A PAINTING inspired by the moment hundreds of Libyan refugees were rescued at sea has won a top art prize.

Refugee Rescue, created by driving instructor and amateur portrait artist Stephen Burgess, won the 2017 MS Amlin World Art Vote prize organised by National Open Art and voted on by the public.

Burgess, from Buckinghamshire, was inspired by an image taken from an Italian Navy helicopter and said his painting “signifies the small degree of hope that hopefully exists in us all”.

The picture depicts, in miniature, the faces of the 307 refugees on the boat – a painstaking process that took the artist 53 hours to complete over more than six weeks.

Burgess, a member of the Refugee Support Network, said: “The boat had been at sea for six days yet the joy on people’s faces is undeniable. There is a real sense of relief to it – it’s the moment they realised they’ve been saved.”