Be Inspired

Meet Artist Maria Watson-Trudgett

This inspiring Indigenous Artist will be exhibiting at the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition for the first time

Maria Watson-Trudgett

Two years ago Maria Watson-Trudgett moved from New South Wales, settling in a beautiful area of West Moreton. Maria’s decision to leave personal turmoil and struggles with mental health also meant she was leaving behind strong connections with the art community. Now determined to establish herself in Queensland and share her personal story through her artwork, Maria is excited to be showing her style for the first time at the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition – an exhibition aiming to raise awareness of mental health recovery and wellbeing.

“I was looking for places to start showing again, places to exhibit annually. I used to paint for the Mental Health Art Week on the Central Coast for years and was fortunate enough to sell every piece that went in and win awards.”

Maria was glad she became aware of the exhibition and noted “it is very important for other people to be aware that at any one time, any one of us can become mentally disordered for any reason – a loss of somebody, high pressure stresses at work etc. and of course you’ve got people that live with mental illness all the time.”

Maria has great empathy for people with mental illness, having worked in a psychiatric ward for nearly 10 years, she is pleased to be involved with the Exhibition and its message. “It’s a great and important outlet for people to express themselves and let other people know. You may work alongside someone for decades and not even know or realise that this person struggles and doesn’t share that with you.”

An advocate of mental health awareness working with carers and parents of Indigenous autistic children in her day job, Maria is also an activist and role model for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, promoting Indigenous culture and telling the Wiradjuri people’s story through her art. Using her painting to relieve the stress and pressure of being a mature age university student in 2009, an Aboriginal Elder of the university heard Maria was painting and conveyed that she had a responsibility to share her culture through her art, despite difficulties due to broken lineages with few stories passed on to her. The damage of colonisation and the impact it had upon the Indigenous people made it all the more important for Maria to share her knowledge in her own way.

“My art is not traditional because I have not been handed down stories that are of a traditional knowledge. Because of our broken lineages as an Aboriginal person, my grandfather didn’t pass on his stories to tell because he had a disconnection as well. My dad told me small parts, little bits. Finding out about my culture has been on my own journey, my own accord and that’s why I can tell some stories through my art now. My artwork is more contemporary and I do live now in a more contemporary society.”

Maria explained that ‘Dot-art’, originated because the First Peoples who began painting and showing their art to non-Indigenous Australians were safe guarding their traditional culture and stories that had been passed on to them for many generations. Therefore the use of dots was to cover up parts of the particular sacred story they were painting.

“Because their artwork was going to be shared, but the stories were not, that’s why the dots came in – to cover up the story, cover up the truth. We could give you a part of it but we couldn’t give you all of it.” she said.

Maria does not use dot-work as much as she used to. She has become looser and freer in her style, using bright, bold colours. “I don’t have a traditional story per se to share so it’s more about parts of my culture and the knowledge I do know that I share.”

Initially Maria didn’t see herself as an artist but due to her obligation to her people, she entered exhibitions and was repeatedly recognised for her ability with prizes and artwork that kept selling. Maria has also collaborated on artwork with non-Indigenous artists and won awards. A significant feather in Maria’s cap was being chosen as a finalist in the Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize in 2015, and exhibiting in NSW Parliament House. The collection then travelled to different galleries throughout Australia.

Now that Maria feels comfortable acknowledging herself as an artist, she has built up a portfolio of commissioned works across the country and donated art for raising funds for Aboriginal scholarships and causes. A commissioned artwork has even made its way to Colorado, USA.

All this exposure is helping Maria follow through with the story-telling responsibility bestowed upon her 10 years ago. So much of Maria’s life has led her to this path and she is determined to promote cultural awareness and reconciliation.

“I am very passionate about sharing my culture through my art with non-Indigenous people. To share an appreciation and a respect for Country and the land on that they live, the people around them and the Aboriginal people that can share their learnings with them so that they can be culturally appropriate and aware. In my job I lead a team of non-Indigenous people with our Reconciliation Action Plan and knowledge and appreciation of how to work alongside and be more culturally appropriate and respectful.”

