AN ULVERSTON artist's painting came out on top with the public as it received the people's choice award in an annual exhibition of 260 pieces.

Kevin Chester's winning work, 'Baiana', was inspired by his experience living in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

The painting features a Baiana - who were women of African descent taken to Brazil into slavery - in a traditional white lace dress.

It emerged as the favourite of the public at the annual exhibition of the Lake Artists Society at Rheged Gallery, near Penrith.

Mr Chester, who is the outgoing president of the Lake Artists Society, said the painting was a tribute their 'sense of identity, strength, beauty and dignity in the face of extreme and inhuman adversity'.

“It’s not a typical painting that you’d expect to win this prize at a Lake Artists Society show - you’d expect a picture of Lakeland to win it,” he said.

"It’s very encouraging that people have related to a cultural image that’s so different to their own culture, that they’ve identified with something beyond their everyday experience.”

Tim Fisher, owner of Keswick's Northern Lights Gallery, which sponsored the people's choice award, praised Mr Chester's painting, saying: “Is there a longing in this painting for better times gone and, perhaps, better times to come?

"The viewer is left to imagine how it would be to stand in front of this lady, perhaps chatting with her, sharing a glass of something cold down by the waterfront.

"There is indeed a sense of lost time that many people have felt these last two summers, not being able to travel overseas.”

The exhibition at Rheged Gallery closes on November 21.