Marist Bicentennial Celebrations

This year marks the bicentennial celebrations of the Marist community.
These paintings are making a national journey, being hosted by Marist communities all over Australia.  The journey began in Central Australia where the paintings were ritually welcomed to country and blessed. They have moved in two pairs – one starting in Cairns in the far north, and one in Perth in the west.  The paintings are being passed from one Marist community to another, spending four or five days in each, and all four will finally arrive in Mittagong to coincide with the arrival there of a group doing a Marist “camino” from St Patrick’s Church Hill.  The two paintings which have made their journey from Cairns are La Valla and May Miracle.
Marist 1.JPGThis painting is of the interior of the house at La Valla that St Marcellin acquired to accommodate the first two Marist Brothers. In this painting, the artist has included a section of the table that St Marcellin built for this infant community as well as some other rustic features of this first house. In the middle of the table is a loaf of bread symbolising the sacredness of the community gathered around the table. The Marist mission to make Jesus known and loved had begun in earnest.
Artist’s comment: I started with La Valla, the interior of the house where Marcellin lived and had his meetings with the first Brothers, and even the table he had made with his own hands … In the depiction of the table with a loaf of bread, I used the old iconographic way of rendering objects in a number of different angles in one and the same picture, giving it all a touch of surrealism. The table is lifted up towards the viewer, showing bread in a perspective different from the rest of the painting.


Marist 2.JPGThe last painting represents the difficult situation that the first community of Marist Brothers had in establishing the school at the Rocks, in Sydney in 1872. Put simply, the students were undisciplined and out of control! It was not until the Brother in charge invited the students to build an altar to Mary and to pray to her daily during the month of May, that things turned around. You will notice that the chaotic bottom of the painting quickly gives way to the more ordered church stained glass windows. The bright golden intrusion of colour from the top left hand corner suggests that this change of attitude and behaviour was a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Marist mission to make Jesus known and loved had come to birth in this young colony in Australia.  
Artist’s comment: In reflecting this ‘miracle’, my painting starts with forms and shapes alluding to the chaos, rebellion, defiance, disorder, youthful shenanigans. From there the structure of the church, a symbol of discipline and respect, grows into  an ordered grid shaped as a church with many segments as stained-glass windows, culminating in a gothic top to be more church-like, yet, without being overly illustrative about that … The giant shaft of Divine light with the Holy Spirit (a traditional way this is depicted in icons) descends on a diagonal from the left and enters the area of the church with its segments/windows. This ray of light is full of most vibrant energy; its effervescence and exuberance is dispersed throughout the whole painting.