A young West Belfast art and design student’s portrait of his grandfather has won him a place in a prestigious young artist’s summer show.

The exhibition opens online from July 12, with 19-year-old Ethan Neill’s work being exhibited at the Royal Academy in London later this year. Ethan’s portrait of his grandfather Desmond ‘Dessie’ Nugent was selected out of over 17,700 entries.

A former St Mary’s Grammar School pupil, Ethan has just completed Year 1 of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design at Belfast Met, moving into Year 2 in September. 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 noted that “Ethan is developing a strong use of visual language in his work”.

“So this will be a great boost to his confidence, and we are all delighted for him,” added Mark.

Speaking after hearing the news that his work had been selected for exhibition, a delighted Ethan said: “I was really pleased when I heard that my painting was selected for the Royal Academy Young Artist’s Summer Show.

“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.

“My lecturer has been really supportive, and this success has inspired me to achieve my goal of continuing to create art after my course.”