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 emanating from a divine being, or one very close to a divine being.
The Mandorla Art Award is held every two years in Perth, Western Australia, and for each award a different theme is chosen for artists to respond to. See Past Winners for details of previous themes.
An exhibition of approximately 40 finalists is held in Perth where the prize winners are announced. Following the exhibition of the Award, a selection of finalists tour to the famous New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery in the popular tourist destination of New Norcia, and to St John of God Health Care campuses in the Perth area.
Past winners include Mikaela Castledine (2018); Megan Robert (2016); Paul Kaptein (2014); John Paul 2012 and Anette Allman 2010. Other notable winners include John Coburn (1996); Nigel Hewitt (1991, 1992); Brian McKay (1986, 2002); Michael Kane Taylor (2004) and Julie Dowling (2000) who was named the most collectible artist in Australia shortly after her win.
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.
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 of 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 at 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 forty works selected as finalists – artworks which challenge viewers to embrace diversity and to view the world through different perspectives and sensibilities.
Curator, Lyn Di Ciero
Lyn Di Ciero is a visual arts writer, curator and filmmaker who has curated numerous shows since the 1990s, including the City of Rockingham Castaways Sculpture Awards, and the ongoing annual Soroptimist International of Fremantle Help the Homeless Art Auction. She is the publisher of the Artist’s Chronicle, and former visual arts feature writer for The West Australian newspaper. She has also explored filmmaking as another form of storytelling in the visual arts, with her filmography including commissions from the Art Gallery of WA, St John of God Health Care and the City of Rockingham.
Chairperson, Dr Angela McCarthy
Chair of the committee, Angela McCarthy is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Following a long teaching career she is now dedicated to her research students in art and theology, and numerous writing projects.
“Religious art is critical to how we perceive the Gospel so the Mandorla Art Award’s contribution is religiously and nationally important.”
Mary Casotti, Deputy Chair
Mary Casotti is an educator, artist and photographer whose passion for the arts spans many decades. Its genesis saw the arts and religion inextricably link with her vocation and mission for the spiritual and creative education of youth. A love of travel together with a passion for art history ignited a lifelong fascination for religious art.“
“Religion and art are closely connected, both products of the creative, the inspired, or the revealed imagination providing a contemporary snapshot for society. As a long time Art and Religious Education Educator and avid follower of the Mandorla Art Award, I am excited to be working with the committee leading into the 2022 award.”
Treasurer, Simone Micke
Simone Micke is General Secretary of the Council of Churches WA, who create a greater sense of unity and co-operation among churches. The Council has been involved with ecumenical advocacy and social justice works for around half a century.
Committee, Rev John Ward
John Ward is a priest and artist who has always been drawn to make things. He learnt to work with pastels after supporting the establishment of an annual community Art Exhibition in Heathridge. While now working from St Barnabus Anglican Church in Kalamunda, he has fostered community involvement in a number of sculptural projects, culminating in The Hospitable Kingdom, a two metre high illumination of the parable of the mustard seed.
Committee, Connie Petrillo
Connie Petrillo is a Western Australian artist and curator who has completed doctoral studies at Curtin University, attaining a Master of Curatorial Studies in Fine Arts and a Post Graduate Degree in Fine Arts both from the University of Western Australia, a Bachelor of Arts: Visual Arts majoring in Painting and Photo Media from Edith Cowan University and a Diploma in Art Studies from the Perth School of Art and Design. She has over 25 years experience in registration and curatorial management of art collections and has established a comprehensive network throughout Australia. Connie is currently Curator for the St John of God Health Care Art Collection.
Committee, Martin Loney
Martin Loney is a former Director of Mission Integration at St John of God Health Care.
Committee, Rachelle Dusting
Rachelle Dusting is a BFA(Hons) graduate, practicing Fine Artist and Art Instructor from Perth. She is passionate about art education, and is actively involved with the creative community of Hillsong Church.
”I feel privileged to be part of such a dynamic and excellent group of art and religious leaders at Mandorla, and hope to contribute an energetic and fresh perspective for young emerging Christian artists within Australia.”
Committee, Sylvia Grevel
Sylvia Grevel is a theologian, writer, researcher and spiritual care councillor with degrees in social work, Religious Studies and completed post academic training in spiritual direction with the Carmelites. She specialises in the relationship of spirituality and art as a researcher and theologian, is currently a PhD candidate on Innovation of Spiritual Care by the Arts at the Free University in Amsterdam, and has written numerous articles, and a book on the subject
Committee, Simeon Neo
Simeon Neo is a writer-photographer with a passion for the arts, combining her artistic practice and her faith. She is currently leading the Vibe Media Team at Faith Community Church.