Maria shared her perspective on how things have changed in terms of reconciliation, she recounted stories her father and grandfather shared:

“I still remember stories told to me by my father – stories of racism and being called derogatory names all of his working life. Dad shared with me stories of not being allowed to go swimming in the local pool, the movie theatre or public house. Aboriginal people were even required to get permission to travel into another suburb of Sydney, and they could not move into another state or purchase land where they choose until after the 1967 Referendum. Also, pay wasn’t the same – Aboriginal people would be paid in salt, sugar, flour, meat or tobacco instead of money. Such gross inequality! Nowadays, when the Australian Government does a health campaign on stopping smoking or reducing sugar, this can causes great confusion in Aboriginal communities, as the understanding of our Old People is ‘that’s how we were paid’. Having experienced such discrimination most of his life, my dad can’t see how mindsets of our shared history are starting to change, because he’s lived a negative experience for such a long time.”

Maria commends the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people and comments that today there’s more acceptance, jobs and equality for Aboriginal people and there are non-Indigenous people trying to learn and work together with Aboriginal people.

Now a Queenslander, Maria hopes she can share her story of who she is and where she is from to a new audience. “I tend to paint in a lot of waterholes, billabongs, rivers and streams because Wiradjuri means the people of the three rivers. I tend to share a story about my artwork through that, so that enlightens people of who I am, what my culture is, what Wiradjuri means. It’s important for me to share with non-Indigenous people a cultural appreciation and awareness of our shared history, our shared culture, which they may not have already known.”

Exhibiting for the first time at this Exhibition, Maria is excited to see what other artists are showcasing. A lover of all art, her philosophy of ‘There is no wrong with art’ promises surprise and delight when she sees the diverse pieces on display, especially with the exhibition focus on mental health awareness.

“If somebody is expressing something that is coming out within them and they may not be able to talk about what’s going on, or about a struggle – if they can express that and get it out then that’s healing. And that becomes wellbeing rather than a mental illness or mental stuff that builds up and stays inside. I’m looking forward to seeing everything – there is no wrong.”

Maria hopes the public will come away enlightened, more sensitive and less judgmental about mental illness after seeing the artwork and reading their accounts which accompany the pieces.

“Most people that live with mental health issues, they’re hiding who they are. Putting on a brave face, putting on a mask and going out to work. Then you get home and have a meltdown. That’s not the true person they are and I’ve lived that. When I was going through my very bad clinical depression and suicide attempts I would be going to uni – normal and vivacious, working in the job I was in for 30 years. You had to put on this big mask and a cover up. People need to come to the exhibition to become ‘aware’ and hopefully it prompts people to say to a colleague, ‘are you ok?’.”

To help Maria share her Indigenous story, come along to the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition and discover why painting is her true calling. Having grown from her experiences and tapping into her intuitive and spiritual side, Maria is now doing what brings her happiness. “What can I do or give that the public like? The answer to that is my art. This is something innate to me that’s always been there – my purpose in life is to share my art.”

The 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition is being held in the Toowong Room in Brisbane City Hall from 5-11 October 2019. Additional artwork will also be on display in the People’s Gallery from 4-9 October.
Entry is free and all artwork is for sale. Take time to experience this very special Queensland Mental Health Week event.
For further details visit the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition Information page or follow RFQ on social media for updates. To visit the facebook event listing click here.

T: 07 3363 2555

Meet Artist Carrie Davies

Carrie will be featuring her work at the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition, 5-11 October in the Toowong Room, Brisbane City Hall

Carrie Davies

Carrie Davies has been an artist for a while now, with a multitude of creations to show for it. Upon meeting her and seeing her collection of varied artistic styles across her walls, her sweet nature comes across in her artwork, with Carrie having a fondness for painting faces and an incredible talent for capturing so much in the eyes.

“I was always able to draw people,” she says, “people are fascinating.”

Expression, experimentation and emotion seem to be what drives Carrie’s art. Having people feel something, physically through texture or psychologically through visual perception is important to her. One technique Carrie has used that reflects this, is to build up her artwork with acid free tissue and layers of binding medium in between, so people who are visually impaired could feel the texture.

“One of the most rewarding things is when someone likes my work. I’ve been told my work is peaceful and healing, so if that’s the reception I get, that’s good,” she says.

Art and therapy have been an ongoing theme in Carrie’s life. In earlier years in her role as an assistant nurse, she started working with patients and artwork and found it very gratifying. Some of her patients started exhibiting for themselves and more recently, an organisation selected Carrie’s designs to feature on their coffee cups and saucers.

Art has also been a useful healing tool for herself and helped build her enthusiasm for creative expression. After a particularly difficult period in her life with her mental health and wellbeing, Carrie attended an art therapy group doing sculpture and painting. Her skillset, having originally focussed on drawing, was broadened towards new artistic directions as a result of art therapy.

