Amber draws on the weight of experience

thisisoxfordshire: Amber-Lauren Ballantyne-Styles with one of the paintings on show in Garsington Buy this photo » Amber-Lauren Ballantyne-Styles with one of the paintings on show in Garsington

A TEENAGER battled night terrors, sleep walking and an eating disorder after suffering abuse about her weight when she was competing in international gymnastics at the age of 13.

Four years on, Amber-Lauren Ballantyne-Styles has moved into art and created a collection depicting the female form in various states of emaciation, obesity and death.

Amber, who has quit the sport of acrobatic gymnastics, said: “I hope my paintings encourage young girls and women to be happy and healthy, no matter what their natural shape is.

“We should embrace our curves and be thankful that we are happy and healthy. I am just so pleased to have turned such an awful and negative time in my life into something more positive that will sustain me for the rest of my life, and I hope this will encourage other young girls like me.”

The Garsington 17-year-old, who has just finished a diploma in art and design at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and moved on to a foundation course, is exhibiting her work at her home, Lower Farm House.

Her mum, Cherry Ballantyne, said: “We were so proud when Amber stepped onto the rostrum to receive her medals and trophies, but little did we realise this would jeopardise her health.

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“We are so thankful for Amber’s dedication and maturity, and as well as being a true inspiration for other young girls and women, we really believe she will be a success.”

On Tuesday, radio presenter Bill Heine officially opened the exhibition, which is available to view from noon to 5pm until the end of October.

The work will also form part of Art in Woodstock later this year and Amber plans to take part in Oxfordshire Artweeks next year.

She hopes to study at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art after finishing her current course.

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