If it is true that every good artist must endure pain in order to produce good work then Lily Claypole has got her suffering out of the way early.

The young artist immersed her body in the chilly waters of the lake at Bason Botanic gardens in order to emulate the drowning Ophelia in Sir John Everett Millais' famous 19th-century painting.

The resulting work is one of a series that will make up her first solo exhibition Mimesis which opens at the Fine Arts Whanganui Gallery on June 15.

As winner of the 2018 Young Artist Scholarship, Claypole has been supported by members of the Fine Arts Whanganui collective to prepare for the exhibition.

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Mimesis is the imitative representation of the real world in art and literature and Claypole says she has explored the art of mimicry in her photographs.

"I want to capture the light, compositions and feelings that are evoked in Pre-Raphaelite paintings," she says.

"In art, we can see mimicry as a means of recontextualisation, an alternative presentation or recycling of ideas and imagery."

The artist has also enlisted other young women to model for her exhibition series.

"I want to thank my beautiful models as well as my amazing teachers - Catherine Slayer and Graham Hall for always supporting me.

"And I am very grateful to the Whanganui Fine Arts Gallery for selecting me as the scholarship winner."

Claypole completed her education at Whanganui High School last year attaining NCEA level 3 with excellence endorsed and was named female dux.

A further affirmation of her artistic ability was received when her work was chosen as the winner of the youth prize at the 2018 Sarjeant Gallery Arts Review.

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There is also the possibility that she may have a genetic predisposition to being a good artist because her mother is award-winning Whanganui artist Katherine Claypole.

The opportunity to hold a solo exhibition has come at a perfect time, says Claypole.

"When I learned that I had won the scholarship last year, I decided that I would devote the first part of this year to preparing for the exhibition because it is such a good opportunity to show my work."

Some of the $1000 prizemoney she received has been spent on props and photographic equipment for her Mimesis series.

"It's a good investment," she says.

Claypole is the second winner of the Young Artist Scholarship and the second Whanganui High School student.

Mikayla Baldwin who won in 2017 is now studying at Victoria University and has been able to put some proceeds from art sales towards her costs.

Mimesis by Lily Claypole: Whanganui Fine Arts Gallery, 17 Taupo Quay. Saturday, June 15 until Thursday, July 11.