“I was always able to draw people, but I’d never been able to paint and do sculpture until then. The art group connected me with some creative force inside myself that never really stopped after that. I kept going. Something positive came from sadness.”

In more recent times, Carrie has developed a signature style of what she likes to call, ‘splash art’. A cathartic experience, this release allows her to freely express herself without having to analyse her choices of colour or composition.

“I find this splashing technique very rewarding. It’s simply take a canvas outside where the splashes cannot effect anything and just splash on the grass and see what happens. What colours you choose, pick up and let them out. Just throw the tube of paint down. Some paintings have 50 tubes of paint in them, a canvas and energy.”

Carrie projects her mood into her artwork which creates a whole new look depending on her inspiration at the time. “Sometimes from a rewarding experience all of a sudden I think ‘oh goodness, the sun’s shining, let’s go outside and drag a canvas in the yard and grab some tubes of paint’, and off I go. If I’m not coming from a really great space – things can get on top of anyone – sometimes that image needs to be touched up afterwards, which is ok.”

“After it is done, it’s something that I’ve created and it’s such fun,” she says. “My inner child comes out to play with great joy.”

Having been described as an Abstract Expressionist, Carrie finds herself inspired by Australian artist, William Robinson AO, who she studied with for a couple of years. She is also a huge admirer of Arthur Boyd and Jackson Pollock, which is evident in her artistic style. In fact, ‘The Blues’ an artwork she has donated to the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition is inspired by Pollock’s ‘Blue Poles’, and Arthur Boyd’s work helps motivate her when she hits a creative block.

“Sometimes when I’m a bit stuck and I might be in the shed trying to get something on the canvas that’s not working, I’ll say, ‘Well come on Arthur, come out and play. I know you like getting your hands dirty so come on!’ I don’t know whether he really does listen to me, but it’s fun!”

At this year’s Exhibition Carrie will be exhibiting her popular cow paintings, which are sure to delight. Encouraged by a friend, Carrie’s artwork is inspired by her son who has a love for cows, so they are painted with him in mind.

The Exhibition aims to challenge the misconceptions of mental illness and promote a message of hope, recovery and wellbeing. This is why Carrie likes to exhibit her work at an event showcasing artists who face adversity with their mental health.

“I was very excited to exhibit with everyone and let them know that mental health issues do not stop me from being an artist. It might make me go a bit slower, but it certainly doesn’t stop me. Where it does hold me back is meeting a new art gallery and asking them to take me on, so I do find it a lot easier to exhibit at the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition and see what happens from there. I’m happy to show others how much fun it can be when you do it yourself. Have a go.”

If you would like to see an amazing array of artwork by a number of artists like Carrie Davies, come along to the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition, 5-11 October in the Toowong Room in Brisbane City Hall. Entry is free and all artwork is for sale. Tell your family and friends and experience something wonderful during Queensland Mental Health Week.
For further details visit the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition Information page or follow RFQ on social media for updates. To visit the facebook event listing click here.

T: 07 3363 2555

Meet Artist Febe Zylstra

Febe’s heart and soul goes into her artwork, which will be on display at the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition in October

Febe Zylstra

Febe Zylstra is the epitome of everything this Exhibition is about. An artist with a striking and unique style, she discovered her passion for painting when advised it might be a therapeutic process to explore after working through years of depression as a teenager, post-natal depression and anxiety – later thought to be related to bipolar disorder. This simple suggestion opened a door to a calling that has enabled Febe to express herself in a way that has helped her find a pathway to personal understanding and acceptance.

“My paintings are both a direct reflection of my immediate surroundings, my emotions and an imaginary world that exists in my mind, a place that I go to, to escape and get lost within. Although most followers of my art know me for my figurative work, I often flitter between painting figurative, abstract and landscapes and often integrate these genres into one piece in an effort to capture a narrative, feelings and my emotions, that words can sometimes fail to describe.”

Febe says, “For me that’s why my art is so important – it’s art therapy for me, but it’s also about bringing out how I feel through my art and then sharing that. It will change because I don’t plan it, it’s just what comes out. What I paint is all very intuitive and spontaneous to the point that I don’t even know what I’m painting until it’s almost done.”

Talking to Febe, seeing her artwork, her varied images, and her distinctive style, you start to understand her process and feel the power of the emotion she has poured into each canvas. Living with bipolar disorder, her artwork reflects the mood and the emotions she is feeling at the time. According to Febe she just starts painting and hours can pass before she realises it. But a signature of hers is to incorporate totems and symbols in her work, like birds and balloons. She says, “This is usually when I make a conscious choice. They all reference something for me, they help tell the story with what’s in the art.”

