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Capturing the love and peace of the Holy Family in bronze, Gold Coast sculptor’s labour of love

Sacred artwork: The Holy Family in the grounds of Mandurah Catholic College in Western Australia.

A GOLD Coast sculptor has spent the past two years as a labour of love creating a statue of the Holy Family, which now stands in the grounds of a school in Western Australia. 

“It has been one of the most important projects I have worked on and it has a very special meaning … family is the most important thing to me,” Linda Klarfeld said after the work was unveiled at Mandurah Catholic College, south of Perth.

“My brief was to create a work that shows strength, purpose and dignity – to create a family that is a model of love and peace.

“While holding on to traditional themes, it still has a contemporary flavour that we can relate to.”

For Ms Klarfeld the project started by trying to set a scene for Joseph, Mary and young Jesus.

She chose a domestic setting, with Joseph in his workshop showing Jesus a new toy (a carved dove) he made for him.

“I made Mary into a modern woman, without the veil,” Ms Klarfeld said.

“I put her hand on Joseph’s shoulder to show the love and unity between them and to connect the three figures with touch. 

“It was very important that the figures had eye contact with what was important to them. 

“To Mary and Joseph, it is Jesus.

“To Jesus, it is the dove, a reflection of the natural world and the (Holy) Spirit.”

The work contained a lot of symbols – lilies to show the family is the Holy Family, an empty bowl to show Mary can provide with God’s help, and a dove, the traditional symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit.

Ms Klarfeld moved into a studio in Southport on the Gold Coast last year, after decades establishing her career in Sydney.

Her works include both religious and secular themes, and her subjects have included Tony Abbott, Gai Waterhouse, Victor Chang, and cricketers Keith Miller and Bill Woodford.

But her passion is for sculptures with a religious theme, and her favourite is a sculpture of St John Paul II which stands proudly in the forecourt of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta.

She said she felt “blessed” to sculpt the Holy Family for a college in Western Australia.

She spent two years working full-time on the project and admitted it was difficult developing the right design.

“For months I couldn’t find any inspiration,” she said.

“I was trying to find people that would inspire me, dressing people up, posing them – looking around me for families that could inspire me. Nothing worked. I didn’t feel a connection.

“It is hard to create such an important piece and to communicate ‘Love’ if you can’t relate to it as the artist. 

“Then I realised that the answer was right in front of my face, probably the reason I couldn’t see the proverbial wood for the trees.

“It was a breakthrough moment.”

Producing a massive bronze sculpture that would eventually be sent to the west also proved a logistical challenge.

“There were many disastrous moments,” Ms Klarfeld said. 

“Initially the sculpture was too big to ship to WA and many couriers would not transport it because it is an ‘artwork’. 

“Finally I found one man who would take it across the continent. 

“So really I started the sculpture design in Sydney, then created it in the Gold Coast, then continued the creation process in Melbourne and finally unveiled it in WA. 

“It has been around Australia.”

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