Wednesday, December 9, 2009

58th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition

Above: (l to r) Mrs Penny Hawker, Hon David Hawker MP, exhibiting artist Dianne Coulter and Gallery Director Anthony Camm; Mr Hawker addressing the audience at the opening.

We were very pleased to welcome Member for Wannon, the Hon David Hawker MP, to officially open the 58th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition last Saturday afternoon. The exhibition comes to Ararat direct from its unveiling in Sydney. We also welcomed Blake Prize Finalist and Winner of the inaugural Human Justice Award, Dianne Coulter, who provided closing remarks.

Presented by the Blake Society, named after the visionary artist and poet William Blake, the Blake Prize was established in 1951 to encourage artists to create significant works of art with religious content. Today the Blake Prize attracts fresh, contemporary expressions of spirituality, with artists extending the envelope to encompass a wide diversity of religious expression that make up the landscape of belief in Australia.

The touring exhibition features the work of 30 finalists including the winning work 'Rapture (silent anthem)' – a silent video created by Angelica Mesiti. Filmed from a concealed position under the stage at the Big Day Out music festival, Mesiti’s video captures the ecstatic faces of young music fans and intriguingly connects a contemporary cultural moment with art historical references and Christian iconography.

The Gallery is pleased to be the exclusive Victorian presenter of this exhibition and anticipates strong attendances due to the Blake Prize’s high profile as one of Australia’s leading art prizes. The exhibition continues until 16 January 2010.

Raku Pottery Workshop

Above: Raku workshop photos by Lee Albert

On Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November eight dedicated participants joined in an intensive two-day Raku pottery workshop hosted by Ararat Regional Art Gallery. The workshop was presented by accomplished local potter John Eagle and offered a hands-on introduction to the ancient Raku pottery process – an area of ceramics production actively pursued by John for almost 40 years.

Following a demonstration about how to construct a kiln, participants were quickly immersed in the fascinating process of waxing and glazing ceramics. Beginners had the opportunity to glaze a range of pots and tiles that John had prepared earlier. More experienced participants brought their own pots and sculptures with them ready for glazing and firing. The participants had an opportunity to experiment with a range of glazes made from John’s recipes containing different metal oxides.

The pieces created over the weekend were all incredibly varied and it was especially fascinating to observe how seemingly random occurrences in the firing process led to amazing effects and colour variations. The weekend concluded with workshop participants selecting their favourite pieces for inclusion in a group exhibition at the Gallery, which will continue until 20 December 2009.

John’s recent Raku exhibition and workshop, together with the current resulting workshop group exhibition, have been presented as part of the state-wide celebration of Ceramics Victoria’s 40th anniversary. Thank you to John for sharing his expertise and enthusiasm for pottery and also for generously donating proceeds from artwork sales from his recent Raku exhibition to support future Gallery acquisitions.