The Mary MacKillop mural worth a thousand stories

Kaylah Joelle Baker

East Melbourne’s Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre unveiled a long-awaited mural on September 7 during an intimate gathering to celebrate the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s 120 years of service at the same location.

The mural was designed and created by Hullabaloo Studios’ Christine Sage and Regina Byrne who have continued to produce an expansive amount of work, particularly in the form of bronze sculptures, for Catholic schools around Australia.

In attendance at the unveiling were the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Archbishop Peter Comensoli, the artists, and students from Thomas Carr College.

“The actual opening was so special as we were celebrating and recognising 120 years of the work of the Sisters on this site which started with giving women on the streets accommodation,” Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre director Ted Javernik said.

“The work of Hullabaloo Studios is amazing, and we are just so appreciative they did this for us at our particular time in need.”

The mural speaks to the ministry of the Sisters of St Joseph in various places around the city and state, and provides further insight into Mary MacKillop’s life in Melbourne through combining a multitude of images that each have a story behind them.

To engage viewers with the stories further, a sheet with QR codes linked to each image is provided so people can listen to short audio recordings associated with the selected image.

Stories range from Mary’s birth and parents to stories about poor women with children who have found help from the Sisters, and letters sent from Mary MacKillop to her Sisters during her travels via horse and buggy.

“Each lens [image] gives you something quite unique about the time, the places, the people and what they contributed,” Mr Javernik said.

The mural has been a project more than 12 months in the making for the centre with all the Sisters, educators and historians, front-of-desk and secretary staff working together to make it a thorough teaching resource for young students and museum visitors.

The outdoor car park space where the mural is set up also allows the centre to have larger school groups come through – something that was harder during COVID when they only had indoor museum spaces available.

“It was set up because when COVID happened we needed to have smaller groups of children because there weren’t enough spaces,” Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre Sister Patricia Williams said.

“Now we have created another space to be able to have them, and we have a whole range of activities for them to do.”

When students come to see the mural, they are also given an activity sheet with 13 options for them to work through.

Tasks include creating their own lens, reflecting on the audio and what they are doing to help someone else, and making a bookmark.

The intention for the mural and the associated activities is for schools groups and visitors to be able to self-direct themselves through the work.

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre relies on minimal resources to share its message of hope, and it is through this new addition to the centre that it will be able to continue to educate students from next term. •

Like us on Facebook