Field of flowers to support survivors

More than 8,000 ribbon flowers have been planted on the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Hamilton and Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle, as an extension of the Loud Sky exhibition.

The exhibition, which runs until 21 May 2023, expresses the stories of survivors through contemporary art. These stories were uncovered through the Royal Commission into institutional response to child sexual abuse in the Hunter region in 2016.

All 8,000 ribbon flowers were handmade by members of the community including secondary students from St Pius X Adamstown and St Francis Xavier's College, Hamilton​, parishioners and church members, survivors and their families and friends.

Local artist and art historian, Dr Rod Pattenden, who co-curated the exhibition with Dr Kath McPhillips and in collaboration with the Clergy Abused Network (CAN) and the Lock-Up exhibition space, said the flowers are a sign of hope and an expression of grief.

“The ribbons are being planted in a festive, beautiful, artistic, creative way. And I think for all the hundreds of people who made them, they're expressing a range of emotions and just memorializing, remembering, and celebrating people's lives,” said Dr Pattenden.

“I hope it's a reconciling action, a place to visit to see beauty and to remember the complexity of this story.”

Magda Mycak, Manager of Zimmerman Service, a healing and support service for survivors, coordinated volunteers to make and plant the ribbon flowers.

“The Field of Flowers installation at the Catholic and Anglican cathedrals is significant because it acknowledges what happened and highlights that it is an issue that is not historical, as survivors live with the impact every day,” said Ms Mycak.

“I hope this installation helps spread awareness in the community.”

If this topic raises any concerns for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, DV Connect on 1800 811 811, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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