2012 Blake Prize Winners Announced

The 61st Blake Art Prize was announced this morning, with two winning works: ‘The Threshold’ by Fabian Astore and ‘Writing on Air – Mantra’ by Eveline Kotai. The 5th Blake Poetry Prize was awarded to Graham Kershew for his poem ‘Altar Rock’.

The two winning works were described by judges Roland Boer, Felicity Fenner and Hossein Valamanesh as, “distinct in style, and yet tend towards the meditative in a world that has become increasingly grim.”

Eveline Kotai, a mixed-media artist from Fremantle, WA, combines technical intricacy with a subtle appreciation of the spirituality that lies beyond the edge of language. In ‘Writing on Air – Mantra’, Kotai has cut up Buddhist scriptures into tiny pieces then carefully stitched them together onto the panels of a triptych.

Fabian Astore is a Sydney based multi-media artist who is interested in the role of ritual in people’s lives. In his winning video work ‘The Threshold’, he skillfully uses digital media to create multiple references that include trails of smoke suggestive of words that dissipate before identifiable letters appear. Set in a mosque, the ambivalent associations of soaring architecture and subtle light and colours come into play in an open space that is appropriated in particular ways.

Graham Kershaw’s poem, ‘Altar Rock’, 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. The Blake Poetry Prize judges described Altar Rock as, “marking a place where understanding and forgiveness are oases amidst a maelstrom of doubt, where poetry presents the final word.”

The John Coburn Emerging Artist Award was taken out be 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.

The Blake Art Prize has been awarded since 1951 and the Blake Poetry Prize since 2008. All works must address a subject of religious or spiritual integrity; a pre-requisite that has drawn much discussion and debate over the past 61 years.

The works of all 57 finalists will be exhibited at S.H. Ervin Gallery from November 9 to December 16, including a public program of events held every Sunday throughout the exhibition, the first of which is an artist talk this Sunday Nov 11 by this years’ winners.

S.H. Ervin Gallery
Sydney
November 9 to December 16

Images:
Eveline Kotai, Writing on Air – Mantra (triptych), 2012, mixed media, 120 x 270cm
Fabian Astore, The Threshold, 2012, high definition video, 6min 20 sec
Hyun-Hee Lee, Homage, 2012, pencil, ink, hanji paper, cotton thread, canvas, 153 x 153cm
Saif Almurayati, Unfolding History, 2012, DVD, 3min 51 sec