Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) has announced the 88 talented finalists for the 66th Blake Prize – Australia’s longest standing and most prestigious prize. Hailing from all over the world and across Australia, the finalists were carefully selected from a record 1,200 entries, a massive 56% increase on the 2018 submissions.
The Blake Prize is a biennial event that engages local and international contemporary artists in conversations on the wider experience of spirituality, religion, and belief. The selected finalists will have their work shown at The Blake Prize exhibition on 13 February 2021 at CPAC.
“We’re thrilled about the record number of entries we’ve received this year from such talented artists. An overwhelming majority of finalists came from Australia, proving what an incredible pool of talent we have in this country. Better still, this year’s finalists include artists from every Australian state and territory,” said CPAC Director Craig Donarski.
“The winner of this prestigious prize will receive $35,000; the winner of the Blake Emerging Artist Prize will also take home a cool $6,000; the winner of the Blake Poetry Prize will be awarded $5,000 and feature in the exhibition alongside the Art Prize Exhibition of finalists; and the winner of the Blake Established Artist Residency will receive a one-month residency and a solo exhibition here at Casula Powerhouse in Liverpool,” he said.
Australian artists with national exhibition profiles include: Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (Blakeheath, NSW), whose video work The Pilgrims focuses on insta-tourists and our decade of self-worship; Zanny Begg (Bulli, NSW), whose video, Stories of Kannagi, features members of the Western Sydney Tamil community and explores the impacts of civil war; and Kent Morris (Elwood, VIC) whose photograph, Barkindji Blue Sky – Ancestral Connections #9, features kiinki (Corellas) circling a large telecommunication tower in the centre of Melbourne.
Sam Cranstoun (Brisbane, QLD), who demonstrates the many different ways people are being watched from those above in Look Out!; and Antoine Veling (North Rocks, NSW), who captured a moment of ecstasy resembling religious iconography in Mark 5:28, when Iggy Pop invited the audience on stage during a show at the Sydney Opera House.
Artists from Western Sydney include: two Parramatta Artist Studio residents, Liam Benson (Baulkham Hills, NSW), whose large embroidery, Community Participation Embroidery, Thoughts and Prayers, was created through artist-led workshops in which participants made tributes to loved ones.
Mehwish Iqbal (Oatlands, NSW), whose own embroidery series, Tombstones, draws inspiration from Sufi poets, Rumi and Bulleh Shah, and explores the cycles of life; and Tom Yousif (Green Valley, NSW) created a UV ink-on-cement quasi-relief depicting Ugallu, a lion-headed bird from ancient Mesopotamian culture.
Indigenous Australian artists share ranging perspectives on religion, culture, and spirituality. Blak Douglas (Redfern, NSW) explores their frustration with embracing the religion of colonialism in Three Strikes and You’re Out; and Jack Nawilil (Maningrida, NT) depicts the burial ceremony of their Balngarra Clan in Bininj (human) bones with paperbark sculpture.
Kirsty Burgu (Derby, WA) features Wandijna, sacred ancestral beings who created the land and brought law, culture, and language in Creation Story; and Deanne Gilson (Ballarat, VIC), whose detailed painting depicts the Wadawurrung Creation Story of South-Eastern Victoria in Karringalabil Bundjil Murrup, Manna Gum Tree (The Creation Tree of Knowledge).
The winner of the Blake Prize will be announced at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Saturday 13 February. For more information and full list of Finalists, visit: www.casulapowerhouse.com for details.
Image: Antoine Veling, Mark 5:28, 2019 (detail) Photographic print on Ilford Galerie cotton canvas paper, 75 x 107 x 2.5 – Acknowledgements: Antoine Veling (Photographer); Ben Ali Ong (Print Technician)