Tag Archives: St Peter’s Cathedral

Telling Stories

The St Peter’s Cathedral, a magnificent building standing watch over Adelaide’s CBD, is home to many a treasure. Its grand interior with stained-glass windows, carved woodwork, mosaic floors, and historical banners is the perfect backdrop for the Telling Stories Exhibition.


Julie Haddrick at St Peter’s Cathedral

This is a three-artist exhibition showcasing paintings by Maz Gill-Harper from Tasmania, clay sculptures by Mark Pearce from South Australia, and textile artwork by Adelaide based quilt artist extraordinaire, Julie Haddrick.

The theme Telling Stories encompasses the work of these three artists perfectly.


Maz Gill-Harper’s paintings depicting the parables as they appear in the Gospels are visual representations of the stories told by Jesus to his followers. It contains texts, images and symbols, turning each artwork into a spiritual journey rather than just a painting.

Telling stories as teaching.


Mark Pearce’s sculptures depicting the apostles, grab the viewer’s heart and attention drawing you into the emotional life of each man. They radiate the spiritual path and soulful journey of each of these biblical characters.

Telling stories as a spiritual journey.


But it is Julie Haddrick’s work which shouts with joy. Her vast wall-hangings are filled with colour and life. Using hand-dyed, painted, printed and stencilled fabric, she creates visual feasts depicting God’s creation in all its glory. From the vast work encompassing all of the creation right down to detailed images of treasured feathers.


Julie uses symbols and metaphors to tell her stories. Her work is filled with detail – some of them meticulously sketched with layered fabric like the wedge-tail eagle, others only suggested in the quilted lines on the backgrounds and in the borders.


Julie’s work is influenced by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi which embraces transience, imperfection and the impermanent. She subscribes to the sentiment of ageing gracefully and appreciating beauty in decline. Her treasures include feathers, shells and broken shards of china.

Telling stories as worship.


This exhibition forms part of The Adelaide Fringe and will be on display until March 5, 2017. The cathedral is open every day, with artist talks daily at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.

*All images were taken at St Peter’s Cathedral and depicts small details from Julie Haddrick’s work. Published with the artist’s permission.



Fabric of Life – and love

004 When I walked into Mary Jose’s shop in Melbourne Street for the first time, I thought – so this is what heaven must look like. Fabrics and textiles from all over the world were hanging on the walls, draped over tables, and tucked into shelves. The colour was glorious, but the smell was even better. I reminded myself of what I always tell my children before we go into a shop: ‘This is a hands-behind-your-back-shop. Don’t touch.’ But alas – I couldn’t help myself – I had to touch everything. I stroked the suzani’s, I hugged the kanthas, I caressed the Indian embroideries. I loved Mary’s shop and couldn’t wait to meet her.

Since then I learned that Mary is not just a Fair Trade textile dealer, but also one of the leading textile conservationists in the country, with an impressive list of conservation projects from across the world to her name.

Mary Jose conservation projectAs an Art History student in Canberra, Mary soon realised textiles were her first love, so after graduating, she moved to the UK where she studied at the Textile Conservation Centre, then housed at the Hampton Court Palace. She spent several years at the Textile Conservation Studio where she also worked on the Hampton Court Tapestries. After returning to Adelaide she joined ArtLab Australia, working on conservation projects for different Australian and international museums and galleries. For the past five years, Mary has been an independent conservation consultant with clients across the globe. (The conservation of the banners in the St Peter’s Cathedral is one of her ongoing projects.)

Mary Jose textile collectionIt was a textile tour to China in 1990 that sparked Mary’s interest in ethnic embroideries and textiles, and paved the way for her business venture as a textile trader. She travels regularly to India and other Asian countries where she meets the artisans. Mary is a strong believer in ethical trading and she buys all her textiles from the original artists in their traditional environment, thereby ensuring authenticity and quality. By following Fair Trade principals she also ensures that her business supports community development, self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Mary has recently moved her shop online and her conservation studio to her home in North Adelaide. On the day I visited she was working on a vintage scarf which needed to be cleaned and mounted for a private client; a military jacket dating from World War I which needed some restoration, for a private collector; and a raised embroidery piece which needed professional cleaning, also for a private collector.

Mary Jose book collectionThe walls in her studio are lined with shelves – some filled with her glorious textile collection, some filled with her vast collection of textile and art books, and some filled with her growing range of handmade cards.

These cards are part of a new initiative she recently launched. Beautifully embroidered or printed textiles, designed and handmade by individual artists, are framed with cardstock and made into greeting cards. But it is more than a card; it is an artwork all in itself. Mary stocks several ranges from India and a vibrant range from Malawi. Every card she sells help support an artist and his/her family in an ethical and sustainable fashion.

