Carved prayer rediscovered

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Menshed co-ordinator Ross Barden and Geraldton Residential College staff member Barbara Edwards with the intricate artwork.
Camera IconGeraldton Menshed co-ordinator Ross Barden and Geraldton Residential College staff member Barbara Edwards with the intricate artwork. Credit: Adam Poulsen

A treasured artefact and important piece of Geraldton Residential College’s history has been rediscovered, 18 years after it went missing.

A wood carving of the Lord’s Prayer, hand-crafted in splendid detail by an anonymous US airman during World War II, once hung proudly in the college dining room.

But the artwork was lost during renovations in 2000.

Geraldton Residential College administration and finance officer, Barbara Edwards, recently found the piece by chance, tucked behind a stack of old filing cabinets.

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“We were having carpets replaced so we had to pull out all the filing cabinets, and lo and behold, there it was,” she said.

“I was ecstatic because I had been so angry that it got misplaced and I couldn’t understand where it disappeared to.

“It is quite significant to the history of the residential college, so we’re very glad to have found it,”

Ms Edwards said the years of neglect had taken their toll and the plywood layers were beginning to lift, so she took it to the Geraldton Menshed, where member Bill Rennison happily took on the repair job.

Menshed co-ordinator Ross Barden said the project took Mr Rennison about 20 hours to complete.

“He had to tear the three plies apart and take the layers and just cut those out slowly and put them back,” Mr Barden said.

“He made the frame and everything else around it and just made it perfect.

“It was marvellous what he did.”

Ms Edwards said she was “extremely grateful” to Mr Rennison and the Menshed.

She said staff were not yet sure where the artwork would be displayed, but it would take pride of place in a suitably noticeable location.

Mr Barden said the Menshed was always looking for new members and everybody was welcome.

“There’s a lot of men who don’t know what to do with themselves — I was one of them once — and it’s a great place for men to come,” he said.

“You can come down as much as you like and it’s got all the machinery and everything else you want.”

Ms Edwards said the unknown artist was a resident at Geraldton’s Proddy House boarding hostel — Geraldton Residential College’s predecessor — when he carved the artwork.

Anyone with information about his identity is invited to contact Ms Edwards at Barbara.Edwards2@ education.wa.edu.au or by phoning 9965 6000.

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