Saturday, August 28, 2010

art and faith Australian style: the window that is the Blake prize

This is a fascinating resource: the Blake Prize, exploring the religious and spiritual in art.

The Blake Prize is one of the more prestigious art prizes in Australia. Since 1951 the Blake Society has been awarding a prize for works of art that explore the subject of religious awareness and spirituality.

Here are all the art entries for 2009, and here are the art finalists. Then the catalogue of winners is here, stretching back to 1978. There were over a 1,000 entries in 2009! That’s a lot.

The 2009 winner was artist Angelica Mesiti for a silent video work entitled [Rapture (silent anthem)].

(silent video! edited – 40 seconds of a 10 minute original)

Filmed from a concealed position beneath the stage at a rock concert, it caught the judges eye for its beauty, emotional intensity and technical virtuosity. “An enigmatic work that operates on many levels, Rapture depicts the joy of being alive while also hinting at the darker aspects of religious emotion.”

I find it fascinating because it is art acknowledging the place of pop.culture. First in medium – video winning an art competition (See the Sydney Morning Herald byline: How videos killed the painting stars). Second in theme (crowds at a rock concert) in religion and spirituality. While there is some Christian thinking in this area, it still remains a bit of a challenge to us in our churches and theological colleges!

Anyhow, I will be using this in my Sociology for ministry paper. And perhaps in the future as an introduction to my attempts to sketch a pneumatology for pop.culture. And there is a journal article in this, using the finalists in the competition over the year, to explore the development, or not, of religious and spiritual in Australian culture.

Posted by steve at 01:10 PM


  1. I wholeheartedly would like to support the Archbishop of Sidney’s opinion. And I hope there is some real religious and spiritual culture somewhere in Australia to write about.

    Comment by Ingrid — August 28, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  2. Just for the sake of clarity, here is paragraph re the Archbishop:

    “True to the Blake’s history of provoking debate, it got a lashing last month from the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, who cited what he saw as “anti-religious” and kitsch work, singling out among the finalists Adam Cullen’s depiction of David and Goliath and photographer Belinda Mason’s Christ-like 3D image of Brisbane’s suspended Father Peter Kennedy.”

    So the Archbishop is singling out other works and not directly talking about the Angelica Mesiti piece,


    Comment by steve — August 28, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  3. Yes, that is what I mean also, namely the pictures visible via your links.

    Comment by Ingrid — August 28, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by emergentkiwi, aaronmitchum. aaronmitchum said: a great, short piece on faith and arts in pop culture at emergent kiwi's blog […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention sustain:if:able kiwi ยป art and faith Australian style: the window that is the Blake prize -- — August 30, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

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