Within the walls of the University of Southern Queensland Art Gallery in 2022 was a Guyumba artwork containing a silhouetted tree, standing in stark contrast to raging vibrant shades of red, orange, and purple.

As a finalist in the inaugural First Nations Art Competition last year, seventeen-year-old Isabel Natividad embraced the theme ‘Heal Country’ and created a beautiful dot painting to honour a vivid memory. “Guyumba is the Wakka Wakka word for ‘light a fire’. In 2019 our country was ravaged by flames – a destructive force that brought many communities to their knees,” Ms Natividad said. But a flame is also a tool of rebirth and creation. All pasts are built upon flames and all futures start with a spark of hope, beginning a new age of healing and reconnecting with our country,” she said.

University of Southern Queensland Curator (Arts and Exhibitions) Brodie Taylor said Southern Queensland Landscapes started the competition to help give First Nations artists from the 28 Nations throughout southern Queensland a vehicle to connect with other artists and a platform to showcase their talent. “We’re absolutely thrilled that the exhibition is returning this year and that our region’s First Nations artists will have another opportunity to enhance their artistic voices,” Mr Taylor said. “The artworks we received last year were incredible and we’re looking forward to having even more on display for all of our community.”

Applications are now open for the 2023 First Nations Art Competition, to be on show at the University of Southern Queensland Art Gallery from July 7 to September 1.

Readers also enjoyed our story about Grand Champion of Paintings 2023