The winner of the 2024 Mandorla Art Award announced

The 2024 Mandorla Art Award has been awarded to West Australian artist Sarah Elson for her work ‘390 Acts of Love’.

11 Jun 2024

390 Acts of Love art piece by Sarah Elson

The Mandorla Art Award is Australia’s most significant thematic Christian art prize, attracting some of the country’s finest artists since its inception in 1985. St John of God Health Care is proud to have sponsored this prestigious award for more than a decade as part of our commitment to caring for all aspects of patient’s and client’s wellbeing.

With a $30,000 acquisitive prize on offer, award submissions had to clearly demonstrate a direct relationship to the theme of Refocus – Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14 (NRSV)).

West Australian artist and this year’s award winner Sarah Elson shared how times of grief and loss in her own life inspired her piece ‘390 Acts of Love’.

"During a time of personal re-focus after grief and loss I felt the importance of making each part of my practice an intentional act of remembrance, love and gratitude,” she said.

“The work, with its assemblage of tiny plant parts and gifted metal pieces, commemorates the fragments of time, memory and love collected over one's lifetime.”

In awarding the piece first prize, the judges explained that Sarah’s intricacy and complexity in her work evoked a sense of care, consideration and curiosity reflecting the idea that love is seen not so much in grand gestures but in tiny acts.

“Its form suggests worlds within worlds, stories within stories, and its autobiographical nature speaks to the importance of family, connection and commitment.”

St John of God Health Care Board Chair Hon Kerry Sanderson AC CVO said she was thrilled to announce Sarah as this year’s winner.

“We put a great emphasis on ensuring our hospitals and services are places that create stimulating environments for all. The arts and health programs in our hospitals and services are designed to accelerate healing and wellbeing,” she said.

“We support participation in arts through art programs and music therapy through hosting workshops, performances and other activities.”

“We also support the development and growth of our contemporary art collection as art offers us the opportunity to engage with our patients in new and creative ways to inspire hope.”

“Some of the pieces from the Mandorla exhibition will go on to be exhibited in galleries located in key areas in our hospitals and I am so glad that our patients and visitors will have the opportunity to see these incredible works of art.”

2024 Mandorla Art Award has been awarded to West Australian artist Sarah Elson

Pictured: St John of God Health Care Board Chair Hon Kerry Sanderson AC CVO with 2024 Mandorla Art Award winner Sarah Elson. 

The Mandorla Art Award is on show at the Holmes à Court Gallery until 15 June 2024.

Following the exhibition at Holmes à Court Gallery, the award finalists will be displayed at St John of God Subiaco, St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and St John of God Murdoch Hospital.

Find out more about the ways St John of God Health Care use art in our care to engage with our patients in supporting their recovery.

Exhibition dates: 

More about Sarah Elson 

Artist Statement 
Artwork: 390 Acts of Love, repurposed electrical cables, unwanted jewellery, and lemel - silver, copper, gold, aluminium, wood, glass, silver hinges, 20 x 33 x 33 cm.

“This work is a meditation on a memory of my father in law that my husband retold to me. His dad asked him (on a long drive up north) to get out of the car and find himself a piece of earth the size that you can make with your hands and to examine every tiny little thing in it. This quiet contemplative act resonates with my husband’s own parenting style and every detail that one focuses on as an act of love, when a loved one passes on. Each of the 390 pieces (acts of love) used to create this work (my own emotional landscape) is gifted with love from a shared cutting, a special find from a neighbours garden, many gifts of growth requiring ongoing care, transformed with the alchemy of gifted bits of metal cast to recreate the colour palette of its earthly origins.”