Aged 36, a stark portrayal of an Aboriginal death before custody, by artist FIONA WHITE takes out this year's Blake Human Justice Award, sponsored by the Maritime Union of Australia.
A record 30 of 68 finalists nominated to be included in the Human Justice category this year.
"It is a powerful recognition of how integral social justice is to moral wellbeing," said Paddy Crumlin, MUA. "We are not functional or healthy without an acute social consciousness. In a world becoming inured to human rights abuses it's essential we don't suffer compassion fatigue."
The Blake Prize is dedicated to spirituality, religion, cultural diversity and, since 2009, human justice.
"Fiona's painting captures a human response in the stark face of brutality, as the tazer gun fires," said Paddy Crumlin. "Yet, equally we have the victim enlightened in a sense, his strength revealed in death - an appalling apotheosis."
Paddy Crumlin, who was also recently elected president of the 4.6-million strong International Transport Workers Federation, will present the cheque to the winning artist at the exhibition opening at the National Art School tonight.
Last year's winner of the Human Justice award was Dianne Coulter for Cousin of Elizabeth NT .
Mr Crumlin said the union's engagement with the arts, theatre and film goes back half a century when the Sydney union rooms in the 1950s were also home to New Theatre, a film unit, painters and visiting musicians. The unions support for Aboriginal rights goes back a century.
The 58th Blake Prize Exhibition, featuring the Blake Prize, the Blake Prize for Human Justice, the John Coburn Emerging Artist Award and the Blake Poetry Prize, will be on view at the National Art School Gallery, Forbes Street, Darlinghurst from Sept 4 - Oct 3, 2010.
Media Contact: Paddy Crumlin 0418 379 660