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TAFE Queensland, North Region

Bailey and TAFE Queensland collaborate to provide visual arts students and upcoming local artists with a unique opportunity to display and sell their work in the hotel. 

The partnership allows students to gain valuable hands-on curation experience in displaying and hanging artwork, as well as mastering the art of biography writing and art descriptions. 

The opportunity also exposes students to the local art community, giving them the chance to develop an audience for their work, while also allowing students to form greater connections and networks with established artists. 

TAFE Queensland has a strong and proud history in the region in art education, with many of Australia's leading Indigenous printmakers, including Brian Robinson and Alick Tipoti, beginning their careers at the Cairns campus. 

About the artists

A Person Holding A Sign A Person Wearing Glasses And Smiling At The Camera A Man Sitting On A Table Sally Richardson Sitting At A Table A Man In A Dark Room

Fiona O'Neill 

Born in Melbourne, Victoria, I have lived most of my life in Castlemaine in the Central Goldfields of Victoria. Home has also been Western Australia, the central coast of New South Wales and I am now based in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland.

After finishing my secondary education, I completed my Bachelor in Interior Design and Decoration at the Melbourne College of Decoration then furthered my studies in Interior Design at Leederville Technical College, Perth.

I was introduced to the creative arts by my aunt Valerie O’Neill, who devoted her life to painting, specifically portraiture.  She was trained under Sir William Dargie, a prominent Australian artist during the ’40s and ’50s.  I was inspired by her lifelong devotion to the arts and her fascinating life. 

I returned to study Fine Art at La Trobe University, Bendigo, in 1995. I completed a year before life demanded my attention elsewhere. However, I began painting en plein air in the bush weekly, alongside an international artist, Robert MacLaurin. In this way, I was able to continue my art practise while raising five children.   

In my art over the years, I have naturally focused on a number of themes including the natural local environment, people and portraits and my reflections on life’s altering adversities.

I focus on drawing and painting, specializing in oil on canvas/linen, cedar panel and mixed media, where my technique incorporates impasto texture and gestural movement.  Working comparatively with vigorous brushstrokes and controlled movement, this recognisable style is distinct throughout my practice.  Influenced by recent life events, my work is continuing to evolve and becoming looser in execution.

Olivia Azzopardi

Olivia is a Cairns-based artist and ceramicist, known professionally as; Oh Jayne. Having completed a Cert III, Cert IV and Diploma in Visual Arts, Olivia focuses her practice in drawing and ceramics. Inspired mostly by her surrounding environment, Olivia’s work is informed by the local tropical fauna and flora of Far North Queensland.

Olivia has successfully created two solo exhibitions, both displayed at the Tanks Arts Centre gallery in Cairns and one of which was awarded the Curators award during my last year of school in grade 12. In addition to pursuing her studies and exhibiting her work, Olivia has started and supported an Artist Run Initiative for two years.

Along with three other young emerging artists, Olivia exhibited solo works, hosted workshops and sold commercial wares, therefore establishing their emerging art careers into professional long-term, sustainable pursuits. Continuing from this, Olivia was invited to work together with other professional artists in the year-long Y Block Artist Studio Residency at TAFE Queensland during 2018 were she continued to develop and refined her practice.

Currently working and continuing to support and help students at TAFE Queensland, North as a tutor and visual art technician, Olivia also hosts ongoing drawing and wheel-throwing workshops locally.

Her art practice is forever evolving through drawing and ceramics is inspired by the surreal, local tropical fauna and flora.

Joshua Percival

Joshua Percival was born in Sydney, NSW, bordering the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.  Growing up, Joshua was able to go on adventures by following the local creek, which wound through early Chinese orchards, bamboo groves, indigenous rock art, waterfalls, Holden wrecks as well as Sydney’s rich flora and fauna, all the way down to Apple Tree Bay.

Joshua is now living in Cairns, where he is immensely inspired by the rich tropical flora and fauna, striking colours and diversity of landscape and culture.

Joshua is currently working on a series of reduction prints, some sculptural forms and paintings.  He believes that creating art is as healing for the soul of the artist as for those who wish to admire it.

Pamela Kusabs

Born in New Zealand, Pamela spent her formative years living in a regional centre surrounded by farmland and temperate rainforest, which set the scene for her living a creative life in Cairns. 

The surrounding verdant tropical rainforest in Far North Queensland provides a plethora of inspiration for her to create. For many years, having actively pursued the domestic arts and craft, Pamela was introduced to the world of contemporary basketry in Cairns and has been honing her skills, using predominantly natural materials sourced from the garden, ever since. 

