An artwork advocating science over faith wins religious art prize
Report SHAUN ELLIS
Collector, The Wentworth Courier November 23, 2005
“There are only two true religions:
scientific method and football,”
James Powditch said after he was
declared the joint winner of the prestigious
Blake Prize for Religious Art on November
A past finalist in the Sulman and Wynne
prizes, Mr Powditch said he found it amusing that his first major win was for
“I didn’t even think I’d get hung this
year,” he said. “I was very negative.”
Mr Powditch’s work, God is in the Detail,
uses enlarged prints of Pelican’s familiar
1950s and 60s science textbooks and covers of religious texts from the same series.
He said he created the work a s a protest
against the inclusion of Intelligent Design
Theory (ID) in school curricula, for which
the Federal Minister for Education, Brendan
Nelson, has controversially given in-principle support. ID theorises that nature
and the universe are the work of a purpose-driven agent – for example, a god.
At a National Press Club meeting on
August 10, Dr Nelson said that if, alongside
Darwin’s theory of evolution, “schools also
want to present students with intelligent
design, I don’t have any difficulty with that”.
Dr Nelson made the comment after
watching a 65-minute DVD sent to him by
the international missionary group, C ampus
Crusade for Christ.
The chairwoman of the Blake Society,
Rose Peterson, praised Mr Powditch’s
work for being “topical”.
“Politics and religion are the two most
volatile elements, along with art, in society,” she said. “The Blake triggers awareness
and discussion. Whether you agree or disagree is not important; it’s about getting
these issues into the open.”
Mr Powditch’s work tied with Melbourne
artist Louise Rippert’s Dance, a grid of
dried and painted flower petals. The two
artists will split the $15,000 prize.
There were few crucifixes or angels
among the 67 other finalists, selected from
465 entries. Other works included a crown
of thorns encircling a metal circumcised
penis, an interactive piece allowing participants to “make your own god”, a
photograph of a Christ-like figure on a
motorbike and another of two “muscle
gods” working out at Bondi beach.
The Blake Prize will be exhibited at the Sir Hermann Black Gallery in the University
of Sydney’s Wentworth Building until