Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival attracts large crowd

THERE were exhibitions, performances, workshops and events at the 23rd Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival.

Large crowds gathered to enjoy the series of fun events held from May 22-25.

When? May 22

Where? Penola High School.

What happened? The festival's 2014 design prize and the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize was announced.

Guest judge Clare Gilham of the Art Gallery of SA was on hand to decide the winners of each category.

Adelaide-based graphic designer/illustrator Tom Roberts, who was unable to attend the night, won the design prize for his "Freelance" piece.

As a result, his design will be used for all promotional material for the 2015 festival.

Kate Smith was the winner of the main prize of the night - the $6000 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize - with her piece "The Crane Is My Neighbour".

"Kate's technically stunning pastel painting is a metaphorical interpretation of John Shaw Neilson's poem "The Crane Is My Neighbour," Ms Gilham said. 

"Re-imagined as an origami figure, the crane drifts behind a girl, tethered to a blue ribbon that waves across the surface of the picture. 

I" imagine that the girl is daydreaming of this noble crane, like in the last line of the poem: "waves are as thoughts coming out to the edge of a dream'." 

Penola's previous winner Dagny Strand was awarded the best local artwork for "The Narrative Life of Norah McKinney".

The youth prize could not be split, with Jordan Lovewell and Thomas Price sharing the plaudits for "The Smoker Parrot" and "Coming Home" respectively.

Robe artist JoJo Spook won the Packer Prize with her artwork "O Heart Of Spring".

Other highly commended works were Ardri Vanderheyden's "Magpie In The Moonlight" and Diana Wiseman's "Let Tired Eyes Go To The Green Field".