The Prize

Saturday. In my beautiful Sydney.

photo credit: Landahlauts via photopin cc
photo credit: Landahlauts via photopin cc

Walking into the New South Wales Art Gallery always makes me stand a little straighter, conjures up the feeling of being perhaps a little more intellectual, a tad more educated, cultured perhaps…than if I were walking into a department store at lunch hour.

No different today.  In fact, I’m here at the Archibald Prize Exhibition with my daughter and her husband, on their last week in Sydney before relocating to London, UK, for a while, the home of dignified culture.  (My opinion, but then, I’m English).

And as I walk in and try to decide which painting will take first dibs on my attention and admiration, I come across a dear lady shaking her head and confessing to the airspace…

“Shouldn’t be here”...Curious, I think…and, feeling a little like Alice, I quickly shoot back at her


And I find out that she has become quite distressed over one of the paintings that doesn’t necessarily , in her mind anyway, fit the criteria of the “Archibald Prize” that we have come to peruse.  Why? Because it’s a portrait of a child, dressed, wide eyed and imaginative, in a Super Man costume. It’s creative.  It’s striking.  It’s gorgeous!

Bewildered, I find myself smiling back at her and saying,

“oh yes it does fit the criteria….” (apparently the subject of the portrait must be a politician or some kind of a famous person)

“he’s a superhero”.

Art.  It provokes all sorts of funny reactions, don’t you think? And whether my dear and critical friend understands it or not, she has just illustrated the very thing that is annoying about , I guess, the critical nature with which we often approach art.



WE must put them on everything…when creativity in and of itself is boundary-less.

I’m one who enjoys a good exhibition.  But I also have to be left alone to have my own opinions.  Because it seems that art is a spiritual thing.  Creativity in motion.  A little like music in its way.  And I so admire anyone who can paint and draw and put down on paper how their spirit is feeling at a particular moment in time. Portraits painted and capturing a moment in time….flavoured somehow with the personality of their creator.  No two different artists able to create the same piece, evoke the same emotion out of the viewer. Again, my opinion.

Anyway, it’s personal.

I think that it’s similar with our relationship with Jesus.  It’s often that we don’t ‘fit’ the criteria that the opinions and boundaries of others have us live within, which brings judgement and pain upon us.  Like…being a “neat freak” about our spiritual life.  You know, “everything has a place and everything in its place..”. I don’t think that God is like that. You just can’t contain Him, put Him in a neat, tidy box, and do up the bow.  He’s going to rip out of that thing some time soon, and blow your mind.

And then the opposite.  Those who really have to proclaim that simply everything that happens has a spiritual root.  Even Jesus would have trouble with that, I think.  Because there are certain rules of the Universe that God has set in play, and they go on without any tweaking and even I cannot stop them midstream…it’s natural.

But then there’s the unpredictable.  It’s a phenomenon to us, but just another miracle, another day, another creative thing for God.  Like…when he changes me from the inside out, so that I am unrecognisable.  And it’s good.  And it’s noticeable that something’s happened that has changed my colour, the shape of my character, my outlook on life.

I don’t think there’s any place for boundaries in God. And I don’t mean to play a 60’s mantra…“let it all hang out, people”… But I do mean to encourage you and me to take a step back, survey what’s portrayed before us, and appreciate its beauty or its power for what it is.  And for what it does to us in the moment. The piece that brings peace. A solitary second or two in His Presence can change…everything.

I guess it’s a bit like “art” – the beauty of God is indisputable, and unending…but it really is ‘In the eye of the beholder”. What I love about my spiritual life is that He constantly surprises, continually stimulates my imagination, and causes me to never second-guess Him….because He has His own way of making the masterpiece.

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc
photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

But here’s the twist….the masterpiece is me.  

And I’m never finished. 

Psalm 8: (NIV)

“When I consider your heavens,  the work of your fingers, the moon and stars,which you have set in place,  what is man that you are mindful of him,the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. …

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”


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