Emerging artists in the spotlight at graduate exhibitions

A collage work by QCA graduating student Edwina McLennan - one of hundreds of pieces on display at this year's Graduate Exhibitions.

More than a thousand art lovers will visit the Queensland College of Art (QCA) at South Bank and the Gold Coast this month for the annual Graduate Exhibitions.

The shows are essential viewing for those looking for the art world’s “next big thing”, with hundreds of works by talented final-year students on display.

The exhibitions feature works by students graduating from the Visual Arts, Design and Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art programs. Many are for sale, helping kick-start the careers of these emerging artists.

QCA Director, Professor Elisabeth Findlay, said the exhibitions were a chance for people to see pieces by talent being nurtured in their hometown.

“The QCA is one of Australia’s oldest and largest art schools and has produced some of the country’s leading contemporary artists,” she said.

“These showcase exhibitions are an ideal way to see the many diverse and exciting art forms the QCA has on offer and the extraordinary work being made here.”

Madeleine Draheim

Madeleine Draheim majored in Painting at the QCA’s South Bank campus and creates striking abstract works that use colour, form and graphic imagery from cartoons, video games and movies.

“I was able to develop my practice and discover the path I want to take my own art thanks to the teachers at QCA,” she said.

“Every teacher you meet has a unique perspective and approach to art which really encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone.”

“My advice to new students would be to never hold back. If there is something you really want to do, there will always be a way to achieve that.”

Dylan Sarra

Dylan Sarra is graduating from the Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art (CAIA) and has twice been a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards during his studies at Griffith.

CAIA has established the careers of many leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, including Vernon Ah Kee, Dale Harding and Tony Albert. Dylan said he had found a community of collaborators within the program.

“It doesn’t take long to notice a real sense of community and belonging within the space,” he said.

“It’s this feeling of belonging that gives you the security to explore your own cultural identity.”

The Taribelang Gooreng Gooreng artist uses his art to explore issues of identity and place across print, digital and sculpture.

Edwina McLennan

“I thought I was coming to QCA to learn how to become a better painter, but it didn’t take long to see that I had a wider skill set and what really mattered was the power of storytelling.”

Edwina McLennan majored in Sculpture (Expanded Practice) at QCA. The graduate exhibition showcased a series her works featuring collaged images in textiles, painting and found objects.

Edwina said a recent internship at the Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) had also sparked her interest in art curation.

“This year I also had the opportunity to have my work included in a show at POP Gallery on Brunswick Street, one of the five QCA gallery spaces available to student,” she said.

“Along with my internship at GUAM, it was a great opportunity to work with other artists, show my work and gain experience in how exhibitions are put together.”

There is more information about the graduate shows online. You can also follow the QCA’s talented graduates on Instagram.