A FORMER pupil at Lady Lumley’s in Pickering is now making major waves in the Australian sculpture scene.

April Pine, 29, won the People’s Choice Award for her work at the recent Sculpture by the Sea show on Bondi Beach in Sydney, which attracted more than half a million visitors. Her winning piece featured large statues of surfers, hammered together from steel and aluminium grids, gazing out to sea.

On the back of the show, at which she sold 11 sculptures, the commissions have been flooding in from private buyers around the world, as well as public institutions in Australia. “It’s been the most incredible experience,” she said. “I feel very grateful to have had my work make such a positive impact.”

It’s a success based on hard graft. After training as an architect at Curtin University in Western Australia, she spent years working long hours at Hassle Architecture in Perth, designing large projects, including a new museum and apartment developments - and creating sculptures in her spare time.

Now the sculpturing, which she’s done full-time since March after another successful show in Perth, requires 15-hour days.

April’s mum Denise said that her daughter had been hard-working from a young age. “April’s first job was selling every part of a chicken, including the feet, at a butcher’s when she was 12,” she said.

“She’s not stopped working since. I think it’s a Yorkshire thing... or so we’re told.”

April grew up in Snainton before moving to Pickering, attending primary school there. The family moved to Australia in the late 1990s, but returned a few years later for a short time after Denise’s liver transplant failed. April went to Lady Lumley’s between 2002 and 2004.

Denise said that following her ill health, April and her sister Kelly “had to grow up really quickly”.

She added: “April has always been artistically talented and never believed in her own abilities, no matter how many times we told her.

“Her entire family is so proud of what she has achieved.

“It goes to show that perseverance and dedication to something you love doing does work out in the long run.”