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Thursday, November 16, 2017


(“Maristella: Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Maggie Strachan, 
one of the works on display)

Report on Trappist Mission exhibition by Janet Whelan

Some years ago a group of artist friends decided to take a day trip to one of the Trappist Mission stations where they drew and took photographs to become the basis of paintings back in the studio.

The artists, who have visited many of the 23 missions and out-stations built by the Trappists and Mariannhill Missionaries between 1882 and 1908, have drawn inspiration from the environment, local communities, archival records, church architecture and artefacts.

“This has led to a deep appreciation of the work and the cultural contribution made by the Trappist monks in this province, especially in the areas of education, architecture, building skills, farming, printing, photography, arts, and crafts,” said Maggie Strachan, who spearheaded the project.

As this group of artist adventurers grew, so too did the body of work produced and it was decided to hold an exhibition to showcase both the art works and the achievements of the Trappist monks. The artists involved hoped that their paintings, drawings and mixed-media works would highlight a little-known part of our cultural heritage, inspire a sense of awe, and encourage visitors to experience this extraordinary history for themselves while enjoying the breath-taking landscapes.

The exhibition was opened on November 5, 2017, in St Ann’s Hall at the Mariannhill Monastery by Archbishop Emeritus Khumalo and on November 11 the renowned conservation architect, Robert Brusse, delivered an enlightening address on the history of the Trappists.

The monks, under the leadership of Fr Franz Pfanner, founded Mariannhill monastery near Pinetown in 1882, and within a few years established a network of missions across the landscape of southern KwaZulu-Natal.

The participating artists were Maggie Strachan, Joan Martin, Lara Mellon, Scott Kotze, Nomsa Ngidi, Daryl Houghton, Peter Robinson, Gill Van Wyk, Rita Fenske, Anna de Vlieg, Bridget Clutton, Michelle Crawley, Hendrik van der Walt, Estelle Hudson, Janet Wilson and Margie Ramsay. - Janet Whelan