McCarthy, A. (2012). Expressing the Inexpressible: the work of Mons John Cyril Hawes, priest and architect. Biennial Conference in Philosophy, Religion and Culture: The Expressible and the Inexpressible.
What is the result of the combination of priest and architect, Anglican and Catholic heritage, English and Roman education in a deeply faith filled man?
The answer can be found in the hot and dry country of Geraldton Diocese Western Australia in the work of priest and architect Monsignor John Cyril Hawes (1876-1956). Hawes expresses the inexpressible through his many churches, hermitages, chapels, residential buildings and the Cathedral in Geraldton as well as other buildings in many other parts of the world. His deep and passionate faith is expressed in the eclectic use of symbols and forms encountered in his work and yet his buildings also express his concern for the human person as they ‘fit’ in the Mediterranean climate and are scaled to fit each community. This paper will explore Hawes’ visual theology made evident through his buildings in Western Australia and through the individual art works he created to live within those buildings. His iconography is ‘borrowed’ from many traditions and brought to life in a unique way in gargoyles, relief sculptures, paintings, baldachin, designs, stained glass windows, drawings and other artefacts. He was a man of his times and the challenge for those who live and worship in these buildings today is to preserve these earthly treasures of his legacy and yet function within them while celebrating liturgies in the 21st century.