Discovering glory in a box

Madonna Awad will take people inside the Coptic culture for a new exhibition. 76525 Picture: JOE MASTROIANNIMadonna Awad will take people inside the Coptic culture for a new exhibition. 76525 Picture: JOE MASTROIANNI

By Laura Wakely
HOPES and dreams may not seem tangible, but a new exhibition shows each can be contained in a box.
Love and Care, which launches this week at the Hunt Club Community Arts Centre in Deer Park, explores the tradition of the glory box among women from the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Co-ordinator of the Coptic Women’s Association Madonna Awad had the idea for the project after realizing some traditions were being lost among the hectic lives of women today.
“We’re on the run all the time, we’re not enjoying anything,” Madonna said.
“It’s about sending a message to slow down and enjoy things.” The glory box is a chest, also known as a ‘trousseau’, filled with objects like blankets, nighties, underwear, tea towels and tapestry, which have been passed down from mother to daughter, or created especially by the woman who owns it.
Madonna said glory boxes are intended to prepare young women for marriage.
“It prepares you for the beginning of a new chapter of your life,” she said.
“Once she is married, a woman knows she has pieces that are worth a lot.
“You’re passionate, creating these things with love and hope.”
Senior Curator of Migration at Museum Victoria, Dr Moya McFadzean and Brimbank City Council’s Chair of Administrators Peter Lewinsky will open the exhibition on Friday.
Victoria University researchers Professor Marty Grace and Dr Enza Gandolfo worked with artists Tamara Marwood and Angie Russi to explore the traditional textiles used in glory boxes in the Coptic culture.
The research led to the book Love and Care: The glory box tradition of Coptic women in Australia, which will also be launched at the exhibition.
Love and Care launches at 6pm this Friday 10 February at the Hunt Club Community Arts Centre in Deer Park and will run until 5 April.
For more information contact the Hunt Club on 9249 4600.

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