Sunday, September 5, 2010


Cath News report: Brisbane artist Leonard Brown, who has been ordained in the Russian Orthodox Church - and once sang on stage with the Bee Gees - has won the prestigious $20,000 first prize in Australia's annual Blake Prize for religious art.

Brown's painstaking and deceptively simple abstract painting If You Put Your Ear Close, You'll Hear it Breathing pipped other more graphic and controversial works, including pedophilia in the Catholic Church (Rodney Pople) and racism (Fiona White, who won the $5000 prize for human justice), said a Sydney Morning Herald report.
The three judges described Brown's as ''a work with an enormous spiritual presence [and] outstanding visual intelligence''.
Brown, 61, laughs off his appearance with the Gibb brothers (he was only 11) and says he has stepped back from ecclesiastical duties. ''But there's no such thing as an ex-priest,'' he declares. ''With theology, as with art, there's no retirement.''
He converted to the Russian Orthodox Church from Anglicanism in 1974, and still paints traditional Byzantine icons for churches and private individuals, though not for public viewing. It's a completely different discipline to his work as an exhibiting artist.
''When I am working liturgically, I am like a scribe in an ancient scriptorium transcribing a scripture,'' he says. ''There are things which cannot be altered. Ego has to be left at the door.''
By contrast, works like the one which won the Blake ''are my own personal poetry, the images are not liturgical''.

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