Winners of the 2021 Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival Art Awards were announced at the opening of the exhibition in November. Crowds gathered at the Manjimup Art Gallery for the official opening of the exhibition, which showcased work based on the “connected” theme, on November 19. Following an opening speech by Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie, the night’s top prize, the Open Award of $3000, went to Northcliffe artist Elmari Steyn for her piece River Fisherman II. Exhibition judge Su Berghuis-Garde said Ms Steyn’s artwork was rewarded for its “technical mastery combined with sensitive line work”, and she commended all the artists who submitted work on their efforts. “It’s never easy, always an honour, to judge such a mixed exhibition because there’s so many different mediums and styles up against each other,” she said. “The strongest ones stood out to me and I took into account people’s knowledge of technique, their sensitivity to materials and all over composition and impact. “I really want to compliment the organisers on the hanging of (the exhibition) too — the way they’re placed in relation to each other tells a bit of a story and that’s not easy either when you get a whole lot of different people bringing things in.” Other award-winners include Manjimup’s Judy Dimitriou who won the Manjimup Shire Artist Award of $1500 for her work titled Nature’s Connection. The judge’s highly commended award of $200 went to Joanne Francis of Mount Barker, while the judge’s special mentions, with prizes each worth $100, went to Pemberton’s Debra Bettoni, Manjimup’s Jo Hanna and Sylvia Nysten of Australind. Meanwhile the three Art on the Wall sponsorships went to Carmen McFaull of Dunsborough and Manjimup’s Karen Wiedemann and Elaine Steele. Art co-ordinator Fay Dunstan also praised the team of volunteers who worked to hang the exhibition. “It really was quite challenging for the group,” she said. “Debra Bettoni is pretty much the curation leader — with everybody inputting you end up with something like this which is much more than one person just doing it. “The other thing I’d like to say is it wouldn’t happen unless our local businesses supported us.” The exhibition will be on display in the gallery until December 15.