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At a wedding reception many years ago I was asked what I do for a living, the usual wedding party conversation with strangers. My reply elicited a disparaging response: "So you're a religious artist?! That's old hat, religion is dead!"

One need only spend an hour wandering through the 2011 Blake Prize to realise how wrong that statement is and how relevant religious art can be to today's society. Such a diverse range of artistic expression, some of it somewhat obscure and impenetrable to be sure but most of the work extremely thought provoking.

Linzie J EllisLinzie J Ellis

Martin SharpMartin Sharp

Ernest AaronErnest Aaron

Simon BlauSimon Blau

In an exhibition such as the Blake I tend to feel that using Untitled for the title of a work is disappointing, particualrly if there is no accompanying text in the room sheet; a title provides the veiwer with at least a hint of the artist's intent, an access to the work. Nevertheless one of my favourite artworks in the show is "Untitled", an unapologetic abstract expressionist painting by Linzie Joanne Ellis. As an essay on the ineffable this works supremely well.

Equally successful for entirely different reasons is another Untitled, the black and white painting of a large crowd under intense light by Ernest Aaron. As you approach this work the crowd disappears and the daubs of paint vibrate against each other. It is indeed a most successful metaphor for the transient nature of our existence, as the artist states in the catalogue.

Anne ShefferAnne Sheffer

Tim SilverTim Silver

Zoe Aliu and Christos TsiolkasZoe Aliu and Christos Tsiolkas

Fang Min WuFang Min Wu

Fang Min WuFang Min Wu

Fang Min WuFang Min Wu

I was struck by the aesthetic integrity of Simon Blau's "The relocation of the horizotal on an instrument of torture": such a strong sculptural statement, conceptually profound yet profoundly simple. And who could not be moved by a crumbling portrait looking suspiciously like Mother Teresa made of wood filler by Tim Silver?

Embodying profound meaning within an object of beauty, Anne Sheffer's printed ceramic vessel has a quietly commanding presence. There were many pieces in this show that impressed me, too many to mention here. And some are clearly addressing the more open brief of social justice rather than religion per se. A very clever and engaging work in this field is "Not in her Mother's Footsteps, New China Doll" by Fang Min Wu. I think I laughed out loud when I saw this beautifully executed work.

Certainly Religion has a lot to answer for. Religious wars are seldom about religion at all and even when they are, how misguided is that very concept? In truth the phrase "Religious War' is an oxymoron. One of my favourite art jokes is Beware of the God

Australian author and Nobel Prize winner Patrick White's comments are pertinent here. In a passage from The Solid Mandala his character Waldo, speaking of Religion and the Church, declaims that:
"Myths, evil enough in themselves, threatened one's sanity when further abstracted by incense and Latin, and became downright obscene if allowed to take shape in oleograph or plaster"

But Religion is by no means dead and nor is Religious Art, no matter what religion or lack of you or I may profess to. The 2011 Blake Prize closed today and begins its tour around the country shortly. There is an online version here.


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This blog is where you will find my latest news. It can range from posting images of progress of the current commission to art crit to political or social commentary, both national and international. Anything, basically, that's commanding my attention and I feel is worth sharing with you, my reader. Enjoy. My previous blog can be found at