Ashley Godfrey had just taken a gap year, saving money for a move to Brisbane to study at Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art, when she received a call that changed her life.

Until then, Ashley was making ends meet by delivering phone books door to door and working in a jewellery store in her home town of Hervey Bay.

The talented artist’s early career ambition was to become a tattooist, although she was advised that dabbling in ink would still require some form of study in art.

That led her to enrol at QCA to undertake a Bachelor of Fine Art. Now, with the first semester of her degree completed, Ashley has expanded her career options beyond the humble tattoo parlour.

“Right now I’m not sure what I plan to do, but it’s been a pretty exciting time and I have learned a lot,” she said.

Ashley is the inaugural recipient of the $10,000 Art in Bark Bursary which supports students from remote or regional areas of Queensland.

“When I got the call telling me I had been selected, it was something I never expected,” she said.

“I was trying to save money to move to Brisbane because I didn’t want to put any stress on my mum.

“The bursary has made such a huge difference to my life, especially with the cost of moving from Hervey Bay.”

Brisbane’s vibrant art scene

Ashley is making the most of Brisbane’s vibrant art scene, taking on an extracurricular course in street art during her first semester break.

“That was a great experience where we painted a giant mural inside an office building,” she said.

Queensland College of Art students painting a mural for Brisbane office building.

Queensland College of Art students and their completed mural at a Brisbane office.

Dr Susan Ostling, Senior Lecturer at QCA, described Ashley as a worthy recipient of the inaugural Art in Bark bursary.

“She’s a very keen student who has a real appreciation of the bursary, and it has done wonders for her confidence and motivation,” she said.

While this is the first bursary offered to QCA students, Dr Ostling said there was opportunity to build on the program and offer a lasting legacy for students.

Rural and regional fine arts

“Art in Bark is an organisation deeply rooted in the beauty of Australia’s natural environment, so it was a natural fit that this bursary helps students of the fine arts from rural and regional Queensland,” she said.

Art in Bark is a non-profit association that was formed in 1973 to encourage the appreciation of native flora and fauna. The association is particularly focused on the growing of Melaleuca trees, whose colourful, textured bark is used by members to create bark pictures.

Art in Bark President Barbara Parker said the bursary was made possible through a lasting legacy of past and present members of the association.

“We are pleased to be able to support a young artist from regional and rural Queensland to pursue a career in art,” Mrs Parker said.

“This has been made possible through the many years of hard work by our members and their love of the uniquely Australian art form of bark painting. We are very fortunate to be in a position now to introduce this bursary for a talented young artist.”

The $10,000 Art in Bark Bursary is open for 2017 with applications closing on January 13.