When internationally acclaimed artist, best-selling author and wellness coach Meredith Gaston (’02) delivered the address at the 2020 P&F Luncheon, she told the audience she firmly believed her years at Loreto Kirribilli had a profound and enduring impact on her quest to ‘find her sparkle’.
“It was the values that nourished, nurtured and inspired me as a student at Loreto Kirribilli that I have carried with me into every level of my adult life, into my further education, my work, my career and into my relationships with people in the community, my family, my friends and my loved ones.”
She looks back fondly on her teachers, who she said inspired and encouraged her enormously, mentioning her Art teacher Ms Guest and English Coordinator Ms Davis in particular. She acknowledges that all her teachers played a part in shaping her into the woman she is now. “All my teachers moved and inspired me, each and every one.”
She has many fond memories of her Kirribilli schooldays but favourites include an art excursion to Arthur Boyd’s home and studio in Bundanoon and ‘Street Retreat’, which involved staying at Mary McKillop lodge in North Sydney while volunteering in the community.
“I loved the creative and community service aspects of school life. I also took a Southern Cross exchange program to Italy in Year 10, a trip that changed my life completely. I learnt to speak Italian fluently in three months, living in a very small country town north of Venice, and have since returned to visit my host parents regularly, even as recently as 2019… 20 years later,” she added.
Now based in the hinterland of Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast, Meredith has many talents. She has written and illustrated seven books, exhibited her artworks internationally and is a sought after health and wellbeing coach.
She is passionate about raising awareness and money (over $2 million to date) for women affected by breast cancer and does so via her longstanding commitment to Sussan Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) projects, which she describes as a career highlight. She creates giftware including stationery, sleepwear and wellness products from organic soaps to herbal teas, all beautifully illustrated and packaged, that are available through Sussan Corporation with proceeds going to BCNA.
Meredith feels this drive to make a difference has its roots in her time at Loreto Kirribilli. “My education both academically and emotionally at Loreto Kirribilli prepared me to live a richly creative, spiritual life in which I feel truly independent and empowered. I appreciate the value of loving service and have a toolkit of foundational resources from which to draw on at every level as I go about living and enjoying my life,” she explained.
If she has any advice for girls embarking on their careers it is, “Do what you love and love what you do. Listen to your own heart and be courageous as you follow it."