Running alongside this strand of creative practice, for a number of years Pamela was learning to draw via correspondence. This led her to TAFE and to study visual art.

The joy of absorbing the world of contemporary art, learning drawing and painting skills has enabled Pamela to widen her perspective on art and life. Influenced by the natural environment, Pamela’s skills, learned from her early craftwork, is incorporated.

Pamela now sees herself as a contemporary basketmaker/sculptor and visual artist who enjoys walking into a new creative territory, embracing challenges, and new experiences.

Robert Tommy Pau

Robert Tommy Pau was born in Townsville in 1967. Having grown up in the Torres Strait and on the Australian mainland, he has experience both a cultural lifestyle and an urban lifestyle which are reflected in his art. Throughout his life, Robert has always been fascinated by comic hyper-realism and religious art which was what was available to him growing up. Going to school in Cairns he was captivated by Greeks and Roman cultures as well.

While completing a certificate in art at the Cairns TAFE Robert made connections in the art scene in Cairns and establish a working relationship with many artists and arts organisations in Cairns, which become his mentors and colleges.

Robert is on a journey to discover his own style, which he visually expresses in his current works. He dabbles in multidiscipline mediums having settled recently on prints.  

Robert won the Works of Paper category at the 2016 Telstar Art Award. Robert also has works in public and private collection.


Fiona O'Neill - 100 Shades of Grey, 2019 
Oil on linen

This work is inspired by the sculptural nature and perceived surface variations found in oyster shells – the luminous iridescent colours inside the shell, and the contrast with the rough exterior.  The peculiar form, size, and colour sea-dwelling molluscs hold a strong fascination for me, as an artist and an eater!

Working in oil paints I revisited this work over a period of time until it was completed.  Oysters continue to be a recurring theme throughout my arts practice due to my curious interest in their bizarre aesthetic value. 

Olivia Azzopardi - Blinkers and Lenses, 2017
Pen, ink, graphite and gouache on illustration board

Spending most of my life in Far North Queensland, I’m inadvertently inspired and visually consumed by the shapes, forms and colours of the tropical growth of FNQ. I specialise in drawing and ceramics, intertwining both mediums with the same themes; meticulous detail, refinement and tone through flora, fauna, people and places.

I draw to captivate a sense of realism while juxtaposed with dreamy surrealism. Illustrations and stories are a strong influence in my work. The people and characters are lost in a primitive, natural world that is both protective and threatening.

Joshua Percival - Dawn of Swamphen, 2018
Reductive lino print in oil-based ink

This print was inspired in part by a life-long interest in birds and our local environment, with its many waterways and water-based ecosystems.  Areas such as Centenary Lakes are home to the swamphen which is in its element there; an often-shy bird that is uniquely extravagant when it chooses to present itself, delicately treading lily pads with its lengthened toes, although sometimes only a splash of red and blue and black is seen on the dawn of a new day.

The hands-on technique of reduction lino printing is a fascinating approach to printing; the meditative carving of the lino panel between colour prints, making a decision on how much of the previous colour to retain, knowing that once the next colour is printed, there is no option to go back.  There remains an element of mystery within this technique – you are aiming for a particular direction, yet you are at the mercy of the process.         

Pamela Kusabs - In the Stillness, 2018
Gouache, graphite pencil on paper

During my studies as a visual art student at TAFE, I have been giving thought as to what themes I might select to create a body of work, which materials I would choose, and how would I like the work to look.  This series “In the Stillness” is a merging of themes I am drawn to – still life, interiors, nature, collage and colour. The quietness of still life, and paintings of interiors appeals.

Initially, a bottle in our studio with an interesting motif caught my attention. I then incorporated other elements such as dried Mangosteens and a bowl. I enjoy creating mixed media works on paper, and then deconstructing the images, replacing them on the surface and embellishing them with paint both acrylic, gouache, or pencil. I look forward to developing and creating more works of this kind, making work that I trust will be restful and give a viewer a reason to pause – even just for a moment.

Robert Tommy Pau - Milk Tin Trains, 2013
Vinyl cut relief print on paper 

We would collect empty milk tins, punch a hole at both ends and put a wire through it, then fill it with sand and pull it along with a rope. Sometimes we would attach three or four to make long train.

The bead around the boy's neck is made from fruits such as gooseberry or Eror (Bell Fruit) that we ate when hungry. The plant is the cassava plant. My mum had a big cassava plantation in our yard and would keep it clean every day and that is where we played at times.

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