Febe will be featuring some of her artworks at the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition, which will be open during Mental Health Week in early October. Events such as this exhibition are pivotal in capturing the wider public’s attention to push for a better understanding of mental illness and recovery. Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ) is hosting the exhibition and hopes artists with a lived experience of mental illness find that exposure of their artwork, along with accounts of their lives and inspirations, help the community see that mental illness doesn’t discriminate and is more common than generally thought.

“I hope the Exhibition helps to continue to break down the stigma and for those that live with mental health disorders, will get better support and understanding from their families, friends and the wider community.” Febe says. “I for one am extremely fortunate to have that support and it makes a huge difference to my mental health journey.”

Additional to this, Febe says the art exhibition enables people to open up and connect with her artwork, and seeing that happening is the number one thing she loves about making art. “As an artist I hope the viewer finds a personal connection with my art either emotionally or within their own life’s journey.”

“When you see someone totally mesmerized and engaged, it usually means they get it. I once had a lady openly crying in front of one of my paintings and I got concerned, But she told me she couldn’t believe how much emotion it had evoked in her and she didn’t feel alone anymore.”

Since the initial suggestion to explore art therapy, little did she realise that her painting would be going strong 22 years later, with career possibilities.

“I just started painting. Then I ended up continuing to do it and I just felt a release with it. It just evolved and it grew and I got better at what I was doing. It got to the point where I ended up doing a visual arts diploma to pull it all together. I wanted to know the business side of art, history of art, and the techniques I was using because I was self-taught.”

Juggling life as a single mum, nursing and doing her art on the side, her passion for painting was a welcome discovery as a formal bipolar diagnosis changed her life completely. Working in an era where the mere mention of mental health issues fostered fear and prejudice, Febe was told she could no longer nurse.

“That’s the thing with mental health, everyone treats what you’re diagnosed with as ‘this is how you should be, and this is what you should have done, and this is the treatment’, but not everyone is exactly the same. They don’t all fit in a box. It’s the same with treatment – what works for one person won’t work for the next. People have a preconceived idea of how you should be and it’s not always the case. A lot of it has to do with you as a person, your personality.”

“I’m an open book because I realised all the issues based around stigma of mental health, and because I had a nursing background, and because of what happened when I was no longer able to nurse due to the bipolar diagnosis – so I made a conscious effort of not hiding behind it. I think it helps people see that you’re just a normal person with a mental issue, the same as having a physical problem.”

“With a lot of celebrities coming and people feeling more comfortable talking about it, it’s great, because a big part of getting through a mental health episode is the support you get from your family, friends and community.”

The 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition provides Queensland artists with a connection to lived experience of mental illness with a platform to show their work, in an arena with their peers. Febe feels this is an amazing way to express oneself and even more significant if done as therapy.

“I know for myself it’s essential to maintaining my own mental health. There is such raw emotion in most of these works that you can feel the pain, sadness, happiness and every other emotion in between. Painting isn’t just a passion, but a daily need for me to function better within my life.”

If you would like to see Febe Zylstra’s work up close, visit the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition, 5-11 October, in the Toowong Room, Brisbane City Hall. All artwork is available for purchase and entry is free. Visit the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition Information page for further details or follow RFQ on social media for updates.

T: 07 3363 2555

Meet Artist Phoebe Hofsteede

Phoebe’s artwork will be on show at the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition

Phoebe Hofsteede

Five years ago Phoebe Hofsteede was walking through Brisbane city and came across a public art exhibition featuring a diverse range of artwork. Captivated by the variety of pieces on display, Phoebe was inspired to enter as well.

“The thing that struck me the most was firstly the accessibility because it was in the city and it was open to the public, and also the representation of people with lived experience of mental illness. That really spoke to my own experiences and I wanted to get involved because that’s something that means a lot to me.”

A photographic and mixed media artist, Phoebe visualises a concept and combines her photographs with crafting and collage skills. Using resources such as dried flowers or collage pieces, she creates stunning visuals that entice the viewer to stop and admire her pieces.

Inspired by nature, her artwork captures the beauty of a photograph with her personal creative touch. “Nature for me has always been a part of my life because I’ve grown up in the country, but it is my therapy. When I’m in nature I’m instantly calmed.”

