Homeless inspire Mandorla’s 2021 winning artist
Maylands artist Britt Mikkelson, pictured next to her work 8200 Souls, which took out the Acquisitive Prize in this year’s Mandorla Art Awards. Photo: Supplied.
Talented Maylands artist Britt Mikkelson has won the $25,000 Acquisitive Prize in this year’s Mandorla Art Awards with a sculptural work representing the volume of homeless people in Australia, 8200 Souls. The award is sponsored by St John of God Health Care.
The work consists of a found blanket, shaped to elicit the form of a human body, which has been pierced with 8200 holes, one for each homeless person in Australia, highlighted by a series of LED lights shining through them.
"Confronted with homelessness almost every day, the challenge for us all is to see the humanity behind the problem: it is easy to walk by and to ignore the person beneath the blanket, and as such the homeless have become invisible; but under every blanket, and every cardboard box, is a shining soul with a story not unlike our own,” Ms Mikkelsen said.
“This unsettling figure represents the homeless crisis, but the work is also a self-portrait of humility. It asks us to be less judgmental, empathise with others and to love everyone regardless of their situation."
Judges for the prestigious awards Dr Sally Quin, Curator of the University of Western Australia’s Art Collection, Dr Laetitia Wilson who is currently Exhibitions Manager for the Janet Holmes à Court Gallery and theologian Dr James Cregan.
“8200 Souls is a beautifully resolved and restrained work. With few elements (the pierced blanket, the suggestion of a human form, and light) it communicates the need for compassion and empathy,” Dr Quin said of Ms Mikkelsen’s piece.
Artists from across Australia were invited to produce works responding to the biblical passage: ‘’He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah: Chapter 6, Verse 8), with curator Lyn DiCiero reporting that artists responded to the theme in various mediums including paint, sculpture, screen-based media and textiles.
The Award for contemporary religious art has attracted some of the nation’s finest artists since its inception in 1985 including previous winners Mikaela Castledine, John Paul, John Coburn, Brian McKay and Julie Dowling who was named the most collectible artist in Australia shortly after her win in 2000.
It is Australia’s most significant thematic Christian Art award.
Ms Mikkelsen says she is emotionally attached to the work and will be sad to see it go. “However, I am so proud to have created an artwork which sheds light on such an important issue, and moreover to have that work recognized by the judges.”
This unsettling figure represents the homeless crisis in Australia: the form of a human body, which has been pierced with 8200 holes, one for each homeless person in Australia, highlighted by a series of LED lights shining through them. Photo: Supplied.