A meditative video of a young girl playing in a Turkish mosque has won COFA graduate Fabian Astore this year’s Blake Prize for Religious Art.

The Threshold, a seven-minute video, depicts a young girl playing in Istanbul’s Suleymaniye Mosque against a backdrop of praying men.

Astore stumbled on the scene when he was travelling and decided to start filming. He said it reflects the transition from childhood to adulthood.

"The context of where she is is extremely powerful," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "That particular space would be off limits to her, I'm assuming, once she reaches puberty."

Astore digitally enhanced the video with tendrils of black smoke that mirror the young girl’s movements.

The former Master of Art student is the joint winner of this year’s prize with Fremantle-based artist Eveline Korai.

The judging panel included Associate Professor Roland Boer; Acting Director of COFA Galleries Felicity Fenner; and contemporary artist Hossein Valamanseh.

They described the winning artworks as “distinct in style” and tending “towards the meditative in a world that has become increasingly grim”.

 For Astore, there was a “double sense of satisfaction” in winning the Blake prize.

“I have a genuine interest in religious practice, spiritual expression and ritual,” he said. “To have that acknowledged in such a public way is really satisfying.”

The Blake Prize for Religious Art was established in 1951 and is the oldest prize in Australia dedicated to spirituality, religion and cultural diversity. The annual award is valued at $20,000.

COFA Master of Art student, Hyun-Hee Lee, was awarded the John Coburn Emerging Artist Award for her work Homage, which relates to her conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8732, 0429 416 070