Danielle Robson, Soda Arts, March 16, 2022

"Happy International Women's Day!

We are delighted to announce the launch of AD ASTRA, a new public artwork by Marion Borgelt, and accompanying short film. AD ASTRA has been commissioned by St Catherine's School Sydney for the opening of their new Performing Arts & Aquatic Centre.

Our starting point for the project was a quote from the school's founder Mrs Jane Barker, who in 1856 said that "the daughters will crown the hill and command the pre-eminence". She said this at a time when women didn't have the vote, career prospects were limited, and female access to education wasn't guaranteed. Despite this, she made a declaration about the capacity of women and founded what is now the oldest independent girls' school in the country.

Today is the perfect day to celebrate this artwork by a renowned female artist, created to inspire the next generation of female leaders at a school founded to champion women in the world."

Danielle Robson




CLIENT St Catherine's School Sydney
ARTIST Marion Borgelt
ARCHITECT Caroline Comino
ARTIST REPRESENTATION Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney
DATE 2020 - 2022

SERVICES Strategic Planning, Curatorial Development, Project Management 

BRIEF St Catherine's School Sydney approached Soda Arts in early 2020 to deliver a significant permanent public artwork for the new Performing Arts and Aquatic Centre on the Sydney school campus. The aim of this commission was to create a memorable public piece that reflected the values of the school and inspired St Catherine's students.


OUTCOME Initial scoping meetings with St Catherine's and in-depth research into St Catherine's history informed a curatorial strategy for the project. A curatorial rationale was developed around a quote from the school's founder Mrs Jane Barker, who in 1846 said that "the daughters will crown the hill and command the pre-eminence".


Soda Arts worked with St Catherines to form an Art Committee and manage artist procurement through a closed competition model. After in-depth consideration, AD ASTRA by Marion Borgelt was unanimously selected by the Committee.


AD ASTRA is a site-specific, kinetic sculpture reflecting St Catherine's scholastic philosophy that places relationships at the heart of academic and character development. The interconnected, circular forms of AD ASTRA reflect the historic school's many connections: in the classroom, the staffroom, through generations of families, with the wider community and significant global alumni. The title of the work is inspired by the Southern Cross on the school crest. It reflects the school's aim for students to find the best in and for themselves and those around them. The artwork's combination of ultramarine blue, bright citrus yellow and hand-gilded golden leaf creates an experience of the night sky, reminding us of the celestial universe that connects us all. AD ASTRA launched in January 2022 along with the opening of the new facility.

Marion Borgelt is a leading Australian artist whose career has spanned over 40 years. Her work is represented in all major Australian museums and public spaces.

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