Blake Prize and Sydney Life

I spent the day visiting two of my favourite annual art exhibitions in Sydney “Sydney Life” and “The Blake Prize“. “Sydney Life” is a photographic competition and exhibition held each year in Hyde Park. “The Blake Prize” is a spiritual/religious themed art competition and exhibition held each year at the National Art School. They’re exhibitions I enjoy because they both challenge and entertain.

The Blake Prize, in particular, is a favourite. It began as an art prize for “religious art” in a fairly strictly Christian sense (I think) but has developed over the years to become a more general exploration of spirituality in art. Just about every year I’ve been, there have been a couple of works which I’ve found truly moving.

My favourite this year is a an untitled bust by Tim Silver, though I think it’s the beautiful craftwork involved more than the concept which fascinated me most. Sadly it’s not for sale. Also for the craft, there’s also a wonderful piece where a skeleton has been covered in plasticine and located in the cosmos, with lots of plasticine balls representing planets. And there’s a terrific work by Adam Cullen who has focussed his attention this year on Mary Mackillop.

As for Sydney Life? There’s a lot of terrific works this year, though I wasn’t as impressed as I’ve been in previous years.

The most delightful work is – head and shoulders above the rest – the photograph of the pig at the Royal Easter Show. It’s a great moment in time, it’s well composed, and it has a great sense of fun about it. There’s also a wonderful photograph of a storm front coming over the harbour which is visually spectacular.

My favourite, though, was the image of two Sydney taxi drivers enjoying a meal in the back of a cab at night. I really like it, because it offers an insight into a really significant part of Sydney life (taxi drivers), but also because it’s so beautifully shot, with Henson-like night-time darkness. It’s a warm, lovely shot.

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