The winners of an open art competition have been announced.
Following the overwhelming response to the Staffordshire Moorlands Open Art Exhibition the independent judging panel had a big task on their hands this year in deciding who should walk away with prizes totalling £700.
The special ceremony of prize giving took place on Saturday at the Nicholson Institute's gallery in Leek where the exhibition has been running. The display of locally created art was part of the Leek Arts Festival programme.
First prize in the photography category went to Leek resident Bernard Beech for his image 'Kangaroo Hunter' taking away a prize of £70, followed by a close second place awarded to Rob Barnett from Quarnford for his photograph of a wild Hare entitled 'The Footwasher', and winning a prize of £30.
In the 2D/3D category, five well deserved winners were chosen by the judges based on the broad range and high quality of entries.
Top honours went to Ilona Kazko from Stoke-on-Trent who entered the exhibition for the first time, with her egg tempera painting called 'Grandma's Window', taking away a prize of £150.
Second prize was awarded to a previous prize winner Barry Dixon, from Blythe Bridge who, once again, created a stunning figure sculpture called 'Seated Figure' and took away a prize of £100.
Third prize was awarded jointly to three artists who all received a sum of £50 each for their creations.
Newcomer to the competition Lesley Nixon from Quarnford was commended for her watercolour and ink depiction of wild Hares called 'Waiting for Dawn', while Sarah Rowley from Leek was chosen for her mixed media painting of the Roaches entitled 'Keep Breathing', and finally Thomas Allen Woods of Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent was awarded his prize for his painting 'Nubian Girl'.
This year the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council also decided to extend its prizes and awarded a year's free membership to the Staffordshire Enjoy Art website worth £100 to Mavis Kelter from Eaton Park, Stoke-on-Trent, for her watercolour called 'Along the Caldon', while choosing to award Cliff Beardmore from Leek £50 for his walnut sculpture depicting Rugby players called 'Line Out'.
Council officer David Murrell presented the council's prizes on behalf of councillor Gill Burton, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Finally the 'Public Vote' prize went to a favourite entrant to the exhibition Darren Roberts, a prizewinner in previous events, for his oil on canvas painting 'Dying Daffodils'. Darren was awarded a £50 art voucher. Newcomers to the competition, Quarnford couple Rob Barnett and Lesley Nixon were thrilled to take away prizes for their art.
Rob said: "This is the first time we have entered the exhibition and we are really pleased by the response to our art."
Lesley added: "We both enjoy creating art that depicts local wildlife so to be rewarded for this is great."
Exhibition curator Clare Mellor said: "We really have enjoyed staging this exhibition once again and providing the opportunity to both new and existing artists from across the region to showcase their talent."