The work of Richard Campbell, an Australian from the Gumbaingirr/Dhungutti people, has been selected to be displayed at World Youth Day events and on event paraphernalia.
Campbell's series of indigenous artworks reinterpret major Catholic themes. His Fourteen Stations of the Cross, The Madonna, The Crucifixion, and The Resurrection will be used on merchandise for the expected 225,000 registered pilgrims for the international youth event.
Mr. Campbell was taken away from his family at the age of nine. Afterwards he was constantly moved from one boy's home to another.
“A Catholic priest once asked me to connect Aboriginal spirituality with bible stories through a painting,” Campbell said.
“When I started to paint, I felt my own spirituality come flooding back and I started to remember the stories of my people. That’s when I became aware of the similarity between Aboriginal and Christian stories.”
The artist, a finalist for the prestigious Blake Prize, collaborates with his sister Louise Campbell who composes stories and prayers behind the paintings. Together they hope to convey spirituality common to all.
“We all have a spiritual connection, we’re all brothers and sisters, with the animals, the trees, rivers and rocks, we all belong to one big God - call it Christ, we call it Birrigun, we are all one in God,” Mr. Campbell said.
His art will also be displayed at a venue in Sydney during World Youth Day.
Up to 125,000 overseas pilgrims are expected for the event, including Pope Benedict XVI in his first Australian visit. It will be held July 15 through July 20.