A TEENAGE former international gymnast-turned painter has outsold acclaimed artist Tracey Emin at a charity artwork auction.
Amber-Lauren Ballantyne-Style, of Garsington, turned to art to help deal with taunting that she received over her weight.
The 19-year-old’s self-portrait was sold for £1,075 at an auction for children’s charity Rays of Sunshine, which supports seriously ill children.
Her work graced the walls alongside prints of work by Sir Peter Blake, Salvador Dali and Picasso, as well as a Tracey Emin original, which sold for £600.
She said: “It was really, really exciting. I couldn’t really believe that it happened.
“It was a fantastic event and it was really incredible. It really did make me feel amazing.”
Miss Ballantyne-Style represented Great Britain as a gymnast from the age of 11, becoming a European Silver Medallist at the age of 13.
But the teenager quit at 14 after being tormented about her weight, battling night terrors and sleep walking from the pressure.
She said: “I was being bullied and told I was overweight and told I needed to lose weight.
“I was perfect the way I was, I didn’t need to lose it. I was very successful in my career, so surely my weight shouldn’t have been an issue. I was completely against the whole thing.
“It really did knock my confidence, but something good has come out of it with my art work.”
After retiring Miss Ballantyne-Style enrolled at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, taking a two-year art and design diploma course then achieving a merit on a one-year foundation course.
She opted out of university, instead establishing her own business, Amber-Lauren Fine Art. It is now backed by the Prince’s Trust after receiving support in March this year.
Her work has even attracted attention from former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton who starred in A View To Kill. The actress purchased one of Amber-Lauren’s paintings three months ago and it now proudly sits in her home.
Ms Fullerton said: “I think she is very gifted. I think she’s on the track of a very special career.
“There’s something about her, when I met her there was an air of melancholy about her and I think that kind of shows in her paintings.”
The auction was at London’s Jack Barclay car showroom in Berkeley Square last Thursday.
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