LEONGATHA Rotary Club President Kerry Pritchard was delighted to report that entries were up from 280 last year to 350 this for the club’s 37th annual art show. And it wasn’t just the quantity on show, according to art show judge Maria-Luisa Marino, who told the crowd at the gala opening last Friday night that the quality of the works had far exceeded her expectations. “We have a lot of very talented people in the area and I would like to congratulate Rotary for allowing the artists to exhibit their work in such a professional way.” Ms Marino should know. As Assistant Curator at the Latrobe Regional Gallery, she has hung many an exhibition there since 2010, taking the opportunity to recommend the Latrobe Gallery to locals as well worth a visit. The gallery is presently hosting some installation sculptures by Sanne Mestrom, a feature of the works of realistic South Australian painter Peter Serwan and a special feature on art from the cosmos entitled Sky Lab including such artists as Daniel Armstrong, Govinda Sah Azad (Nepal), Magda Cebokli, Lesley Duxbury, Sam Leach, Harry Nankin, Felicity Spear, Vanessa Stanley and Tarja Trygg (Finland). Ms Marino made comments about each of the works she had selected for the main awards, noting that it had taken her two hours to finally settle on the photographic study by Yianni Banikos of Waratah North, ‘Celebration No.1’ as ‘the best in show’. She described it as an exhilarating work, full of humour and seductive colour, evoking the feeling of a Renaissance still life with intriguing detail like the dog feasting in the foreground. Mr Banikos was not at the opening event but expressed his delight when collecting his photograph on Sunday. “It’s part of series of ‘celebration’ works I’m planning to do,” he said. Other works to receive major awards were as follows: * Pat West Award: Gillian Carpenter, Fish Creek ‘The Old Shed Still Stands’. * Richard Peglar Memorial Award: Keith Blake ‘Golden Wattle’. * Best black and white photo: Carmel Slater, an upright piano in decay. The judge said the piece was “full of interest, prompting the viewer to wonder how and why it got there” in the paddock. * Best colour photography: Peter Boyes, Moe. * Best digitally modified photo: Kerry Spokes, Fish Creek ‘Unnatural Selection 2’, a picture that has been selected for an international exhibition. The judge remarked on the seamless nature of the enhancement which shows a waterbird carrying away a picnic chair. * Best work by a South Gippsland resident: Jessica Staben, Nyora ‘Kalyani’. * Best in Show: Yianni Banikos, Waratah North ‘Celebration 2’. * Best Youth: Josh Nicol, Ruby ‘Oncoming Storm’ and Camille Thompson, Leongatha ‘Restricted’. The following were highly commended: Julie Boyd, Korumburra ‘Oranges’, Margaret Cary, Mt Martha ‘Peninsula Winters Morning’, Lily Day, Mornington ‘Dusk’, Jeremy Elkington, Traralgon ‘Rome in the Valley of the Kings’, Heinz Fickler, Mont Albert ‘Evening Light’, Sherie Howard, Boolarra ‘Another Place’, Linda Keagle, Korumburra ‘Pomegranates’, Vanessa Kell, Clifton Hill ‘Hay Bales 2’, Carolyn Marrone, Kangaroo Flat ‘Dining Al Fresco’, Fiona Mittag, Beaconsfield ‘Driftwood & Dunes’, Anne Pinkstone, Koonwarra ‘Stanley Tasmania’, Carmel Slater, Leongatha ‘Untitled’, Alan Starkey, Inverloch ‘Reflections from Shack Bay’, Michael Tollis, Croydon ‘Gertrude Street’ and Malcolm Webster, Forest Hill ‘Morns First Ecstacy’.