Presentation Reflection Walk | Presentation Women Mural (Station 3)

Presentation Sisters Mural

Station 3 –

Presentation Women Mural

Location: Nagle Hall, Cove Lane

Audio: Read by Sister Mary Mackin PBVM, Presentation Sister, Head Girl and Dux of the Class of 1966 and Past Staff Member.

Presentation Sisters shared Nano's vision when she said, "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 here in Australia, the Presentation Sisters' journey has mirrored Nano's, seeking to improve the lives of those in need through education and being of service in the local context, whatever that might have been.

"Presentation Women" is a mural by local Perth artist, Mikaela Miller. Commissioned in February 2020 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 four to five week period.

Following a lengthy consultation involving current students, staff, Presentation Sisters and a variety of others, Mikaela's concept documents of the "Presentation Women" mural provides great insight into her inspirations for the beautiful and unique modern mural.

Mikaela explained that throughout her planning she continued to circle back to the question of "What made Nano and the Presentation Sisters relevant in current times, and specifically to the students of Iona?" She asked herself, "What is the common thread that links all the way from an Iona student back to the Founding sisters, or even Nano?" as she recognised immediately that there was a bond that transcended the centuries and geographical distance.

The research and consultation revealed that the answers to these questions were evident in the values of Presentation People who demonstrate prayerfulness, hospitality, service, compassion, dedication, empowerment through education, and a strong commitment to improving the lives of others (in whatever form that takes). Other key findings from her research that helped to shape the mural design included:

  • Finding a way to celebrate the Presentation Sisters, their story, history, and legacy
  • That the Presentation sisters were very ambitious, resilient, self-sufficient, pioneering; with devout Catholic faith and a strong moral compass. Subsequent generations of Presentation women carry these qualities also, which is reflected in the notion that "Iona girls make a difference" through their Christ-like actions, leadership, determination, and sense of compassion.
  • Students and staff, both past and present, have a strong connection with and respect for the Sisters.
  • Inspired by the narrative of Nano Nagle and holistic educational experience at Iona, students expressed the courage to go one step beyond and proudly affirm the Presentation legacy in their time and space.
  • Nano is often depicted in darkness (showcasing her lantern) - but her story is one of light and hope and positivity and it was requested to see Nano visualised in a modern, bright way.

The above sentiments have been illustrated through a series of portraits of 'Presentation Women' that are evident on the mural. When standing in front of the mural, and moving from right to left, Nano Nagle is depicted on the right, several Presentation Sisters in the middle, before moving left towards Iona students, to portray a sequence.

The floral imagery depicted in the mural is significant to Mikaela's work design and she uses flora as a story telling device to indicate both place and identity as well as encouraging mindfulness towards the natural environment and setting an emotional tone for a work. The flowers depict the journey from Ireland to Geraldton to Mosman Park with flower species ordered geographically from right to left (Ireland to Western Australia). On this mural, West Australian flora that is native to both Geraldton and Mosman Park have been included to represent the two main Presentation congregations that were established at Geraldton, and here on campus, at Mosman Park, more commonly known as "Iona". Similarly, species native to Ireland/found in the region surrounding Kildare are used to establish and represent the beginning of the Sisters' journey (specifically the Sisters that came to Western Australia).

Although not evident in Mikaela's research, she thought that the symbolism of Iona (twice) being the land with water either side (both in Mosman Park and in Scotland) spoke to the place held by Presentation Women through history who bridged, traversed, transcended class, time, geography, education, background and circumstance. The values that define them is what makes these inspiring women treasured and relevant among the tides of change in modern times.

This "Presentation Women" mural is a brilliant celebration of the wonderful legacy of our Presentation Sisters, our connection to Ireland, and the hopes and dreams for our current Presentation people; a unique piece of art which can be utilised in a variety of modes on campus and like Nano, bring light to those who pass it each day.

Acknowledgements:

Presentation Women Mural (Nagle Hall) Written Rationale. Presented to Iona Presentation College in November 2020.

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