Nagle Hall Mural

Location: Nagle Hall

Totem Text: Presentation Sisters shared Nano's vision, "If I could be of any service in saving souls in any part of the globe, I would willingly do all in my power." From Ireland and then locally, the Sisters' journey has mirrored Nano's, seeking to improve the lives of the those in need through education and being of service.

About the Art

"Presentation Women" is a mural by local Perth artist, Mikael Miller. Commissioned by then Iona Principal, Mrs Anne Pitos, the mural was to represent a celebration of and the continuation of the Presentation legacy by the Sisters.

The mural was painted in-situ in October 2020 (Term 4) by Mikaela, allowing students to see the artwork come together over a 4-5 week period. The artwork used durable exterior painted on a compressed cement fireboard base.

From Mikaela's Concept document:

"Something that I personally continued to circle back to throughout the research, was what made Nano and the presentation sisters relevant now, and specifically to the students of Iona? What is the common thread that links all the way from an Ionian girl back to the founding sisters, or even Nano - because there definitely seemed to be some sense that there was a bond that transcended the centuries and geographical distance.

The research and consultation definitely revealed that center of this was the values of presentation people - hospitality, service, compassion, dedication, empowering through education, and commitment to improving the lives of others (in whatever form that takes). To pull that apart further though, some key points that came up included:

  • celebrating the presentation sisters, their story, history, and legacy (esp. as there aren't likely to be many future generations of actual 'Sisters'
  • that the sisters were very ambitious, resilient, self-sufficient, pioneering - subsequent generations of presentation women carry these qualities also. Esp. "Iona girls make a difference" - leadership, determination, compassion
  • students have a strong connection/ respect with the sisters
  • The story of Nano, values of presentation people, time at Iona made students feel as though they can go into the world an carry on the legacy of the sisters and the values Nano held
  • Presentation people adapt to the times while maintaining a strong moral compass
  • Nano is often depicted in darkness (showcasing her lantern) - but her story is one of light and hope and positivity, it would be nice to see her depicted in a lighter way.

I thought all of these sentiments could be illustrated through a series of portraits of 'Presentation Women'

Floral imagery is significant to my practice and a recognisable part of my work. I employ flora as a story telling device that can be an indicator of both place and identity, as well as encouraging mindfulness towards the natural environment and setting an emotional tone for a work.

In this instance I have explored WA flora that is native to both Geraldton and Mosman Park - to establish & represent the setting of the end of the sisters' journey landing in WA. The selection of species also pays particular attention to species that fit the colour scheme.

Any with potential symbolic or visual significance:

  1. Clematis linearifolia has 4 petals, not unlike a cross or star;
  2. Eremophila glabra (Chinnock) could be visually comparable to Nano's lantern.

Similarly, species native to Ireland/ found in the region surrounding Kildare can be used to establish & represent the beginning of the Sisters' journey (specifically the sisters that came to WA). Once again, particular attention has been paid to colours that fit the colour scheme and any species that may have symbolic or visual significance:

eg. 4 petals and cross shaped stamen of the Great Willow herb

eg. nomenclature of Marsh Marigold being derived from the Virgin Mary

eg. significance of Yew as a symbol for life in churchyards, and visual similarity of flowers to a lantern

The significance of the naming of Iona after the Island of Iona lay in the comparison of the geography/ positioning at some elevation between two bodies of water. Thus I though it may be interesting to compare the geographical shapes/outlines between the two locations. Although there's potential to get orientations/ viewpoints actually very similar- I found the most interesting angles were those showcasing similar amounts of water in front & behind the land, with "Iona" epicenter (per se) in more or less the same position, allowing a bit of variation between the two landscapes to provide some over-lapping/interesting lines across the wall.

Although not evident in my research, I thought the symbolism of Iona (twice) being the land with water either side spoke to the place held by presentation women through history by bridging/traversing / transcending class, time, geography, education, background, circumstance. The values that define them is what makes them constant & relevant among the tides of change or between different contexts. Thus overlaying these outlines feels pertinent.

Flowers will be illustrated in the background - depicting the journey from Ireland to Geraldton to Mosman Park, with flower species ordered geographically from right to left (Ireland-WA) and transitioning in similar order to the sequence of women. The outlines of the island geography with be overlaid/ interwoven between the floral elements. Portraits will be the focal points across the wall 'over' the rest of the background content.