• Date: 25/01/2019
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

An art deco mural by acclaimed twentieth century artist Christian Waller has been loaned by GMCT for inclusion in a new exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery.

Robe of Glory was commissioned in 1937 to hang in the newly-built Southern Chapel at Fawkner Memorial Park as part of Victoria's first modern, purpose-built crematorium complex.


Robe of Glory hangs in the Southern Chapel at Fawkner Memorial Park, c1930s. 

The mural is currently featured in the exhibition Daughters of the Sun: Christian Waller & Klytie Pate at Bendigo Art Gallery.

Robe of Glory spans almost three metres wide and two metres high. The work draws on Art Deco influences and references to Egyptian art to depict the son of the King and Queen of Dawn abandoning earthly life and returning to heaven, accompanied by the words ‘To the Way That I Came I Betook Me’.

Robe of Glory was acknowledged in the citation when Fawkner Memorial Park was recognised by the Victorian Heritage Council as a place of significance in 2014. In recent years, it has been on display in the administration building at Fawkner Memorial Park.

Daughters of the Sun: Christian Waller & Klytie Pate details the life and work of Waller (1894-1954) and her niece Klytie Pate. Pate was a renowned ceramic artist and one of Australia’s foremost studio potters of the twentieth century.

Waller herself was a Bendigo local, born in Castlemaine. She previously exhibited her work at Bendigo Art Gallery at age 15 – almost 100 years ago, in 1909.  Her family moved to Melbourne in 1910 where she studied at the National Gallery art school under acclaimed artist Frederick McCubbin. In her later career, she illustrated books and designed stained glass windows.

She was cremated at Fawkner when she passed away in 1954.

Waller is remembered as an artist with deep personal interest in spiritualism and symbolism, known for her use of ancient and classical literary subjects and a dynamic, art deco-inspired geometric style in her work. Robe of Glory, though painted with oils, creates the illusion of mosaic using paintbrush techniques.

Exhibition curator Emma Busowski Cox told The Bendigo Advertiser that Waller was a deeply spiritual artist.

“When you see her work, it’s hard not to love it and be touched by it,” she said.

“She was driven by wanting to encourage spiritual contemplation, rather than for artistic acclaim.”

Daughters of the Sun is at the Bendigo Art Gallery until February 10.

Christian Waller, The robe of glory (detail) 1937. oil on canvas. 172.0 x 267.0 cm. Collection of The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

Public art at our cemeteries

Chrysalis by Jos van Hulsen was installed at Fawkner Memorial Park’s main entrance in 2016.

Fawkner is one of many GMCT cemeteries and memorial parks with public artworks and historical furniture. A 2016-17 audit of GMCT’s public art catalogued more than 150 items, including a wide range of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, mosaics, fountains and features such as gates, stained glass windows and light installations.

You can find out more about the cultural and historical treasures at our cemeteries in our conservation management plans available here.