An art student has spoken of her pride after her painting of a figure deep in thought beneath the shade of a tree was installed in Shirebrook’s renovated cemetery chapel.
Ilona Esanu, 15, who attends Shirebrook Academy, says that she is happy to have made her own lasting contribution to the chapel, in Common Lane, after it was chosen as the winning design in a town art competition.
The competition was launched when the Friends of Shirebrook Cemetery invited students at the Academy to submit pictures to decorate the chapel walls as part of a renovation project undertaken alongside Shirebrook Town Council.
Volunteers have repaired the windows, repainted woodwork and polished the pews, the altar and the brass work, but wanted a picture to fill a space at the head of the chapel.
Around 100 students contributed pictures and the designs were whittled down to three, which were then put to a public vote last year.
Ilona’s design, which features a silhouette of a girl against a warm orange background sheltered by a large tree, was the clear winner and the final version, which was painted on two large canvasses, was installed earlier this month.
She said: “I’m very happy with how the painting has come out. I wanted to draw a tree but I decided that I needed something to fill the space beneath the branches and decided to include the figure.
“I was surprised when I won because I thought the other designs were more suited for the chapel but I’m proud of it. It’s nice to know that something I’ve created has been chosen by the community and will be seen by people whenever they come into the chapel.”
Nick Freer, leader of art at Shirebrook Academy, said: “Ilona’s picture was a clear winner from the very beginning of the voting process and it’s an extremely good choice because it suits the chapel and the cemetery perfectly.
“Ilona has worked extremely hard to complete the painting alongside her schoolwork and it’s wonderful to see it in situ at last.
“It’s thought-provoking and contemplative, while the colour scheme is comforting, so it’s perfect for a place where people will be thinking about their family member or whoever it is they’re giving a send-off to.”
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