Stories that united South African tribal women facing the struggles and challenges of HIV and AIDs have inspired students from Sacred Heart College Kyneton and Salesian College in Sunbury.

The Canticle of the Universe exhibition is a collection of works by women of the Kopanang community in South Africa, on loan from the Mariposa Museum of Peterborough in America.

Kopanang is a Sotho word meaning “gathering together”. The Kopanang community united women through art and by sharing in their journeys.

Jan Bower, a teacher at Sacred Heart College, said the women formed the community in order to provide medical, familial, and spiritual support and resources.

“The Kopanang Universe Canticle is a collection of 35 stunning wall hangings, which not only unfolds the universal evolution story, but also reveals and strengthens the spirit of the Kopanang community,” she said.

“The intricately embroidered panels tell the story of the universe as interpreted by 17 women.

“The woven words of one tapestry aptly states, ‘art becomes integral to life’.

“Art is integral to their own story and this exhibit allows us enter their life, understanding and supporting that story,” Ms Bower said.