Sydney
9 February 2003

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Churches together under one roof


 

Churches together under one roof


Scale models of Australian churches and cathedrals - 'thousands of hours' of work - on display in the crypt at St Mary's

By Damir Govorcin

As a child, Richard Braddish had a fascination for making models. He would sit for hours drawing and building models, inspired by structures he would see on television and at the movies.

On weekends, he would walk through the city, gazing at the high-rise buildings.

Richard, now 37, has turned his passion into a career, working as a model maker for the past 15 years in town planning with the City of Sydney.

He built a scale model of the city, which took him 11 years to complete. Part of his job is to keep updating the model.

He says he was always looking to combine two great passions - his faith and model making.

So, four years ago, he embarked on the task of researching and constructing models of more than 90 Australian churches and cathedrals.

His finished work is now on display in the crypt at St Mary's Cathedral.

The models - made to a scale of 1:665 - are labelled with tags indicating the name of the church, its location, architect and year of construction.

"I spent thousands of hours making the models," says Richard, "and spent around $4000 making calls around Australia collecting the necessary information.

"I researched books on churches at the NSW State Library and visited as many churches as I could in Sydney.

"I received great co-operation from people involved in the churches across Australia, who would send me photos and books on the history of their churches.

"It was a four-year labour of love and I'm really proud of the end result."

St Mary's Cathedral is in the centre of the display, being the largest in Australia at 107 metres long. The tallest is St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, at 105 metres.

Both were designed by English architect William Wardell and characterised by Gothic architecture.

Wardell, who was director-general for public works in Melbourne from 1861-1878, designed many major government buildings in NSW and Victoria. He designed more than 100 churches in Australia.

Features such as asymmetry, verticality and a strong expression of materials and structure are characteristic of the Victorian Gothic style.

Other features of the style include spires, towers, tourettes, fleches and steeply pitched roofs.

"St Mary's and St Patrick's are my two favourites because there are so heavily influenced by Gothic architecture," says Richard.

"They are distinctive because they are the largest ones in Australia, and for that reason would be in the top 50 in the world.

"Australian churches like St Mary's have open-timber roofs, while overseas church roofs are stone-vaulted, which leaves them susceptible to collapse during earthquakes.

"Gothic architecture in churches has been used in Europe for the past 1000 years.

"It uses shapes, circles, angles and pointed spires which reach to the heavens."

Richard's church models were originally on display at his parish church, Our Lady Star of the Sea, at Miranda.

Cardinal Edward Clancy, former Archbishop of Sydney, saw the display and "was impressed by it and said he would love to see it on display at St Mary's", says Richard.

"The feedback I have received has been nothing but positive, and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction that people are enjoying my work."

Richard says the project has given him a greater appreciation of his faith.

"My faith has inspired me to do this and has made me want to learn more about being a Catholic," he says.

"You appreciate the love, care and money that went into building these churches."

Richard is now making a model of the school and church at Our Lady Star of the Sea, Miranda, which is under-going a $3 million refurbishment.

He is also compiling a book on the history of tall structures in Australia.

"I will have a section on the tallest 500 churches in Australia, which will include all the necessary facts on each church," he says.