Arts and crafts are real Royal Show-stoppers

WHEN you think of a competition that measures excellence in agriculture, a southern Sydney competitor may not always spring to mind.

But at the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Royal Agriculture Society of NSW offers more than just rural produce, animal and woodchopping categories.

The arts and crafts division attracts more than 4500 entries in almost 300 classes each year.

From a home chef at Riverwood to a Kurnell seamstress, southern Sydney residents always have a variety of contenders in the race.

It took Maris Cummins 10 months to complete her winning entry for the beadweaving class.

Mrs Cummins, 58, of Oatley, used 160,000 beads to create her artwork illustrating a bridge in a garden.

She used a peyote stitch to piece together the tapestry-like work, which cost about $1000 to make and featured 24-carat gold beads around the border.

“This piece will stay with me at home because I wouldn’t get the money back for the time that I’ve spent on it,” Mrs Cummins said.

“I was inspired a couple of years ago when I visited the show and saw all the other work on display and thought I can do this.”

Mrs Cummins not only took home first place but was also the overall winner for the best exhibit in beading classes.

Licia Politis, 58, of Como, is no stranger to the show, having first entered the quilling section in 1997.

She spent six months making replica babushka dolls by rolling and gluing strips of paper together.

“I collect babushka dolls and I love all the shapes and sizes and patterns,” Mrs Politis said.

“I’ve won 10 first prizes up until now and this has been my fourth year in a row in the standard of excellence showcase.”

Mrs Politis will now send her winning piece to America for a quilting competition in May.

Zoe Wong entered the artwork division for children aged eight to 12 for the first time this year — and won.

Zoe, 9, of Penshurst, who has been drawing since she was five, was encouraged to enter by her art teacher at Insight Education, Hurstville.

“I came up with a shell design because it was a hot day,” said Zoe, who started the four-panel artwork in January.

“It’s exciting to win. Drawing is fun and you can always do it when you get bored.”

Zoe used pencil, colour pencil and soft pencil to come up with her winning piece.

Other winners included Mia Kokkoris, of Carlton, in the mosaic class, Dianne Yensch, of Miranda, in the clay class, and Patrick Thorpe, of Grays Point, in the bowl turning class.

Mortdale Physical Culture Clubhad 11 girls and women aged 9 to 24 perform at the show on Good Friday.

They joined a group of 280 girls across NSW for a big performance display.

Menai High School student Lachlan Hatton, 16, qualified for the state final in several junior judging competitions at the show.

The year 11 primary industries student was the champion in the horticulture and dairy goat division, third in the fruit and vegetable division and fifth in the merino fleece division.

His teacher Sheree Bourke said Lachlan had proven himself to be highly adaptable and a competent junior judge.

‘‘Junior judges are required to assess a class of animals or produce and rank them as close as possible to an over judge,’’ Ms Bourke said.

‘‘The competitors are then required to do an oral to justify the choices of their order.

‘‘It is quite a difficult task for these young people and good training for agriculture judges of the future.’’

St George and Sutherland Shire Leader.