Law student’s artwork explores theme of Mary, mother of all

Francesca artwork web


A painting that is a modern interpretation and exploration of Mary as Mother of God and mother of all, was unveiled at The Logos Centre – Whānau Maria in central Auckland on December 14.

“E Maria e matou whaea (Mary, Our Mother)”, an oil on canvas, commissioned artwork, was created by law student Francesca Adams from Howick. Ms Adams works part time as a youth worker at The LOGOS Project, and is also a youth leader at Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish in Howick.

Speaking of the unveiling of the artwork, Ms Adams said that “both my immediate and LOGOS families gathered to celebrate a beautiful day of personal reflection, waiata, and prayer”.

A description of the artwork sent to NZ Catholic stated that “the work depicts parallels between Francesca’s whakapapa (genealogy) to Pawarenga and Pangaru, and the maternal side of Mary that could still be relatable. Within this Māori context, Francesca captured the role of Mary as the feminine version of great love, acceptance and hope. These aspects of motherhood are translated through her laughing with her baby and being surrounded by children. Honouring her in this context was also explored and commented on through the galaxy of stars overhead, illuminating her as the Queen of Heaven. The Matariki artwork imbued in the sky also evokes parallels between what Māori believe are a symbol of new beginnings, remembrance, and joy, and Mary’s message and role, which is eternal. Along with the sacredness emanating from the sky, there are two huia birds [which] accompany Mary. The huia was the most sacred to Māori, a symbol of rangatiratanga (leadership) and mana (power, essence, presence). A single huia feather was worn in the hair like a royal crown; the tapu (sacred[ness]) of the feather entwining with the tapu of the wearer. Francesca chose these birds to represent both the status of Mary as rangatiratanga, and flirt with the idea of traditional Catholic iconography such as angels in a Māori context”.

The description continued: “There was another interest in the interconnectedness of the past, the present, and the future, which Francesca wanted to capture. This work has been divided into three panels, not only by her choice of colours – muted tones in the past and vibrant in the present and future – but also by its subject. In the left section, a Māori boy contemplatively looks into the future with a sense of wonder and calmness. In the right section, a young girl looks to Mary with certainty, while Whina Cooper and her mokopuna march into the future. The whakatauki which can be seen in the bottom left corner of the work, Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua; ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past’, informed Francesca’s exploration of time and life as a continuous cosmic process. This idea of whakapapa shaping both present and future identity is also integral to the story of the LOGOS Project. Symbolically through the waka, Francesca wanted to capture how the wairua (spirit) and whakapapa of LOGOS in its foundation continues on, with Mary at the centre for all inspiration. It is a reminder of where we have been and where we are going.”

“The resulting body of work is a celebration of motherhood through honouring Mary, and an acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of life.”


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Michael Otto

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