Mandorla is a contemporary fine art award. In conversation with a biblical text, Mandorla invites artists to contribute to the cultural life of Australia.

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 actively fosters a relationship between contemporary fine artists and the writings of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Open to all artists across Australia and held every two years in Perth, Western Australia. With each award a different theme is chosen from the Bible by the Mandorla Art Committee for artists to respond to. This unique approach invites artists to think laterally and with sensitivity by interpreting this in two or three-dimensional works.

Following the exhibition of the Award, a selection of finalists tour the St John of God Health Care campuses in the Perth area and St Mary’s Cathedral. The acquired winner are housed at the famous New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery in the popular tourist destination of New Norcia.

Belief, Vision and Mission:

We start from the belief that these living texts speak to the heart of what it means to be human, to our relationship to one another and to the world that is our home.

We believe that fine art speaks to the human condition, and that the Mandorla Art Award is well placed to invite contemporary fine artists to use the selected theme as a catalyst in their own creative processes. The high calibre of this creative partnership, and the art work produced, make an important contribution to the cultural life of Australia.

“Mandorla is a contemporary fine art award. In conversation with a biblical text, Mandorla invites artists to contribute to the cultural life of Australia.”

Our committee:

The Mandorla Art Award committee reflects our vision, mission and core values, whilst staying true to Mandorla’s history and heritage.

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.

“Beauty and art throughout history have been intrinsic to the belief and worship of Christians and much has been written about this connection. Artists open up ancient wisdom from scripture in a way that challenges the way we think and act. Beauty in the Christian understanding brings us to focus on goodness and the best of human values. The Mandorla Art Award gifts the community with the results of artists’ contemplation of these deep, rich ideas.”

Deputy Chair, Mary Casotti

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, Tania Watson

Dr Tania Watson is Executive Minister at Riverview Church.  She is an experienced executive leader in churches, organisations and boards.  Tania is an active advocate for the arts and artists.

“The Christian Church has a responsibility to nurture, welcome and celebrate the gifts of imagination, creativity and making.  Art has an essential, and an uneasy relationship, with Christian theology and practice, yet it is this very tension that leads us into deeper “wondering” about the nature of God and humanity.”

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, Emily Bowser

Emily Bowser is an artist studying theology at the University of Divinity. She is passionate about the intersection of the arts, especially visual arts, and theology as an aid in sharing the beauty of God and the Christian message with the world. As an artist, Emily works in watercolour, gouache and mixed media and is interested in the history of religious art and iconography. She is also a current candidate in Formation for ordination in the Anglican Church.

“I am excited to be a part of the Mandorla committee as the award continues the long relationship of theology and art as pointing to the beauty and truth of God.”

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, Rhys Machell

Rhys Machell is a musician and minister with over 20 years of experience as a music producer, session and touring musician, and MD. Rhys has worked on countless albums and projects with a variety of artists across different genres and countries, as well as high-profile tv shows (X Factor NZ and Dancing With The Stars NZ). In addition to his music career, Rhys is an associate minister at Riverview Church in Perth, WA. 

“My faith inspires me to make spaces for unique perspectives and worship expressions within my church community.”

Committee, Laura Bezant

Laura Bezant is a BFA graduate from Curtin University who went on to complete her graduate diploma in Education at Edith Cowan University.  She considers it to be an absolute blessing to combine her passion of the Arts and love of education in her role as primary Arts specialist teacher. Laura is also passionate in educating the next generation of teachers and thoroughly enjoys helping them in understanding their creative abilities at ECU where she lectures in Visual Arts Education in Early Childhood.

“I believe that everyone has been created in God’s image with innate creativity and that part of knowing God and knowing ourselves is to explore that creativity.  Art is an incredible way to explore who we are and who we have been created to be.”

Committee, Jon Bergmann

Jon works at the intersection of faith and contemporary culture. Trained in theology and law, he works with a broad range of organisations – including media and arts associations – helping them to develop better leaders and systems so that they accomplish their mission and goals. 

“I am passionate about art, literature and media, and the way in which they express the beauty of God’s story to the world.”

Curator, Erin Coates

Erin Coates is creative producer and artist living in Boorloo Perth. She has worked in various professional arts roles over the past two decades, including as a creative producer, writer for national arts journals, academic and public art coordinator. Throughout her career Erin has undertaken freelance curatorial projects and she also held the role of Special Projects Curator at Fremantle Arts Centre for nearly a decade, where she worked on a number of key Western Australian exhibitions and national touring projects. Erin is a senior adjunct lecturer at the University of Western Australia and she holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

“I am passionate about supporting and sharing the work of Australian artists and the Mandorla Art Award provides an excellent opportunity for artists to show in a high calibre and thought-provoking exhibition context.  I feel honoured to be able to contribute to this award and look forward to working with artists at all points of their careers and from across Australia.”

Media Marketing, Mandy-lynn Van Der Schyff

Mandy-lynn Van Der Schyff is a Graphic Designer with over seven years of experience. She moved to Perth in 2015 from South Africa and finds her inspiration through beautiful native flowers in Western Australia, the breathtaking landscape, and small local coffee shops. She has a Fine Arts background which led her to study Graphic Design and Business Communication. Mandy-lynn currently works part-time as a Public Relations and Marketing Assistant and runs her own freelance Graphic Design business.

“It is a privilege to be part of Mandorla Art Award which has carried its Christian values and expression for so many years. It holds such valuable history. I am excited to work alongside such a vibrant committee and I hope to learn, contribute and add value to its bright future.”