The Alumni Art Prize seeks to engage Damascus College alumni in the life and community of Damascus by producing a piece of art that explores our motto ‘To Live By the Light of Christ’.

Launched in 2014, the College has engaged the services of an alumni each year to create a piece of artwork for Damascus.

The Damascus College Alumni Art Prize offers great exposure for the artist. For 12 months the chosen artwork is prominently displayed in the Mercy Wing Visitor Reception on campus. The artist and artwork are featured in the Damascus publication The Road, and the artwork is shared with the community in the College Newsletter as well as social media sites.

Want to earn $2000 for your art?

Are you or someone you know a College alumni with an artistic flair?

The Alumni Art Project is open to Damascus College Alumni (including past students or staff from Sacred Heart College, St Paul’s College and St Martin’s in the Pines).

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Damascus College will pay a fee to the artist who has been commissioned to undertake the work.

Damascus College will pay a sum of $2,000 to the artist who has been commissioned to undertake the work. The artist will be chosen and notified in August with the art piece and artists statement to be delivered to the College by mid-November. This fee will be paid in two parts. The first payment of $500 will be paid upon the signing of the Alumni Art Prize Artists Agreement. The second payment of $1500 will be paid in January after the work has been delivered.

Artist Application Form 2023

Alumni Artists

  • 2015 Kim Anderson, Class of 1997
  • 2016 Nareda Lewers, Class of 1996
  • 2017 Peter Thomas, Class of 1992
  • 2018 Seona Murnane, Class of 1995
  • 2019 Amelia Johnson, Class of 2017
  • 2020 Rachael Beardall, Class of 2014
  • 2021 Dr Maria Stratford, Class of 1974
  • 2022 Was not awarded
  • 2023 Shelby Sherritt, Class of 2013

2021 Alumni Art Prize Artist Chosen

To Live By The Light of Christ
Photograph on Archival Paper
Artist – Dr Maria Stratford, Class of 1974

The 2021 artist commissioned is Dr Maria Stratford. Each artist is asked to develop an artist statement describing the motivation behind the piece.

On hearing the statement, ‘To Live By The Light of Christ’ my mind returns to many places and experiences in my life.

One of my most memorable experiences of religious faith and devotion was in Ethiopia, especially in the ancient town of Lalibela where this image was taken. Unlike my previous experiences of religious communities, where the priests have comfortable lives and elaborate priestly attire, the life of this priest is more in tune with the life of Christ; one of hardship and modesty which is reflected by the clothes he wears and the humility conveyed by his facial expression. He is quite isolated from the rest of the churches, the rest of the religious community and broader society due to the remoteness of his church.

To reach this tiny, modest church one has to climb Abuna Yoseph Mountain which is 4,260 metres high. The church is carved into the rock face and is one of the highest churches in Ethiopia. The priest is holding an ancient Bible which shows the black Madonna and Child. The similarity between the facial features of the priest and the Madonna are striking and very typical of the people of Northern Ethiopia. This demonstrates the long-standing practice in different societies around the world who create images of Christ and Mary in their own likeness to help their community identify with their religion.

The text in the Bible is written in a 2,000-year-old language called Ge’ez which is unknown to the average Ethiopian but used by the Ethiopian Orthodox priests to this day. The monks, priests and nuns of Ethiopia, on the whole, live very modest lives and truly live by the Light of Christ. In Lalibela, I visited nuns’ living quarters which were tiny dirt caves carved out of the rock face. There was no light and only room to enter by stooping. Life for the average person in Lalibela is comfortable and so this, to me, demonstrates that the nuns and priests have a strong devotion to their religion and live in a manner that reflects this devotion.

For 12 years I was taught by nuns and religion formed a large part of their teachings. The stories from the Bible and the words of Christ documented therein are teachings and behaviours that I have tried to live my life by, not in a religious way but in a humanistic way, showing humility, comfort, love and empathy for people in my life and others I can help and give succour to, both here and overseas. This, to me, is a personal demonstration of living by the Light of Christ.

Dr Maria Stratford, 2020

Dr Maria Stratford

Alumni at Damascus College are defined as past students and staff of Damascus College and its foundation colleges, Sacred Heart, St Paul’s and St Martin’s in the Pines.

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