An artist renowned for a stunning portrait of Marilyn Monroe made entirely out of Swarovski crystals has compiled her latest work on a subject close to the hearts of many.

North Yorkshire's Claire Milner hit the headlines in 2012 when she captured the 1950s pin-up in her own unique style and it was bought by megastar Rihanna for more than £80,000.

Claire, who is based near York, has now put her celebrity portraits - which included David Beckham and Amy Winehouse - to one side, and turned her attention to endangered animals.

Claire said: “This is a subject that is very close to my heart.

"The collection has involved hundreds of hours of emotionally draining research, as well as the individual application of tens of thousands of crystals, so to see the paintings finally finished and getting such a positive response is fabulous.”

The powerful paintings focus on the plight of some of the world’s most vulnerable species and at first glance represent beautiful images of animals, yet upon closer inspection each work shows a much darker subtext of the consequences of poaching, climate change and habitat loss on endangered animals.

The collection is all about contrasts, both literal and metaphorical.

The animals alone represent the last of the species and are made up of thousands of Swarovski crystals, while the technical precision of the crystal mosaic faces contrast against the ominous painted backgrounds.

The seven images are all linked to literature, and each features a hand print to "symbolise the birth of art and the destruction of the planet".

The new works include an Amur leopard, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and an allegory for the greed of man, an African elephant and the giant head of an endangered tiger, complete with snare, which are encrusted with 17,000 and 32,000 crystals respectively.

A compelling portrait of a gorilla was inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost and created with 7,000 pieces of jewellery.

A panda, one of the most powerful symbols of species conservation in the world and created with 9,000 crystals, is intended to serve as a warning that mankind destroys the environment at his own peril.