Shirebrook teenager Libby enjoys her own 15 minutes of fame as her Warhol art lecture wins national prize

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A Shirebrook teenager was praised by leading art experts for bringing a fresh approach to understanding some of the world’s best-known paintings when she beat youngsters from all over the country to win a national award.

Fifteen-year-old Libby Brown, a pupil at Shirebrook Academy, won judges over with her 10-minute talk on the work of 1960s pop art pioneer Andy Warhol during the final of the Key Stage Four section of the ARTiculation Prize, an inaugural competition for 14 to 16-year-olds designed to promote the appreciation and discussion of art.

Libby had been invited to take part in the final, which was held at the University of Leeds last Friday (jul 8) after she sent in a four minute video in which she talked about Warhol’s genius, expressing her own enjoyment of some of his best-known works, including his colourful Campbell Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe prints, and how it had influenced her own school artwork.

During the final, she expanded on her theme, addressing around 100 people, including a judging panel made up of Lord Burlington – son of the Duke of Devonshire – Professor Griselda Pollock, Professor of the Social & Critical Histories of Art at the University of Leeds, Abigail Harrison-Moore, head of the School of Fine Art at the University of Leeds, and Lucy Salisbury, head of the ARTiculation Prize, which is run by the Roche Court Educational Trust.

Libby spoke about how Warhol was influenced by popular culture around him, citing Adele and the Olympic Games as two icons that might have inspired him if he was living in the UK today, and encouraged the audience to close their eyes and imagine that Warhol was onstage alongside her.

She also went onto to challenge the audience to complete some homework for her too.

Before they handed Libby her prizes – including a book called Thinking About Art and a trophy – judges told her how they had been impressed by the imaginative way in which she had tackled her presentation.

She said: “I was very surprised to win the competition. I didn’t dare look at the judges while I was doing the talk, which involved me giving my opinion on the paintings and referring back to how they related to his world back in his day.

“But I didn’t want it to be just another lecture about a certain painting, which is why I enjoyed doing something different by bringing Warhol up to date, getting everyone to close their eyes and setting them some homework.

“Andy Warhol has inspired me because he was unique and different. He wore a white wig to stand out and I like how much vibrant colour he used in his artwork, which is why as part of my GCSE art course work I took a photo of a daisy and used Photoshop to make it look like a Warhol painting.”

Peter Marshall, head of art at Shirebrook Academy, said: “Libby was influenced by Andy Warhol for her own coursework and she spent hours researching him, producing her video and finally preparing her talk.

“This has been a massive undertaking for Libby and we are all extremely proud that she has made such an impact on some of the most influential people in UK art by showing them a new way of understanding some of the most recognisable pictures in the world.”

Art teacher Nick Freer, who accompanied Libby to the event, said: “On the day it proved to be a really tough field with Libby competing with students from some of the best private and public schools in the country.

“They all spoke eloquently about their chosen pieces but Libby’s presentation was extremely unique and the audience knew they had someone extremely special in front of them.”

Pictured: Libby Brown (second left) alongside the finalists in the 2016 ARTiculation Prize and award judge Lord Burlington, son of the Duke of Devonshire.