George Gittoes is the winner of the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize

Australian artist George Gittoes AM has been selected to receive the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize.

Famous for his artistic chronicles of conflicts and social upheavals in war-torn regions and third-world countries, Gittoes, who is currently based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, has said the recognition is a “wonderful and unexpected honour”.

Admired for his creation of the The Yellow House – an artists collective started in Kings Cross in 1970 along with Martin Sharp and Brett Whitely – Gittoes is most well-known his paintings including “The Preacher,” which he painted after witnessing the 1995 massacre of thousands of Rwandans at a displaced persons camp. It won the 1995 Blake Prize for religious art.

Just recently Gittoes established a new Yellow House artists collective in Afghanistan, hoping to bring peace and positive social change to an area battling the Taliban.

Receiving the award is highly respected honour, presented to those who have made a significant contribution to peace with justice, respect for human rights and the language and practice of non-violence – the only annual international prize of its kind presented in Australia.

David Hirsch, chairman of the Foundation, said Gittoes was the first artist to receive the prize.

“George Gittoes is daring, brash and irreverent – qualities Australians identify with,” he said.

“He is also generous, open-minded and compassionate – qualities we also identify with but which have been in short supply in recent years. The Jury felt his unique approach to peacebuilding and social justice should be recognised and applauded.”

Here’s what the Peace Prize panel had to say for choosing Gittoes.

For exposing injustice for over 45 years as a humanist artist, activist and filmmaker, for his courage to witness and confront violence in the war zones of the world, for enlisting the arts to subdue aggression and for enlivening the creative spirit to promote tolerance, respect and peace with justice.

The award will be presented at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday 10 November where Gittoes will deliver the 2015 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture.

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