of courage and bravery.

“It was while he was in hospital that I photographed him for my painting.”

Ethan added his lecturer has “been really supportive” and getting his work into the exhibition has inspired him to achieve his goal of continuing to create art after his course.

For more than 250 years, the Royal Academy has been run by artists, with art and creativity at its heart.

Taking inspiration from the annual summer exhibition, the Young Artists’ Summer Show is an opportunity for young artists aged five-19 years to exhibit their work online and on-site at the Royal Academy.

Mary Ealden from the academy said: ““Thank you to the many schools and households across the country who have nurtured and sustained young artists in this challenging time.

“The standard of the work was extremely high.”

The Royal Academy Young Artists’ Summer Show opens on July 12. It can be viewed at

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