Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture


Jesus Laughing and Loving Collection

The Labourer, acrylic on canvas, 61cm x 45cm by Mairi Karl Feeger.

In 2019 the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture became the permanent home to an important collection of paintings bequeathed by the late Harry Wallace, and presented by his family. The works all have one theme in common – we at the Centre lovingly know them as – the laughing Jesus paintings. The collection was commissioned by Pat and Harry Wallace and Sir Maxwell Macleod inviting artists from around the world to contribute. The paintings’ can be considered eclectic with 34 artists from 17 countries across four continents represented. The curators’ inspiration was to depict Jesus from the perspective of his everyday life and his relationship with the community, young and old. In this way Jesus is not depicted in the usual manner of sombre, harsh, tortured and suffering. He is instead showing a lightness of spirit, enjoying all around him in a joyful embracing manner.

Describing the inspiration behind their works many artists expressed how difficult it was to envision Jesus laughing. One said that nowhere in the Bible is it written that he laughs; another wrote that in all the iconic portrayals of Jesus there is only sombreness and torture; many others said that as Jesus was human and lived for 33 years amongst us that there must have been many moments of joy. They have all used their imaginations to portray this joy. Alone in the titles of their works we are introduced to these joyous emotions. Several of the artists found their inspiration from the occasion when Jesus spent a happy, loving time with children on the way to Jerusalem. The disciples scolded the parents for bringing them. Jesus’s response was: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Reverend Tim Costello AO wrote: “This exhibition is a step towards liberating the person of Jesus from the traditional other-worldly image so that his power and relevance for modern living might be rediscovered and enjoyed.”

The Mural Wall was unveiled in August 2011 by the then Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC CVO. It represents a painting depicting the Holy Spirit in Our Land by the late renowned Elder, Lawman and painter of the Gija People (East Kimberly), Hector Jandany. His original painting is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. The proposal to represent it in ceramic tiles on this Wall was enthusiastically approved by the painter during his lifetime. It has been achieved by Mosaics by Morrissey. This Mural Wall wonderfully bridges Indigenous and Christian spirituality through an interpretation of life of the Spirit in the land and the lives of its people. It is one of the two iconic spiritual symbols so far erected on the site.

Above: Young Christ by Emmanuel Garibay, oil on canvas.

Above: My Dreamstory Icon: Iconic Uluru by Michael Galovic.

Stations of the Cross (1987), by Rod Milgate

Above: Stations of the Cross (1987), 210cm x 170cm by Rod Milgate

An influential Australian artist, especially during the 60s and 70s. Three times winner of the Blake Prize for Religious Art. Gift of his widow Dinah Shearing

Seasons of Birth Diptych (2016), by Fan Dongwang

Above: Seasons of Birth Diptych (2016), 122cm x 76cm by Fan Dongwang

The painting featured in the November 2016 Seasons of Birth exhibition held at the chapel at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture and was donated by the artist to the Centre.

Breathing Space 1: Into the New Creation (based on resurrection), by Dr Ella Whateley

Above: Breathing Space 1: Into the New Creation (based on resurrection), acrylic, gouache and oil on linen 120cm x 150cm by Dr Ella Whateley.

This artwork is in the prayer chapel and is on loan from the artist.

Falling 1 (Triptych 2010)  by Euan MacleodFalling 2 (Triptych 2010)  by Euan MacleodFalling 3 (Triptych 2010)  by Euan Macleod

Above: Falling (Triptych 2010) 3 pieces each 85cm x 149cm by Euan Macleod

Gift from the artist via the Blake Society

Untitled, by Benita Everett

Above: Untitled, 140cm x 50cm by Benita Everett, natural ochre and pigment on canvas

This artwork hangs in the foyer of George Browning House and is on loan from Clive and Lynlea Rodger.