The Saint John’s Bible Student Exhibition Artwork Winners

May 28, 2014 – 2:39 pm

How does the Bible speak to you? First-year visual arts students were invited to view The Historical Books volume of The Saint John’s Bible. They were then issued with a challenge to create a contemporary painting inspired by the text and illustrations contained in the work. 110 paintings were produced. 40 were displayed in the Strathfield Campus Library.

Five of the best artworks were then selected to win prizes by a panel of University staff including: Dr Dermot Nestor (Head of School, Theology), Ms Jeannette Siebols (Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts), Ms Monica Wondracz (Manager, Coop Bookshop), Medwenna Buckland (Liaison Librarian, Theology) and Maria El-Chami (Liaison Librarian – Arts). The standard of artworks was very high. The ACU Library would like to thank all students who participated in the exhibition for their contribution. Over the next few weeks, we will showcase interviews with the winning artists.

The winner of the Theology prize is: Stephanie Hili for her painting The S.S. Anne.

1.    Can you tell us a little bit about your artwork?
S. S. Anne is a contemporary take on the story Noah’s Ark from the Bible. The animals are represented by Pokemon, hence two of each, and the title of the work is actually the name of a cruise ship that is featured in the original videogames, referencing the ark. The final square in the artwork is the Rainbow Badge which can be won in the videogame after completing certain events. I put this in as a reference to the rainbow that appears after the flood recedes.
I wanted to do a work that would represent the passage in a unique way that could be understood by a multitude of people. I didn’t want to do something generic.

2. How did The Saint John’s Bible inspire you to create this work?
2a) Were you inspired by a particular Bible passage?
Genesis 5:32-10:1
2b) If yes, what was special about this passage?
In primary school, besides the Nativity story, the parable of the mustard seed and Noah’s Ark were the only two stories that really stuck with me.  I’ve always loved Noah’s Ark and animals and I wanted to do something to express that.
2c) Did the style of the artworks in any part of the Saint John’s Bible influence the style you have chosen?
I think that the overall intricate detail and bold colours used in the artworks in the bible were the strongest influence on my work. It really stood out to me as in the bibles that I’ve seen, the pictures are usually very basic and bland.

photo of Stephanie Hili and her winning artwork The SS Anne

Stephanie Hili and her winning artwork The SS Anne

3. So, what’s your creative process like? Do you have a special painting ritual?
I don’t really have any rituals but I love painting on the floor, I don’t think there’s anything better than getting on top of your work and getting as close as possible. I also like cleaning up as I go- I can’t stand working around mess.

4. Who’s your favourite artist? If you could ask them one question what would it be?
I have way too many but I have always loved Marcel Duchamp. I would love to know what he was thinking when he decided to use ready-made objects and call it art. I think he’s fascinating and a complete genius.

5. What advice would you give a painter who is struggling with their artwork?
Embrace your mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve panicked over a line I didn’t plan or a colour gone wrong only to have it pave the way for an artwork I actually like haha. It’s ok to make mistakes and, as an artist, I believe that mistakes are the best learning tools in an artist’s practise; a lot of the time they’re not as devastating as you think.

Stephanie Hili and Dr Dermot Nestor, Head of School, Theology

Dr Dermot Nestor, Head of School, Theology and Stephanie Hili

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