December 11, 2018

'The Offering', Monte's Newest Artistic Expression of Mercy

It is with great privilege and pride that Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney installed and blessed their newest significant artistic expression of Mercy – a bronze sculpture of Catherine McAuley, on September 21 at the College’s Mercy Day celebrations.

The sculpture is an interpretive work, exploring the history and charism of Catherine McAuley, bringing her story to life for the Monte community.

The Offering depicts the simple gesture of selflessness as Catherine is seen offering her shawl from her own shoulders, to gift it to someone in need. In a letter to Sister Teresa White in 1838, Catherine wrote that she “would rather be cold and hungry than the poor... should be deprived.” Catherine’s concern for those in need was at the very heart of this message - that proof of love is deed.

The Offering was an 18-month project created by sculptors Meliesa Judge and Will Kuiper of Liquid Metal Studios, Adelaide (the second of this sculpture, the first commissioned by All Hallows’ School in Brisbane).

As there were no portraits painted or drawn of Catherine in her life time, The Offering, was informed by; a much-copied portrait of Catherine’s niece who is said to have had a strong likeness, and an early nineteenth century reference written by Sr Clare Augustine Moore who described Catherine McAuley as being;

‘...dressed in black British merino which according to the fashion of the time fitted tight to her shape. She was remarkably well made, round but not in the least heavy. She had a good carriage; her hands were remarkably clumsy, very large with broad tips to the fingers and short square nails. She was very fair with a brilliant colour on her cheeks, still not too red. Her face was a short oval but the contour was perfect. Her lips were thin and her mouth rather wide, but there was so much play and expression about it that I remarked it as the next agreeable feature in her face. Her eyes were light blue and remarkably round with the brows and lashes colourless, but they spoke. Her nose was straight but thick. She wore bands made from her own back hair which were so well managed as to be quite free from the disagreeable look bands of this kind usually give. The colour was pale golden not in the least sandy, very fine and silky.’

A life model was chosen who fitted the description of Catherine’s physical stature and her facial characteristics. Working in the tradition of the old masters, the body is hand sculpted precisely (even down to fingerprints), as a completely unclad form, before any details or clothes are modelled into place.

Catherine stands in the College grounds with purposeful intention, with her gaze looking both directly at all who walk past, and to the need that calls beyond the College gates, ready to gift her shawl to any stranger or friend in need

Messages to: Catherine Elliott - Community Relations Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College

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