Bernadette Doolan said judging the annual Lions Club Open Submission exhibition was one of the most difficult things she has had to do.
As an established artist and Royal Ulster Academy award winner with solo and group shows under her belt, Bernadette is aware of the courage it takes to produce a painting in the privacy of a studio or kitchen corner and allow it to be hung on a wall in a public gallery for people to view and judge.
'That is a huge accomplishment and the reason why everyone who has a painting or drawing on the wall here today is a winner,' said Bernadette.
'There always has to be a winner but just because the other paintings weren't selected doesn't mean that they are inferior'.
'I hope that people feel inspired by the fact that they have entered this exhibition and that it might become a stepping stone to something else', she said. 'For some of the entrants, art may have been part of their lives before and they are now tapping back into something that they already knew.'
Bernadette complimented the Lions Club on the exhibiton which she said is an amazing opportunity for people to paint and show their work publicly.
'Everyone who has a painting here is an artist and I hope they will continue to paint,' she said.
Bernadette spent some time alone looking at the paintings before the exhibiton opened and was struck by the wide range of subjects chosen in the open-themed show, from landscape, street scenes and portraits to animals domestic and wild, still life and abstract. 'It was lovely seeing what other people see.
There was a great response to the open call this year with 120 grown-up artists of varying experience and 60 young people aged from six years upwards from all over Co. Wexford submitting paintings for the popular event which is now an artistic institution of sorts having been held for the past 28 years.
The exhibition which was officially opened by Bernadette last Saturday will continue at Wexford Arts Centre until March 31.
The prizes were sponsored by Spectrum Art Supply Shop in Selskar, Wexford County Council and the Lions Club.
The overall adult winner was Dorothy Hatton for her beautiful landscape while three merit awards went to Kevin Lewis for 'From the Opera House', Jan Ryan for 'Kitchen Bliss' and Gwenda Wallace for Winter Reflections and bio-diversity prizes were won by Jane Phil Landi for 'Wild Meadow' and Alison Guthrie for 'Swimming into Yesterday'. The children's entries and winners list will be featured next week.