Chasing the Blake

Chasing the Blake


Sunday, June 1 at 10.15pm on ABC1

Chasing The Blake, follows four artists through one of Australias oldest and most controversial art awards, the Blake Prize for Religious Art to see how God can speak to us through art.

Gods artists have traditionally worked with images of the crucifix, Mary or Jesus, or created golden Buddhas or elaborate sculptures.

Australias Blake Prize for Religious Art was established in 1951 by a Catholic Jesuit priest and a Jewish lawyer to push the boundaries of contemporary religious art. Both deplored the sentimental religious art found in places of worship at that time.

The prize was named after William Blake, an 18th century English poet, mystic and painter; an eccentric outsider whose works shocked and defied convention. And from the start the Blake generated controversy. The abstract and experimental works shocked churches and those more used to traditional religious imagery. The Blake Prize invites artists to explore ďreligious awareness and spiritualityĒ. Its left to the artists themselves to decide what this is. Todays entrants explore spiritual, political and pop iconic ideas ranging from conflict in the Middle East to Jesus living in modern Australia.

Compass brings you the story of the Blake by following four artists: Phil George, Marisa Purcell, Rodney Pople and Margaret Ackland, through the 2007 competition. All will make it through as finalists. And one will be highly commended.

Their works are varied and they themselves provide a fascinating insight into the making of modern religious art. Compass also follows the judging process, providing a further tantalising glimpse into the selection process as the judges wrestle with the works and each other.

Compass is screening this program on Sunday 1 June 2008, four weeks before the close of entries for this years prize (deadline: 27 June 2008.)