Published: 8 April 2017
What previously had long been a plain grassed area at the junction of two Villanova college buildings is now a designated Reconciliation Garden.
The genesis of this idea came from a 2015 Villanova Senior student, Mackenzie Sarra, who with who with his fellow Art students soon drew other enthusiastic persons into the project.
By Term Four of 2016 this area between College Library and the Tolentine Building had been transformed into a carefully landscaped and well-presented Reconciliation Garden that involves ideas and labour contributed from inside and outside of the Villanova College community.
The physical landscaping took place over the first nine months of 2016, so that the transplanted native plants had time to become successfully established amidst the gravel and river rocks introduced to the area. The water of the “trickling stream” is recycled by an electric pump. The wooden wall in the background was then especially constructed for the painting of the mural that is now displayed there.
In order to gain further insight into Australian Aboriginal Art, during the design phase of the mural Mackenzie consulted Robert Barton, a contemporary Indigenous artist in Brisbane and a member of the Reconciliation Council of Queensland. The central focus of the mural is the blue-coloured Brisbane River, some students and staff were invited to mark parts of it to represent hope for the communities living along the river.
At the opening ceremony of the Reconciliation Garden a special guest and speaker was the indigenous elder Aunty Joan from the Stradbroke Island Aboriginal Community. An Aboriginal student of Villanova then read a prayer. Mackenzie Sarra, by then a Villanova past pupil, also participated.
The goal for having the Reconciliation garden was summed up in the words of address by Mr Mark Stower (College Principal) at the opening ceremony, “This space honours the original owners of the Land, the Yuggera and Turball peoples, and calls us to be good stewards of our campus… May the Garden always be a symbol of Peace in our midst. May its flowing waters remind us of the Life we have been given – a Life that links us to the Land, a Life that is gifted to us by our God.”
The Reconciliation Garden was conceived in the mutual belief that there is a need for reconciliation in the Australian community. This mural is instrumental in promoting respect and unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. It is anticipated that the sense of unity will promote awareness and understanding within the people who view and reflect upon it.
Villanova College is a school of the Order of St Augustine, located in the suburb of Coorparoo at Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia. The College was founded in 1948 and now enrolling about 1,200 male students from Grades 5 to 12 inclusive. It begins all its assemblies and whole school events with Acknowledgement of Country as a way of sustaining consciousness of the need for Reconciliation in Australia.