12th September 2007
A top religious art competition in Australia was thrown into chaos by the inclusion of two art pieces.
A statue of the Virgin Mary wearing a Muslim burqa and a holographic image of Osama bin Laden that changes into Jesus Christ have created outrage from politicians and church leaders.
The two pieces of art were entered into the Blake Prize. The Australian prime minister said the pieces were insulting and lacked artistic skill.
The Church minister, Reverend Rod Pattenden, who chairs the Blake Society defended the pieces and said his mission was to fuel debate and discussion concerning spirituality in a world that was "cynical, degraded and in crisis".
Reverend Pattenden explained that he did not expect controversy to result from the exhibition at the National Art School Gallery.
The statue of the Virgin Mary with a rosary and a burqa was created by artist, Luke Sullivan. The burqa is considered a symbol of female oppression.
The picture of Osama bin Laden morphing into Jesus Christ is a creation of Priscilla Joyce Bracks.
The Australian Christian Lobby announced that placing Jesus Christ together with Osama bin Laden in an artwork was "a big mistake".
"Jesus brought a message of love and forgiveness that has nothing to do with terrorism," said Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman Glynis Quinlan.
"If the artist is trying to portray any similarity that is a big mistake."