Matthew Harding - a sculpture for his alma mater

Former student and internationally renowned artist, Matthew Harding, has contributed to a striking new entrance to St Peter’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland with his outstanding sculpture.

Commissioned by former principal, Michael Blake, to coincide with the opening of the new facilities at St Peter’s, the sculpture was designed to reflect the nature and traditions of the school.

Mr Blake said, “It was important that we chose someone with a connection to the college, as the artwork aligns the patron saint of the school, St Peter, with our Marist tradition.”

Matthew was first approached in 2013 where he was more than happy to give back to his school. As an artist in high demand, this three-year project was one of many he was managing, while completing works in Beijing, for the Australian Government for the ANZAC Centenary and at Monash University.

With the final elements of the sculpture completed early this year, St Peter’s is now home to a remarkable work of art that encourages creativity and invites questions.

“We wanted to draw on our Marist charism as well as the name of St Peter, to signify the importance of Marist spirituality,” said Mr Blake.

Water from the Rock is a Marist text that symbolises the Marist task of forming young men and women with ‘strong minds and gentle hearts’. The term water from the rock derives from the origins of the Marist Brothers where the Hermitage was carved from the rock in the valley below La Valla with the Geier River flowing through the land.

“Matthew utilises this analogy for the basis of his inspiration, combining the pillars of strong minds and gentle hearts. The sculpture depicts a symbolic representation of a rock as strong minds and a gentle heart as the flowing river”, said Mr Blake.

Principal of St Peter’s, Bernard Burgess, said, “The sculpture was inspired by the example of St Peter as ‘the rock upon which Jesus built his church’. St Peter, the fisherman, is recognised as exhibiting all human frailties including a capacity for doubt, being reticent to be associated with Jesus during his passion but ultimately as Jesus’ closest friend and confidant. Peter is a reluctant leader but as solid as a rock when it counted. In the sculpture, the net can be seen as both the net of Peter the fisherman and water flowing from the rock.”

This project is personally significant for both the artist and the members of the school community. As students, teachers and visitors enter the school, they are greeted by a structure that invites them to observe and touch the work, engaging in contemplation and reflection.

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.