Rodney Pople: Finalist in The 65th Blake Prize

In News May 19, 2018

Congratulations to Rodney Pople who has been announced as a finalist in The 65th Blake Prize for his powerful work ‘Legacy of Betrayal’ 2017.

Since 2016 Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) has conducted The Blake Prize as a bi-annual event, ensuring the future of this landmark prize. CPAC will maintain the guiding principles of The Blake Prize, continuing to engage contemporary artists, both nationally and internationally, in conversations concerning faith, spirituality, religion, hope, humanity, social justice, belief and non – belief. The Blake Prize presents an aesthetic means of exploring the wider experience of spirituality and all this may entail through the visionary imagining of contemporary artists.

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC), host of The Blake Prize, has announced the finalists for The 65th Blake Prize. One of Australia’s longest standing and most prestigious prizes which encourages conversation about spirituality and religion through art. The Blake Prize is widely respected for attracting artists from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages. Finalists range from leading contemporary practitioners to emerging and self-taught artists. This year there were 769 entries from artists hailing from Belgium, Germany, Greece, Norway, United States and United Kingdom and from every Australian state and territory. 80 finalists have been selected for final judging and exhibition from 12 May – 1 July at CPAC. From these finalists the winner of the $35,000 Blake Prize will be announced at the exhibition launch on 19 May 6-9pm. In addition CPAC will also offer The Emerging Artist Award, an acquisitive prize of $6,000 and the Blake Residency program, a one-month residency at CPAC and a solo exhibition.

Key dates:

Exhibition Dates: 12 May – 1 July 2018

Launch: 19 May 6 – 9pm 2018

Casula Powerhouse website


Rodney Pople

Legacy of Betrayal, 2017

oil on linen

200 x 130 cm

Legacy of Betrayal is a painting about the impact of past abuses in the Anglican and Catholic churches of Australia. This painting features a naked figure in the foreground, a convicted paedophile – a priest – on the left, and the bishop high on the hill.

After extensive interviews with the victim portrayed, a man now in his 50s who was abused as a child by a trusted church leader, I made the decision to portray the subject as an abstracted, naked form. When talking with him about his past experience, the disbelief, pain and trauma he stills feels decades later is palpable.

Yet to this day we have not found an adequate lingual or visual vocabulary to articulate the feelings of vulnerability and psychological impact on victims of abuse. And so the subject of this painting remains anonymous and voiceless. The screaming figure is a universal symbol of desperation, a victim of shattered trust. The bishop who could have saved him has his back turned; the society who might have seen his pain cannot recognise him.

This painting is not critical of the church per se, but does hope to prompt an open discussion about the legacy of past non-Christian practices within the church, specifically child abuse. As Kiersten Fishburn eloquently wrote, “Religion and spirituality remain at the heart of many people’s lives – even if it is to be in opposition to faith-based practice – and the Blake is an excellent vehicle to open up a conversation about these topics”



Expressionistic painter Rodney Pople completed a diploma in Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania in 1974 and later attended the Slade School of Art in London in 1978 and the New York Studio School in 1979 as a postgraduate. Pople has held solo exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and China. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Pople has taught at several institutions including the University of Tasmania in 1984 and the Victorian College of the Arts in 1990. Pople was artist in residence at the Moira Dyring Studio, Cite Interationales Paris through the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1990. He was awarded the Lake Macquarie Art Prize in 1988, the Fisher’s Ghost Prize in 1994 and a National Art School travel grant in 1999. Pople won the Glover Prize in 2012 with a controversial portrait of Port Arthur and the Paddington Art Prize in 2016. His work is held by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; several regional and university galleries and internationally by MOMA, New York.