ANTIGONISH, N.S. - ‘The Journey’ was unveiled at the new home of the Sisters of St. Martha, Parkland Antigonish, April 3.
The Journey is a painting by local artist Anna Syperek which now hangs in the entrance foyer of Parkland.
In beautiful colours, lights and detailed images, it creates a path which traces the history of the Martha’s; their tremendous accomplishments, vast outreach, current activities and outlook to what is next.
The work was commissioned through a partnership of the Town of Antigonish, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, St. F.X. and the St. Martha Regional Hospital Foundation. Representation from all four supporters were on-hand for the unveiling celebration which included an overflowing crowd taking in the activities.
The event started and ended in the Parkland dining room and included the much-anticipated unveiling, with words from congregation leader Sister Brendalee Boisvert and Syperek, in the foyer area.
“What I just love is that it’s a journey, it’s not just a one single space picture, it’s about our whole journey,” Boisvert said, talking to reporters after the event.
“That’s one thing very important to us; we don’t stand still,” she added. “We keep listening to where God is calling us; where is the need? And we want to keep doing that, so that takes us everywhere.
“This picture, to me, says we kept listening for that and it moved us; and I loved that she left it open because we don’t know what the future is.”
Asked if the art work made the new building feel a little bit more like home, Boisvert said the congregation is still in the “transition” phase of their move from the Bethany Motherhouse, but the day itself helps move that transition forward.
“We’re growing into finding this home,” she said, of Parkland which celebrated its grand opening March 19.
“I still get lost when I get off the elevator; if I don’t think about where I’m going I can go the wrong way. So it’s not quite home yet but what is beautiful is the staff trying to welcome us; they’re doing everything they can, it’s just going to take time.
“We have to make memories, like this memory of today will help it to feel more like home. And we heard the stories here about all the work we’ve done so, for me, that is going to accomplish us feeling more like we’re home.”
Boisvert talked about the town, county, university and hospital foundation coming together to honour the Sisters of St. Martha.
“The four groups who we’ve been, so much, a partner of over our history – since 1900,” she said. “They’re saying to us, ‘we love you’ and we can say it back now; I think I tried to say that in my words.
“They getting together was the big gift, even if there was nothing presented. They came together and decided they wanted to honour the Marthas; to me that was a great gift for us and to get Anna’s beautiful work on top of that …”
Boisvert was asked about what struck her first upon seeing the painting.
“I was looking for mountains and that was so funny because people will ask, ‘what do the mountains have to do [with] here?’ We have always felt the call across Canada and if you don’t have a mountain there, than our sisters who can’t be here now; we have sisters in the west who can’t be here for this celebration, but they’re part of it and are because those mountains are there. For me, that caught my eye right away and I’m just so happy it’s there,” she said.
“The other part was the new plot, the new growers; we just started this ministry a couple of years ago and it honours that there is something new happening … that caught me right away.
“And the sun coming through; when she (Anna) explained about the sky and the ocean, how you almost couldn’t see the change … those all caught my eye.”
Senator Mary Coyle emceed the day and had spearheaded the effort to have the groups come together to honour the sisters as they moved from the Bethany Motherhouse to Parkland. She also mentioned the light when asked about a first impression of Syperek’s work.
“Two things stood out for me; the quality of the light which comes through the whole thing and the second thing, really, is how she has magically brought together St. George’s Bay with the Pacific Ocean … seamlessly,” Coyle said.
Coyle talked about the day.
“A joyous day of celebration for the Sisters of St. Martha,” she said.
“It’s a pretty special thing that our community has come together this way with our four leading institutions; the town, county, university and hospital foundation, on behalf of all of us as community members, to honour the sisters and celebrate them as they take the next step on their journey and life.
“I’m just thrilled to see how people have come out and to see the beauty of the art which has been created by Anna Syperek – it’s a real testament to her as an artist. She shows her desire to honour the Marthas through her talent.”
Syperek talked about her work and the day.
“I just tried to think how I could best tell their story visually; it was a challenge but very interesting,” she said, noting it was unusual for her to work on such a large piece.
“I’m so happy, so happy, for the warm reception; it’s always nerve-racking when you do a commissioned work because no one sees it until the end.”
She noted the idea behind the art came together “quickly.”
“The hard part was this little sketch becoming this giant painting,” she said.
“I realized I had much more work to do to try and fit the landscape in and to make it coherent – to have it make sense. But it’s such an honour to do something for them; you want to do it well.”