9 September 2010: Professor Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor at Australian Catholic University (ACU), has received an icon of Blessed Mary MacKillop by renowned iconographer Michael Galovic.
Commissioned to coincide with the forthcoming canonisation in Rome, the impressive 100x70cm icon is done on wooden board and primed with many layers of traditional gesso – made from rabbit skin, glue and whiting.
It has been gilded with three different grades of gold leaf, and finished with egg tempera.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Michael is a graduate of the Belgrade Academy of Arts. He began absorbing the ancient tradition of iconography as a child, while watching his stepfather restoring frescoes and icons in Serbian churches and monasteries.
Michael arrived in Sydney in 1990, and taught icon painting for 12 years before moving to the Central Coast of NSW to concentrate on commissions and his own exhibitions.
“Around 70 per cent of my work is displayed in Catholic churches, institutions and schools,” he said. “Icons are not art or decoration, but sacred objects that are venerated by the faithful who pray before them.”
Michael is the first and only professional Australian iconographer to create six different iconic versions of Mary MacKillop, and his icons of our first Saint can be seen in many churches throughout Australia.
“One commission which does stand out for me is an icon I created of St Benedict, which was given to Pope Benedict XVI as a gift during World Youth Day in Sydney,” he said. “Soon after the event I actually received a personal letter from His Holiness thanking me.”
Professor Craven said the icon of Blessed Mary MacKillop would have pride of place in the Vice-Chancellery at the University’s North Sydney Campus.
“Mary MacKillop knew this house, and the campus is now named in her honour,” he said. ‘It is my hope that staff and students passing by this icon will have the opportunity to reflect in her presence.”