The Blake Prize Exhibition, exploring the religious and spiritual through art and poetry.
The Blake Art Prize has been awarded since 1951 and the Blake Poetry Prize since 2008. Artworks and poems must address a subject of religious or spiritual integrity. This pre-requisite is one that intentionally invites open responses from artists and poets and, as such, has drawn much discussion and debate over the past 61 years.
In 2012, 57 finalists were selected for the exhibition from 1126 entries. An impressive 33 works were created by female artists, and join this year’s showcase of impressive contemporary practitioners and emerging artists.
Rev Dr Rod Pattenden, Chairperson for The Blake Society, says the non-profit Awards challenge artists to explore the bonds between art, religion and spirituality.
The two joint winners of this year’s main prize depict Islam and the practice of Buddhism. Eveline Kotai is compelled by Buddhism and literally imbues the spiritual practice in her work Writing on Air – Mantra Triptych, while Fabian Astore illuminates spiritual presence in his depiction of The Threshold inside the magnificence of the Suliman Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
The John Coburn Emerging Artist Award was taken out by Hyun-Hee Lee for her work ‘Homage’, which relates to her conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism and the respect and gratitude she has for both religions. The work contains texts of the New Testament translated into Korean cut into strips then folded and knotted into small bows, then attached in a complex overlay.
Saif Almurayati was awarded the MUA Blake Prize for Human Justice for his DVD ‘Unfolding History’. Entranced by listening to the Islamic chant, the work recaptured glimpses of his earliest memories; at his Grandmother’s house, throughout refugee camps, and subsequent experiences in Australia. He tells his personal story, the apparent loss of identity and the acknowledgement that the process of change is not unique.
Judges: Roland Boer, Felicity Fenner and Hossein Valamanesh.
The Blake Poetry Prize judges was awarded to Graham Kershaw for his poem, ‘Altar Rock’, which addresses the mixed inheritance of white settlement in the Murchison district of WA. Also known as Mass Rock, Altar Rock is where 1920’s architect and priest, John Hawes, took communion to indigenous people who were reluctant to attend a church.
Sydney artist Greg Weight won the 2012 Blake Prize People’s Choice Award with his photograph ‘Sign of the Cross’, a powerful image of an isolated church on the NSW Hay Plains.
Weight’s dramatic image about loss of faith in a world of increasing conflict and hostility, shows a threatening storm approaching. Inside the church a red glow appears, illuminated by the last light from the setting sun. In the foreground a single set of tyre tracks embedded into the dirt road mysteriously suggest a conscious decision to turn away. There are seven references to the cross in the image, including the telegraph pole set against the heavy sky.
“The Sign of the Cross or crossing oneself is a ritual hand motion tracing the shape of the cross in the air or on one’s own body and is made by many branches of Christianity. The tyre tracks left imprinted into the wet dirt road, remind me of that physical gesture”, said Weight.
The Blake Prize People’s Choice Award of $1000 was sponsored by Steven J Miller & Co.
PUBLIC PROGRAM, SUNDAY AFTERNOONS @ THE GALLERY, 3-4pm
Sunday 11 November – Humanness, ritual and a spiritual quest
Meet the winners of this year’s Blake Prize Awards for art and poetry. Join artists Eveline Kotai and Fabian Astore, joint winners of the 61st Blake Art Prize, Hyun-Hee Lee winner of the John Coburn Emerging Artist Award and poet Graham Kershaw, winner of the 5th Blake Poetry prize, as they discuss their spiritual quest and art practice.
Sunday 18 November – Poetry in the 21st century
Join David Musgrave, one of the finalist poets and Blake Poetry Prize judge Martin Langford, as they discuss what it means to be a poet in the 21st century.
Sunday 25 November – Human justice, art and ethics
Join the winner of the MUA Blake Prize for Human Justice, Saif Almurayati and artist Gabrielle Courtney as they discuss their works in the exhibition.
Sunday 2 December – Artist talk
Join artists Sylvia Griffin, Aaron Anderson, Jane Becker and Sue Saxon (highly commended) as they discuss their art practice and their installation works in the exhibition
Sunday 9 December – Artist talk
Join artists Tim Johnson, Margaret Ackland and Sally Blake as they discuss their art practice and their paintings in the exhibition.
Sunday 16 December – ‘Art and Being Human’, spiritual celebrations with Rev. Rod Pattenden and inspirational singer Trish Watts.
Celebrate the closing of the 61st Blake Prize with a glass of complimentary champagne, along with Trish Watts and Rev. Rod Pattenden, who will reflect on the exhibition. Artists Caroline Rothwell, Peter Fyfe and Max Berry will discuss their works in the exhibition.
List of works