Archived News Item


 "This land of our adoption” 
  Ursula Frayne 10th January 1846 Western Australia to Rev. Mother Cecilia Baggot Street.[1]

This year through the sponsorship of the Institute Leadership Team and McAuley Ministries Annie Q. Medley, Cultural Collections Curator at the Mercy Heritage Centre Perth was chosen to attend the Mercy Ethos Dublin Leadership program.  As part of the program participants are asked to complete a project. Annie  chose to incorporate her interest in archives and heritage, visiting Mercy heritage centres in the UK and Ireland and photographing the relationships she found there between objects and archives. The outcome was a small series of paintings for a postcard set inspired by her visits and the photographs and drawings she produced.

The postcard project aim was to connect the Mercy Foundations in Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia through an exploration and artistic interpretation of the artworks and objects sent between the early and distant communities as ties of affection and connection. Four images were chosen from over one hundred to represent the travel of the Sisters to distant and alien places and depicted the themes of Journey, Skill, Comfort and Home.  The postcard is a symbol of the decision to travel and the subsequent journey, separation, adventure, trials, longing and communication it was hoped the images would communicate this process and feelings.

Ursula Frayne describes the journey in the ship that brought her and her companions to Australia as “our Floating Convent”[2] , The ship depicted in the painting is a fragment copied from a large and ornate hand painted gouache described in the letter of gift as ‘a little work of art” for Mother M. Joseph Croke, sent to Charleville Convent from the Bathurst community for the jubilee of 1887.

Wherever they travelled the Sisters took with them the skills they would use to attract students to their schools. This painting is a depiction of a piece of lace work made at the Charleville industrial school. On August 2nd 1849 in Western Australia an advertisement placed in the Inquirer under the heading “Education” stated:

“THE Sisters of Mercy, Presenting every faculty, have arranged to open… a distinct Day school for a number of young Ladies.  Besides a solid English Education… [offer] also Music, Drawing and Plain and Ornamental Works.[3]

A cup of tea, a simple comfort. This painting shows the detail from the design of a lone teacup housed in the Bermondsey Convent museum in the United Kingdom. It started life as part of a set sent from Bermondsey to Grafton, Australia for the use of the Sisters newly arrived there. It was sent back over a hundred year’s later in acknowledgment of the connection between the two Foundations.

What is home? How do we make terms with an alien environment? Ursula Frayne said in a letter home to Baggot Street in September 1846, less than one year into the Foundation   “As for myself I can say with sincerity I have never felt more happy”[4]. This artwork is inspired by   a lace work piece seen in Mercy International at Baggot Street. It depicts a bird on a branch and is Carrickmacross Lace work made and sent as a gift from the Rockhampton community by Sister Maria Goretti Healy. 


As part of the ongoing Mercy Heritage Centre Perth program, the Centre was open to the public on Sunday October 18th as part of Perth Heritage Days 2015.

Messages to: Annie Q. Medley

Curator Cultural Collections Southern A Community, ISMAPN

[1] Valiant Women, Geraldine  Byrne, p.18, 1981.

[2] ibid p.19.

[3] ibid, xvi.

[4] ibid, p. 29.



Messages to: Annie Medley