Sydney-based Balinese Australian artist Leyla Stevens has won the $35,000 66th Blake Prize, one of Australia’s longest running and most prestigious arts awards.
The three-person judging panel of Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Maud Page and Kumi Taguchi selected Stevens’ video work 'Kidung/Lament', tracing of Bali’s histories of political violence and the complex manifestations of these concealed pasts, from a field of 86 finalists.
Hazelbrook resident Eddie Abd took home the $6,000 Blake Emerging Artist Prize for her work 'In Their Finest', a video piece combining long exposure Victorian death portraits with the traditional textiles of Greater Syria. Zanny Begg of Bulli was awarded the Blake Established Artist Residency and Exhibition for her video work 'Stories of Kannagi', which looks at the impact that colonisation and civil war has had on Tamil communities living outside of Sri Lanka.
CPAC director Craig Donarski says, “Not only do these winning works speak to the incredible talent we have in Australia, they are also a shining example of how the rich diversity of cultures that make up our society can provide us with unique perspectives and powerfully moving artworks. The whole exhibition is a fascinating snapshot of the state of belief now: passion, anger, ecstasy, reflection, trauma and doubt, leavened by moments of wit, humour, beauty and playfulness.”
Now open to the public, the Blake Prize exhibition includes works by First Nations Australians including Redfern-based Blak Douglas, who tackles the colonial influences of religion in this n country. WA artist Kirsty Burgu’s ‘Creation Story’ depicts Wandijna, sacred ancestral beings who created the land and brought law, culture, and language. Northern Territory sculptor Jack Nawilil depicts a Balngarra Clan burial ceremony with Bininj (human) bones wrapped in paperbark.
The show also includes a video installation by Zanny Begg, ‘Stories of Kannagi’, that explores the impact of civil war on members of the Western Sydney Tamil community. Antoine Veling’s ‘Mark 5:28’ captures Iggy Pop in a moment of pure ecstasy during a gig at the Sydney Opera House that resembles a religious oil painting. Also check out Mehwish Iqbal’s embroidery series, ‘Tombstones’, drawing inspiration from Sufi poets Rumi and Bulleh Shah.