About The Mandorla Art Award
The Mandorla Art Award for contemporary religious art is Australia’s most significant thematic Christian art prize, attracting some of the country’s finest artists since its 1985 inception.
Mandorla (MAN-dor-la) is an Italian word meaning almond. It refers to an almond-shaped halo or aura that we find around the images of Jesus or Mary in Christian art and particularly in icons. It represents the light that emanates from a divine being, or one very close to a divine being. Run by a dedicated committee of volunteers who oversee all aspects of the awards, the not-for-profit Mandorla does not receive any Government funding but does have DGR status. It, therefore, relies entirely on sponsors and the good will of individuals for its survival.
In addition to the main exhibition held in Perth, a selection of finalists will be exhibited at the famous New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery in the popular tourist destination of New Norcia, as St John of God Health Care campuses in the Perth area.
Past winners include John Coburn (1996); Nigel Hewitt (1991, 1992); Brian McKay (1986, 2002); and Julie Dowling (2000) who was named the most collectible artist in Australia shortly after her win. Another notable winner was the much beloved Western Australian artist, Michael Kane Taylor (2004). The 2012 winner was John Paul.
Sponsorship and patronage from St John of God Health Care, the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, and the Benedictine monks of New Norcia makes Mandorla a truly ecumenical award.
The Mandorla Art Award offers artists and the public a new vision that is actually a very old vision, the place of the Christian religion in art. It is the fulfilment of a dream held by a small group of committed Christians, the Mandorla Centre of Inner Peace.
Wishing to balance the largely secular nature of most art seen in today’s galleries, the Mandorla Art Award Committee selects a particular theme or passage from the Bible, Old or New Testaments.
This unique approach among Australian religious art prizes invites artists to think laterally and with sensitivity by interpreting this in two- or three-dimensional works.
Each award sees around thirty works selected as finalists – artworks which challenge viewers to embrace diversity and to view the world through different perspectives and sensibilities.
Fr. Christopher Ross
“Mandorla has allowed me to use my organisational skills, combined with a deep interest in art, especially religious art, to foster creativity and tenacity in the committee.”
Fr. Ross has been an active member of the Mandorla committee – almost since its inception – and keeps the group focused on the underlying religious orientation of the Award. He is a priest in the Catholic Church and a member of the 13th century Florentine Order of The Servants of Mary (Servites).
Dr. Angela McCarthy
“Religious art is critical to how we perceive the Gospel so the Mandorla Art Award’s contribution is religiously and nationally important.”
Chair of the committee, Angela lectures in theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Her current area of research explores the connections between Scripture and art.
“I am very excited to be working with the Mandorla Committee on the 2016 award and can’t wait to see all the different ways the artists will interpret this year’s theme The Resurrection.”
Kristy brings a wealth of visual arts experience to the Mandorla Committee having worked in the industry for more than 15 years. She is a passionate advocate for artists and providing opportunities for them to further their artistic careers.
“As a founding member of the Mandorla Centre of Inner Peace, I have seen the Mandorla Art Award evolve to achieve its current prestigious status.”
Patricia is an art lover and teacher, having taught at schools in England, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia and finally Australia. A committee member since its inception, she engages deeply in prayer and deliberation, helping to ‘Lift Jesus Higher’ through meditation and the arts.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sellick
“Being associated with the Mandorla prize has challenged me to integrate my love of art with an understanding of how the presence of God is mediated by art.”
Peter has a background in hearing research and after a period as a Uniting Church minister is now an Anglican Deacon. He is completing a PhD in an aspect of Trinitarian theology.
“My involvement in the Mandorla Art Award committee enables me to combine my love of art and my organisational skills to assist in developing the award and encouraging artists to produce high quality Christian art.”
Maureen has a background in Social Work and has worked in advocacy, management and policy in a not for profit agency. She is currently Director of Coondle Art Presentations.
After a career in the public sector, Neil has completed a PhD in theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. He currently works at Edith Cowan University in research.
Neil is Mandorla’s volunteer co-ordinator and is always looking for helpers!
“The Mandorla Art Award provides a great opportunity to see Australian artists, across multiple mediums, sharing their responses to christian themes with the broader community, creating a new and often challenging dialogue.”
Michael has a background as a chartered accountant, mediator and director of Government, For Profit and Not for Profit organisations. He has a passion for organisations, who work harmoniously with community in challenging society to nuture healthy growth.