Margaret Broadbent RSM is an artist and a woman who lives and breathes ‘viriditas’. Her artistic gifts have led her deeply into the mystery of God, life and ‘greening’. Born on the 17th September, the same date as Hildegard of Bingen died, something of this 11th century visionary passed into Margaret too. Hildegard has become her mentor and guide.
At the age of six, Margaret wanted to be an artist. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in the years of ferment following Vatican 11. In the 1960’s, change and newness became a way of life. With her artistic dream on hold, she gradually began to see in her Mercy call, the invitation to be a ‘life-giver’, ‘co-creator’ and ‘encourager’ of art and creativity in others. She studied to become a teacher and taught both young and old to recognise their own creative gifts.
An ardent bush dweller, she spend over forty years camping with family, friends and later, in solitary times spent in the Cathedral Ranges. This nourishment was unknowingly preparing her for a later teaching appointment in Billiluna- at ‘Mindibungu’ Aboriginal Community in the Great Sandy desert of Western Australia.
Warmly welcomed by the Aboriginal community, Margaret listened and learned about aspects of Aboriginal Culture. Slowly, she was drawn into the heart of the land, into the Aboriginal Community and into her own heart in a whole new way. In time, she met an Aboriginal artist from the Warmun Community in Turkey Creek, Western Australia who became her teacher.
Returning from the desert experience, she studied Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts- Melbourne University. Living and breathing from the place of inner creativity and gift, Margaret came home to that which was ‘native born’ in her. Then, with undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees in Fine Art- Painting, she became a professional artist. Her work was first situated in a Mercy Art and Creativity Centre – established by herself and another Mercy Artist- and later in her own home studio.
In the late 1990’s, one of her students asked to be taught the skills of Icon Painting. This request launched Margaret into a rich new world of Iconography. After studies carried out in Melbourne, Brisbane and St. Petersburg (Russia), she taught small classes in Iconography around Melbourne. During the past twelve years she has responded to numerous requests for commissions, particularly for Icons. She has given Icon Courses at a Retreat Centre in New Zealand. Strong links have been created with Sacred Murals and the School of Religion and Philosophy both in St. Petersburg.
In 2014, Viriditas Contemporary Art Studio – Art Ministry of McAuley Ministries Ltd was established. Margaret now works from her home-based studio in Melbourne. She continues to spend time in nature, touching into the spirit of the land that both nurtures and inspires her. Her art continues to mature and flourish into an ever deepening openness to ‘viriditas’ which is the essence of all life. It is this flowing, greening life that is evolving the world and which is evolving her as artist.
Madeline Duckett rsm