Butterfly Wall – Gone but not forgotten

13 Dec 2019

A wall comprising of around 1000 handmade ceramic tiles, affectionately named the ‘Butterfly Wall’, unfortunately had to be dismantled as a part of the redevelopment of Caritas Christi Hospice. However, a great deal of care was taken to preserve each tile. A group of dedicated volunteers then undertook an important project to catalogue, pack and return each and every tile to the families of the former patients.

Pastoral Care team member, Joan Ryan, first created the “Fingerprints Butterfly” image in 1996 to symbolize the transition of the human spirit. Many years later, family members made the suggestion that it would be nice to have a memorial place at Caritas where they could come to remember their loved one and the special care they had received. The “Fingerprints Butterfly” image then formed the basis for the Butterfly Wall which was created in 2006.

Patients who wanted to participate were provided with tiles with an outline of a butterfly to imprint with their fingerprints. Some were done by the patients themselves and some by the families. Designs evolved to more personal pictures such as a seascape and a pelican.

Carmen, daughter of a former patient, described the process as a comforting tradition. “It seemed an unusual thing to be doing in the hour after Dad’s death. But in hindsight, it was far more productive and therapeutic than waiting around for the funeral directors to arrive.”

Palliative Care Receptionist, Ralph Bossmann led a team of volunteers who undertook a ‘tile return project’.

Replicas were made of the tiles to ensure there was a duplicate in case any of the tiles were damaged in the move. The Wall was re-created so it could be mapped out for prosperity. Finally, the tiles were lovingly wrapped to ensure their safe return to their families.

“It’s been hard work but a labour of love. It’s great that we can return them to the families who I’m sure will treasure them.”

If you would like to support the re-development of Caritas Christ - click here 

Left Photo Caption: Volunteers Lisa, Sonia and Daphne commence the collation and preserving process.

Right Photo Caption: Volunteers Margaret and Daphne work on re-creating the Butterfly Wall