Springfield celebrates 150 years

This mosaic is 2m wide 3.5m high and was started early in November

A cocktail party, celebratory masses and a function for past and present pupils and teachers were a few ideas that were brainstormed two years ago to celebrate Springfield Convent School’s 150th anniversary. And then along came the coronavirus.

It was back to the drawing board, literally, as it turned out, because many of the new ideas that materialised to mark the school’s milestone have threads of artistic creation running through them.

The first of four projects is carved wooden Stations of the Cross on each of 14 palm trees in the convent gardens.

Carved wooden Stations of the Cross on each of 14 palm trees in Springfield’s convent gardens

The second, launched on the school’s official 150th birthday, on Friday March 7, is a mosaic on the Centenary Hall wall.

“We wanted something to represent the school, its story and its ethos,” said Penny Boock, the school’s marketing manager.

Dale MacRitchie, who works in the school’s art department teaching ceramics and is known for her ceramic creations sold to restaurants and chefs, along with artist Tracy Payne, who works from a studio in Woodstock, created a design incorporating elements depicting the school and its history. One of them is the ship that sailed from Ireland in 1871 bringing the Cabra Dominican Sisters to educate girls at the southern tip of Africa.

Flowers in the mosaic garden that were made by Springfield junior pupils.
This mosaic includes elements depicting the school and its history, such as the ship that sailed from Ireland in 1871 bringing the Cabra Dominican Sisters to educate girls at the southern tip of Africa

The artists spent about 650 hours making the mosaic. “It was a challenge working on a piece of this size,” said Ms MacRitchie, who incorporated flowers in the mosaic garden that were made by the junior pupils as well as the hearts in the waves and clouds.

Springfield head Penny Mullan said it had been wonderful for the pupils to observe the process of making a mosaic on this scale.

“They have witnessed that good things follow a process and that they take time,” she said.

Other anniversary projects include a stained-glass window for the chapel and a bronze statue for the gardens, all created by local artists.

Ms Boock said that when restrictions around gatherings were curtailed the hope was for a celebratory mass to be held in the school gardens.