Canvas Artwork (Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School, Hoxton Park)
In 2020 I was approached by Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School in Hoxton Park (Sydney, Australia). The wonderful team there were looking for a custom artwork that would be visible in the reception area of their main school building. I was humbled to be asked to create an image for them. Creating the artwork was a bit like piecing together a puzzle - a puzzle full of pieces including listening, prayer, transformation and ultimately visual story telling.
To share a bit of the journey, I have listed the creative ‘puzzle’ process below. I hope it connects you to how we can journey as community. Hopefully shining a light on the unconditional and nurturing welcome that our God longs for ALL to know.
1. Firstly for every project, prayer is always my first port of call. The first puzzle piece. Before any step I turn to contemplation.
2. I was aware that I needed to get a sense of purpose behind the artwork and learn more. Posing questions starts a dialogue and builds relationship. Some questions I needed to know included:
WHY - why create the artwork, what purpose was it serving?
WHAT - size, placement, colour, medium? type/style of illustration?
WHO - who would see it and who does the client want to engage with it?
HOW - digital or hand created. Deadline? Budget?
# 3. Returning to prayer I became aware that this project was a good fit for me and our congregation’s work. So, feeling at peace we continued. To move forward the next puzzle piece included learning more about the community, gaining a bit more specific information from students and staff. We were a bit restricted to do to Covid. But, I was able to go see the school, see the space for the artwork, meet with some students, and staff were able to fill out a google survey too. This helped to continue the relationship and dialogue, seeing the faces of the kids and hearing their reactions really helped with understanding.
We looked at things such as:
WHAT did they want the artwork to communicate?
WHAT elements did they want on the artwork? (sheep, birds, house colours etc)
WHAT is an important message at their school?
WHAT makes their school so special?
# 4. Soon I was able to read through the surveys, look at my notes, the schools history, charism, mission and core values - then prayerfully discern. Always returning to contemplative prayer through the process.
Themes and repeating words started to emerge of what was important to the community. As one example; ‘Welcome’ was a key piece to the community puzzle that I kept hearing from interactions and was consistent from all the survey responses.
# 5. After reviewing all the information and main themes I started to write out and doodle all the various pieces of the design puzzle that needed to be included. Thinking about placement of the various items while prayerfully remembering the schools main scripture passage, messages and the whole community.
# 6. With a rough sketch sorted I sent it through to my contact at the school. Continuing dialogue and bouncing ideas off each other was life-giving for both parties. We talked about it and I went on to the next step.
# 7. Returning to prayer, I contemplated the feedback, made some refinements and turned things digital to sketch up a layout. I also created a photoshop mock-up in place on the wall. These were soon sent to my school contact, dialogue continued and feedback was given.
Honouring the story of the indigenous people of the land (the Darug people) is very important. Aboriginal symbols have meanings. To help tell the story, students were also able to draw their own aboriginal symbols to be incorporated like puzzle pieces into the design – didn’t the students do a wonderful job!
(Note: Faces of the students have been blurred for their privacy / protection)
The school is very multicultural so the word ‘welcome’ was translated into various languages that represent the school community. It was great to have the interaction and am very grateful to the parents and community that helped supply the translations.
The school motto (Nurturing Disciples), scripture message, logo, colours, uniform, core values, houses, charism and mission and other pieces where all incorporated.
# 8. This process was repeated to ensure the school was kept in touch along the way. Continuing to put together the puzzle, to tell the story of the school together.
# 9. Eventually we reached a final image. Hurray!
Next I researched and gathered printing options - providing options such as fabric, boards, canvas and papers. We discerned together that printing on canvas was the way to go. I researched and supplied quote options, got a test sample and eventually the final file was sent for print.
The canvas we chose was printed by a local supplier on premium fine art canvas. It was printed with genuine ultrachrome inks that come with a longevity of 50+ years. It was also importantly protected with a polymer coating. The coating has a matte non-reflective finish eliminating reflection, while ensuring that the canvas print is protected against UV fading, dust, impurities in the air and minor scratches.
# 10. The finished artwork is framed with a natural wood float frame, the canvas as a satin finish with a coating to protect from sun and damage.
Overall this project has been a joy and a journey of transformation. I am deeply grateful to Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School (Hoxton Park) for trusting me with sharing their story. It was lifegiving to develop the pieces of the puzzle with dialogue and practical steps forward, creating a full image together. I would also like to thank the Sisters of Saint Joseph for their encouragement and support in this evolving ministry. Living religious life means that I am part of a whole in a unique way, we are listening and transforming together. Thank you also especially to Sr Catherine Trinh that accompanied me to the unveiling. I hope this artwork brings the Good Shepherd Hoxton Park community together in a spirit of nurture and welcome. May it remind us that Jesus is always at the heart of any puzzle, God is always welcoming us all home.
Much love and puzzle piecing prayer