TALP 2024 highly commended young artists

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TALP 2024 highly commended young artists

Learn more about the talented young artists who were highly commended by our judges in this year's TALP Open.


Our TALP judges were understandably impressed at the level of talent on display in our first ever Young Artist of the Year category. Three artists were selected for exhibition at Patchings Art Centre from July 11 to August 11, 2024, and five were highly commended.

Here we find out a little more about each of the highly commended young artists and their work.

Gemma Phipps - highly commended for Florrie in the under 18 age category

Florrie by Gemma Phipps

Florrie, coloured pencil, (29x21cm)

Gemma Phipps

Gemma Phipps

My name is Gemma Phipps, I live in Berkshire and I'm an A Level Fine Art student. 

I have spent the last two years focusing on drawing and painting, and experimenting with different mediums and styles.  A lot of my work has been created using oil paints and mixed media and I have found that my strength is in realism. My projects have been on human portraiture and also on animals, and the special relationship we have with them.  As a lover of animals, particularly dogs and horses, I have really enjoyed trying to capture their unique personalities in my artwork.  

Florrie the Dachshund who is featured in my drawing belongs to a friend of mine. Being a nervous dog she is very particular who she socialises with but we have formed a special bond and always have lots of cuddles when I visit.  One of my hobbies is photographing animals, and once I had taken a few photos of Florrie I knew I would enjoy creating a portrait of her. I wanted to capture the fine details so decided to experiment with coloured pencils.  This was actually my first ever coloured pencil drawing and I was pleasantly surprised with the response to it.  I have since picked up commissions for portraits of other dogs and also a horse, although I will have the opportunity to focus more on this work in the summer after my A level exams are complete.

See more from Gemma on Instagram: @gemma_art.x

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Zuzanna Hejmej - highly commended for Favourite in the under 18 age category

Favourite by Zuzanna Hejmej

Favourite, acrylic and coloured pencil, (42x60cm)

Zuzanna Hejmej

Zuzanna Hejmej

Hello! I am a young artist from Poland, although I have lived here in the North East for most of my life. Art has always been an interest for me and a way to express myself, which has helped shape me as a person throughout the years. 

I have recently been working with the idea of meaning relating to items of cutlery. This work specifically portrays my own favourite fork and spoon, done in colour to bring vibrancy, life, and attention to these everyday items that are so regularly overlooked- people often don't realise how much they interact with cutlery, and I want to highlight the close relationship to these items that is intimate in nature through the experience of dining itself. If you stop and think about it, you may find yourself reaching for a specific fork, spoon, knife, plate, or whatever it may be, and I encourage you to explore the deeper reason of why you connect to that item, and give the objects involved in routine tasks more authority: recognise beauty in the mundane. 

When taking a closer look into everyday tableware objects, I want people to experience that the process of a meal can be more impactful than the meal itself, where the focus is often the other way around. Cutlery stays permanent; a companion who should be seen in more than a fleeting glance, with the recognition that each and every item holds individual personality and meaning innately connected to its admirer. 

This piece was created in coloured pencil, as I find that medium very versatile and enjoyable to work with. I consider colour itself as a big part of my life, and I wanted to create an opposite to the usual monochrome of metal, while retaining the characteristic reflections and texture of the material, as I find that- with cutlery- metal items hold the most meaning to me and I wanted to emphasise this ‘memory’ held in the material of the items through showcasing it in a less conventional way. 

Niamh O'Brien - highly commended for One Love in the under 18 age category

One Love

One Love, acrylic and charcoal, (56x41cm)

Niamh O'Brien

Niamh O'Brien

"One love, one heart. Let's get together and feel all right." With today’s global unrest and divisions in society, the song’s message is even more relevant now than when Bob Marley wrote his signature song. This is why I chose it to take inspiration for my painting as it portrays the challenges of the fight for racial equality and freedom, calling for an end to hostilities by people coming together. With such a powerful message, I wanted to let this come through my art by creating a strong, poster style image.

Living in a creative household, I am always trying new crafts and materials. The latest being lino printing which I combine with my sewing by making my own patterns. As I love sewing so much, I even made my own Year 11 tartan prom dress, inspired by Dame Vivienne Westwood. I adore her work as its punk style reflects the economic, social, and political contexts of the time which in turn is an inspiration to me with my art.

In September 2024 I will be starting a Level 3 BTEC Fashion & Textile Design course at Nottingham College, based in their iconic Adams Building within the historic Lace Market area of the city.

In my spare time, I volunteer for St John Ambulance. As a 16-year-old cadet, St John Ambulance has given me many opportunities over the last six years to help my local community by volunteering at events and teaching others first aid. I am extremely proud of my current role as the East Midlands Regional Cadet for 2024 as I can represent the organisation at high-profile events, such as reading a prayer at St Paul’s Cathedral for the St John Day service. However, my future career path is not in medicine as I ultimately aspire to study at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design with the aim of working in Couture Fashion or Costume Design within the film and theatre industry.

For my One Love painting I started by drawing a charcoal sketch of Bob onto a primed MDF panel. I then fixed this with hairspray so the charcoal wouldn’t smudge and muddy the colours. I then added paint, using Pebeo and Windsor & Newton acrylics. As I wanted a lively and energetic feel to mirror Bob Marley’s reggae music and performance, I painted it in a free, loose style. To add an extra element, I included the colours of the Jamaican flag using reflected stage light colours on him. Once I was happy with the painting, I made a paper stencil of the words ‘ONE LOVE’, with a peace symbol within the ‘O’, and using a dry brush technique I painted the stencil onto the painting which made all the elements come together. I hope you enjoy the painting as much as I enjoyed painting it.

Eilidh Mitchell - highly commended for In The Shadows in the 18-30 age category

In the Shadows

In the Shadows, pastel and pastel pencil, (24x30cm)

I am a wildlife and pet portrait artist based in the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland. I specialise in soft pastel art, using a range of soft pastel chalks, pan pastels, and pastel pencils. My preferred surface is Clairefontaine PastelMat which has a velvet like texture and holds multiple layers of pastel, which allows artists to create depth and to capture intricate detail. 

As a wildlife artist, wildlife conservation matters are very close to my heart. In the Shadows depicts a profile view of an Amur leopard against a black background. This is a critically endangered species and this fact weighed heavily on me while creating this piece. More recently, I have sought to depict my animal subjects in their natural habitat however for this piece, I felt that a plain black background accurately captures the bleak and bare landscape of the future of this species (unless further conservation action is taken). 

For this background, I applied a layer of black pan pastel using a sponge for full coverage. I sketched the outline of the leopard using a white pastel pencil then blocked in the shades of grey before marking the spots with pastel chalks. Creating a pastel underpainting is always very satisfying due to how easily the medium blends and smudges. I then used white and grey pastel pencils for the details in the facial features, the fur and finally the whiskers. 

See more from Eilidh on Instagram: www.instagram.com/eilidhmitchellfineart/

Lizzie Ritchie - highly commended for Worn in the under 18 age category


Worn, water-soluble oils, (15x15cm) by Lizzie Ritchie aged 13.


Congratulations to all our young artists.

Don't forget that you can vote for your favourites in this year's TALP Open exhibitions to win the 2024 People's Choice Awards from July 11 to September 30.


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