Outback image lights up Blake Prize

An untitled image of a figure bathed in a pool of light with the rugged West MacDonald Ranges as a backdrop was this week selected from a field of 360 entries for the annual $15,000 Blake Prize for Religious Art.

The winning painting - "Untitled Landscape with Figure" by former Archibald winner Euan Macleod - "stands out as a rather conventional, though strong and painterly, abstract oil," writes Australian critic, Rosalie Higson.

"Macleod's enigmatic figure stands alone in the middle of the West MacDonnell Ranges, under a lowering sky.

"The judges considered that the painting made a significant statement about the human condition, and the spiritual power of an eternal landscape", Ms Higson writes dubiously "but Macleod is loath to make a definitive statement about what the painting represents".

Fairfax reporter, Linda Morris, also notes that the painting "is not a religious devotional work, and Macleod was so nervous about questions of its spiritual dimensions he left the painting untitled".

The New Zealand-born artist says "it's about confronting the wilderness, confronting the void."

"For me, it's quite a specific landscape, and even though I find it incredibly exciting, I don't know it very well, it's a very new landscape for me," Mr Macleod told the Australian.

"What I love about it is the harshness, it's a pretty rugged place. You become very aware of your vulnerability."

The number of artists entering for the $15,000 Blake Prize, named for the poet William Blake who believed that "all religions are one", is rising. This year, 360 artists entered and 74 were selected for the final exhibition.

Since 1951, the Blake Society has awarded an annual prize for a work of art with a religious or spiritual theme. Last year's prize was hosted by the Australian Catholic University.

Blake shows spirit of new age (The Australian, 1/9/06)
Blake winner mourns a spiritual wilderness (Sydney Morning Herald, 31/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Euan MacLeod (Wikipedia)
Euan MacLeod (Artloft)

Blake prize opens at ACU Strathfield (CathNews 18/5/05)
Blake art prize winner 'evokes humanity in all' (CathNews 22/11/04)
Poetical ribs take religious art prize (CathNews 13/11/03)

1 Sep 2006