Mary Jose handmade cardsMary’s house-studio-shop is indeed a little piece of heaven. Not just because of the sight and smell of glorious fabrics, but because of her love and devotion to the origin of these textiles – the history of the old textiles which she respectfully helps preserve, and the future of the ethnic textile traditions which she so lovingly supports. Her love for textiles reaches into the hearts of all she works with – artists, collectors and customers. Mary’s life is not a hands-behind-your-back life. It is a hug, embrace and touch life.

Visit Fabric of Life’s website here

St Peter’s Cathedral – ecclesiastical embroidery


High altarSt Peter’s Anglican Cathedral stands proudly above the river Torrens, looking down on central Adelaide – an apt landmark for the City of Churches. Airlie Black, convenor of the Cathedral’s Needlework Guild and daughter of Thomas Thornton Reed, the sixth Bishop of Adelaide, took me on a tour of the Cathedral to learn more about their treasured collection of needlework. According to the church records the Guild of St Peter was formed in 1885. Among other things, their task was to take care of the altar linen and to make the choir robes. From 1879 to 1900 the Guild of St Paul, a group of expert needlewomen (most of them belonging to both groups) worked on the needlework items of the Cathedral. They made frontals, stoles, altar linen, cassocks, surplices, kneelers and more. Some of their handiwork is still in use today.

Admiring the Santa Ecclesia Banner

Admiring the Santa Ecclesia Banner

The Cathedral has an impressive collection of banners dating from 1895 to 1993. Some of the older ones, now too fragile for use, have been restored and stabilised and are on permanent display. The Santa Ecclesia Banner dating from 1902 was one of those on display this month. Although its richness and opulent silk embroidery are still obvious, it is in a state of disrepair and is currently awaiting restoration.

Santa Ecclesia Banner damage

Santa Ecclesia Banner damage





The Cathedral’s vestments are a sight to behold. Airlie opened drawer after drawer and door after door, revealing the most gorgeous sets of vestments – some old and some new; some with a great story and some who are still earning their story. One of my favourite sets is the Reed cope, mitre and hood. It was embroidered by the Sisters of Bethany in England in 1957 and presented to Bishop Reed by the students of the Anglican Schools in Adelaide. The cope is richly embroidered with a design depicting Australian plant, bird and animal life.

Reed cope with Australian themed embroidery

Reed cope with Australian themed embroidery

Airlie Black with the Noils Silk Mass set

Airlie Black with the Noils Silk Mass set

Another one of my favourites is the Noils Silk High Mass set with Aboriginal-style ornamental bands. It was designed by John and Ross Moriarty and made by Audrey Ball in 1987. According to Airlie, it is a favourite with the congregation too.

Altar of Lady Chapel. Lily themed kneelers visible in lower left corner

Altar of Lady Chapel. Lily themed kneelers visible in lower left corner

Throughout the cathedral, I saw many canvas-worked kneelers and cushions. Most of them have a terra cotta colour background to not compete with the equally beautiful floor mosaics. The set that appealed to me the most were the ones in the Lady Chapel, an intimate and serene space behind the high altar. These were designed by Kaye Lynas and made by the Cathedral Guild during 1986. They feature a lily – the symbol of Mary, mother of Jesus. This design is carved into the altar and is carried on through the linen and needlepoint in the chapel.

Ivory brocade silk frontal with velvet super frontal

Ivory brocade silk frontal with velvet super frontal




The most striking embroidered items in the Cathedral must be the altar frontals. On the day I visited the altar was covered with an ivory brocade silk frontal with a central ornately embroidered cross motif. It was topped with an equally ornate velvet super frontal. These items date from the Victorian era and had in recent years been restored by the Needlework Guild under the guidance of Mary Jose, an expert textile conservationist.

Guidons, colours, ensign and banners

Guidons, colours, ensign and banners

On the left-hand side of the main axis of the Cathedral, around the Christus Rex, below the William Pope window, is a fine display of twenty guidons, colours, ensign and banners. These have been laid up here by South Australian regiments and battalions for safe keeping in perpetuity. They are consecrated objects which were in times past looked upon by the members of their regiment as symbols of safe refuge. They represent a large slice of South Australia’s history as some date from pre-Federation days, some from World War I and some from World War II. They represent honour and sacrifice, and are grouped to show that loyalty to country is senior to loyalty to the regiment but central to that is the symbol of Ultimate Sacrifice.

It is the perfect place to end my tour of the Cathedral. I feel honoured to share in this rich history and tradition, and it makes me happy to know that history, religion and beauty can be brought together with fabric and thread.

With gratitude to Airlie Black who took the time to show me around and share her vast knowledge with me. Some of the information in this article was taken from St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral Adelaide Handbook 2008 and the Guidons, colours, ensign & banners pamphlet available from the Cathedral shop.