Queenie McKenzie and the Spirit of Mary MacKillop

Art in our churches is generally quite static.  The way art is used in aboriginal communities is often very different.  The Creation or Gospel story will be painted and then the work of art is used in the liturgy or in the classroom to proclaim the scriptures.  The artist holds the painting and tells the story as shown in the painting.  For this example we return to Warmun (see George Mung Mung, Mary of Warmun on this website).  We turn to one of Australia’s most well-known and respected aboriginal artists, Queenie McKenzie (c. 1915–1988).  This work was painted in 1994 at the time of Mary MacKillop’s beatification.

Continue reading “STORYTELLING IN PAINT”


Windows for God’s LightWindows for God’s Light

During two thousand years of Christianity, one of the more identifiable ‘archetypal’ forms of ecclesiastical architecture is that of the Gothic cathedral.  The term ‘Gothic’ in relation to architecture is associated with light, due to a number of influential structural and stylistic features, namely, pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses which stabilised the structure.  These lessened the need for masonry walls and enabled the insertion of large, stained glass windows. Continue reading “SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL, BENDIGO”


The Religious Art of Jan Hynes

Jan Hynes is a contemporary artist living and working in Townsville, Queensland.  She has painted many gospel stories in bright modern colours setting them in Townsville: in the Visitation, Mary and Elizabeth meet over coffee and mudcake; the Nativity is set, not in a stable, but in a service station with Joseph shown as a tradie and Mary carrying the shopping (see detail, left); she shows the adoration of the Magi on the Strand with Jesus being pushed in a stroller.  Rooted in the local, Hynes situates the bible scenes in her neighbourhood on the coast of Queensland.  Images of local plants, birds, and views of Magnetic Island establish a distinctively Australian context for us to rethink the gospel narrative. Continue reading “THE SCANDAL OF BARE FEET”


The traditional art of making an icon is an exacting process requiring much skill and knowledge that can only be acquired over a long period of dedicated commitment to the art.  The method that aligns best with the essence of the icon is classical painting with egg tempera, a technique of unknown origins from deep within the ancient world.  Adopted and perfected by the icon painters of the early church in Byzantium, the technique has been passed down almost without change to be employed by the few icon painters in our age whose practice remains true to the tradition. Continue reading “THE SACRED ART OF THE ICONOGRAPHER”


The Art of William Robinson

Standing awestruck before a mountain, [the mystic] cannot separate this experience from God, and perceives that the interior awe being lived has to be entrusted to the Lord. “Mountains have heights and they are plentiful, vast, beautiful, graceful, bright and fragrant.  These mountains are what my Beloved is to me.  Lonely valleys are quiet, pleasant, cool, shady and flowing with fresh water; in the variety of their groves and in the sweet song of the birds, they afford abundant recreation and delight to the senses, and in their solitude and silence, they refresh us and give rest.  These valleys are what my Beloved is to me.” Continue reading “CREATOR GOD AND CREATION”


Dr Rebekah Pryor is a visual artist and writer living and working on Boonwurrung/Bunurong Country southeast of Melbourne, Australia.  She was a finalist in the 2018 Blake Prize and, from 2015-2018, the curator of Lamppost Gallery, a space dedicated to exploring contemporary art and Christian spirituality.  She is an honorary postdoctoral associate at Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity.  In 2021 she coedited Contemporary Feminist Theologies: Power, Authority, Love (Routledge) and her forthcoming book Motherly: Reimagining the Maternal Body in Feminist Theology and Contemporary Art is due for publication in early 2022. Continue reading “HOLY MYSTERIES”


Arthur Boyd’s wife, Yvonne, commented that Arthur was very fond of Saint Francis.  This was undoubtedly true and yet in his perceptive and idiosyncratic way our artist turns the medieval legend on its head.  The saint’s values of human brotherhood, non-materialism and engagement with nature are preserved, while the proselytising and, in Boyd’s eyes, control over others is sternly rejected.  The medieval Francis felt himself to be divinely inspired while Boyd in the 20th century was alone with his fragile yet dogged sense of his own humanity. Continue reading “ARTHUR BOYD AND SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI”