Indigenous art book ‘Our Mob, God’s Story’ wins Australian Christian book of the year

Our Mob, God’s Story has taken out the prize for the 37th Annual Australian Christian book of the Year at a ceremony in Melbourne. The judges called the book “beautiful, confident and irresistible.”

“Sixty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the city and the bush tell the story of the wonderful things God has done for their people. They paint in a dazzling variety of styles and write with uncommon wisdom and generosity. These artists share their vision of Jesus in order to bring us together as brothers and sisters,” said the judges.

Christobel Mattingley, who co-edited the book with Bible Society’s Louise Sherman, honoured the traditional owners of the land in Melbourne’s east, and said, “I’ve been fortunate to work with Aboriginal people since 1975, and I knew many Aboriginal artists … I want to thank all the artists who’ve given their work freely for use in this book.”

Sherman said, “we have many unique voices in this country, particularly indigenous voices, that this world needs to hear.”

Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke said, “thanks so much to SparkLit for this award. It’s a truly wonderful way to mark the work of these people. It has brought the Bible alive for Australians.”

Our Mob, God’s Story takes you on a biblical journey through the eyes of Australia’s first Australians. Published by Bible Society Australia, the book represents an “amazing journey” over five years for Bible Society’s Louise Sherman, who edited the book with South Australian author Christobel Mattingley.

“The book is promoting the influence the Bible has had on our First Nations people.” – Louise Sherman

“It’s been amazing to work with so many artists across Australia,” Sherman told Eternity earlier this year. “The book is promoting the influence the Bible has had on our First Nations people. It will also promote the work we do in translation, publication and Bible engagement.”

Max Conlon, the well-known Aboriginal artist from the Kabi Kabi tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, sees his biblical paintings as a tool to serve God and share Christ. “It’s really good because it engages people, unsaved people, and Christians who are going through struggles in life and it builds them up,” said Conlon earlier this year, one of 67 Indigenous artists who have contributed to Our Mob, God’s Story.

Artist Glendora Naden says of her painting So Loved, which appears in the book, “This painting is based on the verse John 3 verse 16, a favourite verse from Sunday School days on the mission. God loved the world so much that he gave his son to die that we might have life. The groups on the side of the painting represent the people of the world showing all different countries. The top of the painting is the heavenly realm where God is, and a much anticipated place for all believers.”

So Loved, by Glenny Naden

So Loved, by Glenny Naden Glenny Naden

The awards are organised by SparkLit (formerly SPCKA), and celebrate Australian Christian Teen Writer of the Year and Young Australian Christian Writer. SparkLit is an organisation seeking to empower Christian writers, publishers and distributors in Australia.

Tanya Strydom from Queensland won the 2017 Australian Christian Teen Writer Award with her allegory of Christian grace Sir Tain and the Peasant’s Sword. The judges found the writing to be “mature, inventive and polished.”

The 2017 Young Australian Christian Writer Award was won by E.P. George for her challenging and confronting manuscript The Bidura Effect. “The attitudes, faith and identity of a young social worker are transformed by his relationship with an elderly, house-bound Aboriginal woman. Her tragic story is compelling and confronting. This is skillful and high-impact writing.”

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