Images of Religious Significance in Recent Australian Art


  • Rod Pattenden


One of the aims of this conference is to sponsor a more active relationship between the various forms of artistic expression. It is therefore with some trepidation that I begin this analysis of present themes in the visual arts with a literary reflection. From the unlikely source of Rudyard Kipling comes this observation on the difficult relationship between religion and the arts: Our Father Adam, sat under a tree and scratched with a stick in the mould And so, the first rude sketch that the world has seen was joy to his mighty heart. Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves It's pretty, But is it art? The relationship between the visual arts and religion lies in a geography more like a battlefield. Apart from the current debates that belie both fields of study in the aftermath of post-structuralist approaches to theories of knowledge, the relationship between theology and the visual arts has been marked more by a war of images than by peaceful co-operation.