Human Justice - Blake Art Award

Published: 26 Aug 2009

Judging the artworks of finalists in the Blake Prize for Human Justice, sponsored by the Maritime Union of Australia, is underway with National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin, impressed by the quality of the entries.

The new Human Justice category in the award for religious art is worth $5,000. The aim of the prize is to acknowledge and promote the work of artists who have addressed issues of human and social justice.


Paddy Crumlin sees sponsorship of the art award as another example in a long tradition of support by the union for creative ways of engaging with the world.


“Historically we’ve engaged with activities that offer a perspective in tune with the values of workers and their communities,” he said today.


“Since the great social and industrial upheavals of the '30s the union has been concerned from a progressive perspective with confronting the extremes of violence and intolerance with a more constructive and sympathetic view of what human beings are capable of, and have consistently sought to engage in art, theatre and other elements of creative expression of our humanity.


“In the ‘50s, for example, we developed and encouraged a film unit to measure and record aspects of the struggle of working people with compassion, sympathy and support, a unique commitment at the time that is recognized today for it’s seminal influence” he said.


“The theme continues to play itself out. We were among the first supporters of indigenous rights, and active in the anti-apartheid movement over many decades. After our long opposition to the Vietnam War we were and remain active participants in the renewal of Vietnamese society and culture. A more recent manifestation of our support, firstly, were our industrial embargoes in support of an independent East Timor and ongoing industrial and political activity towards supporting democratic ideals and the preservation of the unique aspects of the culture in the face of enormous challenges. 


“I see this art award as another form of involvement in the construction of personal and collective perspectives underpinning our lives, whether religious or through other manifestations of moral commitment,” Paddy Crumlin said.


Chair of the Blake Society, Rev Rod Pattenden, said he’s delighted with the diversity and standard of entries this year. Of over more than one thousand entries, 88 have been selected as finalists, and 25 of these are eligible for the Human Justice award.


“This year the Blake Prize bristles with ideas. Far more than any other art prize, the Blake Prize gives artists an opportunity to explore their motivations, loves and passionate questions,” Rev Pattenden explained.


“Its very breadth provides an opportunity to feel the pulse of spirituality and its place in our culture.”


The winners of all Blake Prizes will be announced on Thursday 3 September at the National Art School.


The 58th Blake Prize Exhibition will be on view at the National Art School Gallery, Forbes Street, Darlinghurst from September 4 – October 3, 2009.


The Gallery is open from 10am – 4pm, Monday – Saturday. Entry is free.


Further details and a full list of finalists can be found at



Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney