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Personal tribute wins national acclaim


Brigid Veale
26 September 2008
An artwork by Southern Cross University graduate Nadia Narelle Kliendanze that pays tribute to her late sister was chosen as a finalist in this year’s prestigious Blake Prize for Religious Art.

The work titled 'The Garden of Heavenly Delights' was selected from more than 1200 entries as one of 70 finalists in the award, which explores the subject of religion and spirituality. And although it did not take top honours, Nadia was thrilled with the result.

“My brother Kim died last year, and then my sister Fred also died suddenly four months later, and I wanted to create something as a tribute to her,” said Nadia, now a Visual Arts/Photography teacher at Macintyre High School in Inverell. “Fred’s garden, complete with daisies and sunflowers, was one of her great loves and so I created my own garden in her memory.”

Nadia said painting had always been a way for her to explore her own spirituality, among other things, and the work was redolent with religious iconography. As such, it was a perfect piece to enter into the Blake Prize.

“When Fred died I threw myself into my work and that’s what helped me through this very traumatic time,” she said. “But I didn’t want this to be a sad piece; I wanted it to represent what is born from death. It contains flowers from her garden and that of our grandmother, as well as lilies to symbolise death, the seven doves, the Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life.”

It is the latest in a string of accolades for the graduate of SCU’s Visual Arts program, who has had many solo and group exhibitions around Australia since graduating in 1992. In 2005 she was selected to be part of the Art on The Rocks exhibition in Sydney and in 2007 Nadia was the recipient of a scholarship that allowed her to spend two weeks working in the Museum of Contemporary Art, also at The Rocks in Sydney.

Closer to home, Nadia is active in organising school exhibitions in north-western NSW and promoting art within her community.

'The Garden of Heavenly Delights' is being exhibited at the National Art School Gallery, in Sydney, until October 5. The winner of the 57th Blake Prize was David Tucker, with his sculpture A Local Girl Comes Home.

Photo: The Garden of Heavenly Delights, by Nadia Narelle Kliendanze.