Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre announces 67th Blake Prize finalists
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Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre announces 67th Blake Prize finalists
The majority of this year’s finalists come from Australia, representing every state and territory in the nation.

SYDNEY.- Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre has announced 65 finalists for the 67th Blake Prize – one of Australia’s longest-standing and most prestigious prize.

The Blake Prize is a biennial event that engages local and international contemporary artists in conversations on the broader experience of spirituality, religion, and belief. The selected finalists will show their work at The 67th Blake Prize exhibition on 12 March – 22 May 2022.

The majority of this year’s finalists come from Australia, representing every state and territory in the nation. Many cultures and religions from across the globe are represented in the works, including Mexico, Japan, Iran, the Philippines, Israel and China. The themes explored within the finalist works include introspective explorations of spirituality, the natural world, xenophobia and racism, gender, Australian identity and COVID-19.

“This year’s Blake Prize finalists have delivered an incredible range of artworks, from painting, photography, sculpture, installation and digital media works exploring the wider experience of spirituality, religion and belief,” said CPAC Director Craig Donarski.

“The works in this year’s exhibition express the huge changes the world has gone through over the last two years, as well as the changing cultural mix of Australia's population, our attitudes towards religion and spirituality, and how our artists interpret, reflect, and question these notions via their work through art.”

The pandemic has given many of us the opportunity for reflection and this is echoed in the Blake Prize finalists works. In Ella Whateley’s Prayers for the Dead, Chinese paper is used as a prayer repository, marked with 44,250 painted strokes that represent the tiny proportion of the vast number of people who have died from COVID around the world. The Pyper’s Still Life in the Year of Fear depicts the paraphernalia intrinsic to the COVID experience; and the patron saint of plagues and dogs, Saint Roche, is given a contemporary update with a Western Sydney twist in Chris Longemann’s Cult of Saint Roche.

Established artists featured in the exhibition include Shaun Gladwell whose video work Homo Suburbiensis follows a single figure who undertakes a series of actions in what ultimately becomes a transcendence of one’s physical state of being. Petrina Hicks’ Hercules speaks to the sacredicity of a woman’s right to govern her own womb. Abdullah M. I. Syed explores his own grief of losing his mother in a video work entitled Last Observances, and Khaled Sabsabi’s piece NOT OUR TEACHERS segment 2 features the closing of a Zikr ceremony that was filmed in a small village in the mountains between modern-day Lebanon and Syria.

Exploring Australian identity, history and culture is analysed in some of the works, including Ronnie Grammatica’s Roadside Memorial which looks at the tradition of roadside memorials in Australian culture and asks if they are succeeding traditional commemorative rituals. In SJ Norman’s Cicatrix (All that was taken, all that remains) 147 incisions were made on the skin of the artist’s back, over a ritual work lasting 147 minutes to recognise the 147 Aboriginal people who have lost their lives while in police custody over the last decade. Robert Douma explores the Australian psyche in his work Strayan Idols: The Holy Trinity where the images of Ned Kelly, ‘Breaker’ Morant and Ben Roberts-Smith are used alongside the social media comments of their devotees to highlight Australia’s history of lauding criminals with religious zeal.

The winner of the 67th Blake Prize will be the lucky recipient of $35,000; the winner of the Blake Emerging Artist Prize will also take home a cool $6,000; and the winner of the Blake Established Artist Residency will receive a residency and a solo exhibition at CPAC. Winners will be announced at an official launch event on Saturday 12 March, 2022.

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