The first Redlands Art Prize winner was Imants Tillers, now acknowledged as a leading Australian artist and exhibiting worldwide. Imants also curated the exhibition from 2008 to 2010 and further raised the profile of the Prize by broadening the artworks to include sculpture, installations and video.
The Day of Metaphysical Healing was recycled from a larger work by Tillers completed in 1989 entitled The Pilgrim, which no longer exists. In this work the image of the tree comes from an early 1960s work by German artist Georg Baselitz, who was concerned with the symbolic, the body and the traumatism of the mind. Superimposed over the image of the bare tree the calligraphy seal of Sultan Mohammed Nureddin el Jerrahi al Halwati, founder of the Halwati Jerrahi Order (a Sufi order of Dervishes). Sufism emphasised the mystic, emotional, hypnotic and ecstatic states of divine love and knowledge. Additional elements to this recycled image are quotations from a number of sources including August Strindberg, Akseli Gallen-Kallela and the American artist Howard Clifford. Tillers’ recent post-modernist work deals with themes of identity, displacement and redemption via an exploration of holism and chaos theory.
Imants Tillers was born in Sydney in 1950 of Latvian parents. He now lives and works in Cooma, New South Wales. Tillers represented Australia in the 1975 São Paulo Bienal, the 1982 Documenta VII in Kassel and the 1986 Venice Biennale. He won the grand prize at the 1993 Osaka Triennale and the Redlands Westpac Art Prize in 1996.