How ‘Lament’ inspired art for the heart, mind and soul

Biblio Art Prize image
Julie Keating’s artwork ‘Ned’s Lament’, inspired by Nicole Kelly’s book, Lament.

Nicole Kelly’s novel, Lament was recently chosen as part of the 14th Port Fairy Biblio Art Prize competition run by Blarney Books and Art.

Each year, organisers of the competition select books to act as a point of inspiration for artists who enter the annual event.

Artists are allocated a random book which they are required to read, which then acts as a catalyst for their art.

‘I was so excited to find out Lament had been chosen and would inform a piece of visual art.  It’s wonderful to see someone else’s interpretation of my words and story,’ said Kelly.

Victorian artist Julie Keating was allocated Lament and set to work on creating her interpretation of Nicole’s re-telling of the Ned Kelly story.

Nicole wasn’t sure what to expect and says the whole experience exceeded her expectations.

‘Julie created an amazing oil painting which she titled ‘Ned’s Lament’ and really got to the heart of the book.’

‘I loved that she used the iconic helmet and that the shamrock were tears.  It was very melancholic and captured a real mood in the book,’ said Kelly.

‘Crying shamrocks – this piece evokes the same hope and sadness as the story of Lament,’ she said.

After reading Lament, Keating created her luminous version of Ned Kelly’s metal mask, adding her own words to what the process of creating the art meant to her.

‘Just for a little while, a suspended moment full of action, I believed in Ned and his plan for himself and others. I saw his vision, his dream of the safety of returning to Ireland, of his coming home.’

The Biblio Art Prize was established by Blarney Books and Art in 2009 as a vehicle for highlighting the importance of supporting Australian authors and to encourage the distribution of books into places they might not otherwise be seen or picked up.

Blarney Books and Art want readers to know that it doesn’t matter whether you purchase a book from their store, or borrow from a library, because authors receive royalties each time a book is borrowed.

Competitions like the Biblio Art Prize have been created to get more books into more people’s hands.

‘Having independent booksellers, like Blarney, champion your books, and authors in general, is wonderful,’ said Kelly.

Artists from Australia and New Zealand participated in the competition which was open to amateur, professional, young and mature-aged artists using any kind of art medium. 

Blarney Books and Art are proud supporters of the competition and hope that it will encourage writers and artists to seek more opportunities to cross-promote their work, helping ensure that Australian written and visual stories are promoted and shared with the wider community. 

You can read the book that inspired the remarkable artwork, ‘Ned’s Lament’, here.

Front cover: Lament

Learn more about author Nicole Kelly here.

Visit Blarney Books and Art for more information on the Port Fairy Biblio Art Prize competition here.

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