Melbourne artist Annette Allman sought to create a symbol of the life story and lasting legacy of Jesus in her entry into the 2016 Mandorla Art Award, a leading Christian art prize based in Perth.
Allman’s bronze sculpture Presence Absence Presence shows the impression of a pair of feet left in a cushion, and is a metaphor for the indelible impression left by Christ after his resurrection.
“The form of Jesus has risen yet a powerful spiritual legacy remains,” she says.
“This bronze attempts to concretise this paradox in an enduring physical form.”
Allman is one of 44 finalists for the $25,000 award, to be announced in Perth on 15 July, which this year challenged artists to respond to statements on the theme of Christ’s resurrection.
She has been a finalist and a previous winner of the Mandorla Art Award in 2010 and a finalist in the Blake Prize for religious art in 2014 and the Blake Prize Director’s Cut in 2015.
“I read all of the statements and thought about it for a long time but the statement that attracted me was the paradox of absence and presence spoken about by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe. Death is absence yet there’s a presence again in spirit,” Allman tells Eternity.
“I wanted to encapsulate it in a painting but I couldn’t do it, so I would go to bed each night and say ‘I need inspiration.’ Then one morning I saw the whole work and all at once it flowed.”
Allman’s inspiration was the basic human quest for comfort in the physical world, which she symbolised in a cushion.
“If you compress a cushion you are still present, and if you lift up – which is what Christ did – you leave an impression but the cushion starts to fill up again, so you leave your traces, and Christ made many indelible impressions and his life’s story and his life’s work will continue.
“I hope it has captured the physical and the spiritual and lasting legacy that Christ left us.”
Emerging Perth artist Jana Braddock earned herself a place among the finalists with Resurrection Reverberations, an installation of individually suspended crosses to symbolise both the physical act of rising and the spreading of Christianity.
Braddock was responding to 1 Cor 15: 3-8: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve.”
“What I was looking at was Christianity globally as a religion and the way it spread throughout the world,” she says.
“The story of the resurrection is such a pivotal point. The first thing people would say when bringing Christianity to a new audience is that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again. I wanted to represent the resurrection not only in a literal sense but as a story that reverberates throughout the globe to spread Christianity.”