Also inspired by her late aunt, Melbourne artist Juli Haas, Phoebe fondly remembers her work style and work ethic, and how she was an amazing person forging a career for herself. Phoebe also admires the work of Anne ten Donkelaar from the Netherlands, whose influence is evident with the beautiful presentations in Phoebe’s designs.

Phoebe’s first experience exhibiting at this Exhibition was a significant one, as it helped her realise she was a true artist.

“The first year I exhibited I went to the opening night and I was looking for my work. I saw sold signs on all of them and I started crying because I didn’t think someone would like my work enough to buy it. It was really humbling.”

Phoebe says seeing her artwork on display at events like the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition, and seeing people engaging with it, is exciting and a really nice feeling.

“I want people to be able to feel like they can relate to my art on some level or be able to learn something new. If the viewer doesn’t have any associations with mental illness or mental health I want them to be able to know about it – and for those who are struggling or looking for answers, I want them to feel like they’re not alone.”

The 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition is the perfect platform for artists with a lived experience wanting to get their start in the art scene and source exposure and experience. Acclaimed artists enter each year as this art exhibition provides a fantastic opportunity to display their work amongst a spectrum of unique pieces and styles by their peers.

“I always get blown away by the range of talent and the skills levels – there are so many different styles of art and different levels of artistic ability. Whether it’s a hobby or you’re a beginner or emerging artist, I love seeing all the different ranges of art.”

“There’s a sense of community and feeling like you’re part of something. It’s really special,” Phoebe says.

For visitors to the exhibition, Phoebe hopes the incredible range and diversity of art and ability brings to light the importance of mental health, and make people realise that suffering from a mental illness is more common than people realise. “Mental illness shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of and it should be treated in the same way as physical illness or inability. That’s what I hope the public takes away from the exhibition.”

“I really love this exhibition because it’s about something I’m passionate about.”

Artist Advice


“Get creative. Anything crafty or even colouring in books. I think they’re a good start because they have the design already there, it’s just a matter of picking and choosing what colours to use. Even collages, like going through old books or magazines and pictures online – I loved doing visual diaries when I was a student. If I couldn’t figure out my style first, I would find images I liked, print them out and then add them to a book, and then I could flip through and mix and match different pictures and other artists’ work. This helped me figure what I’m drawn to and how I can develop my style.”


“Totally do it. It doesn’t matter what skill level you’re at, because that’s the thing I’ve found with this exhibition – it welcomes all skill levels and all backgrounds. It’s nice to be part of something big and really awesome like this, especially if mental health is important to you, and as a form of expression.”

To see Phoebe’s beautiful images, put the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition from 5 – 11 October in your diary. It is being held in the Toowong Room of Brisbane City Hall and all artwork is available for purchase.

If you are an artist with a lived experience of mental illness, or you are a carer/family member of someone with lived experience, and would like to register to exhibit your own artwork at this event click here and register by Friday 12 July 2019. A flat rate Registration fee of $11 applies. Please read the Terms & Conditions.

T: 07 3363 2555

Meet Artist David Jones

David will be exhibiting at this year’s 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition

David Jones

David Jones is an artist with a distinctive style that pops no matter from where you’re viewing his art. With intricate details, his artwork draws you in and makes you ponder. There is so much to see, to examine, to comprehend – the detail inside the detail just keeps going. Having created so many artworks with his trademark imagery, he has solidified his style in the Brisbane art scene.

Painting different styles based on subject matter, he describes one of his signature styles as ‘cartoonesque iconography’ which incredibly, he draws from memory. Featuring objects that intersect with each other, balancing the relationship between images and positive and negative space, every iconic object is meticulously balanced to work with the narrative he wants to project.

Another style David explores is surrealist art, which he uses to look at hereditary mental illness. Using subject matter in a didactic approach, he encourages the viewer to look into his artwork more and more. Drawing away from the vivid colours of his cartoon style when producing surrealist pieces, he finds a restricted colour palette complements the subject matter and reinforces the bleak feeling he’s suggesting in his artwork.

David has exhibited at this Exhibition for 13 years. First submitting artwork in his university years, his popularity as an artist has flourished and he has experienced great success. The main reward is exposure and he now has become a well-known artist. David spoke to how he communicates through his art:

“I like people to engage with my work because a lot of it is so detailed. I like seeing people enjoy that experience of looking and discovering things in things, sub-narratives and narratives. I like to surprise the viewer.”

It’s not only David’s artwork that will surprise viewers. Everyone who attends RFQ’s 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition will be amazed at the eclectic and surprising artworks from all walks of life across the mental health recovery landscape.
“I’ve never really seen such a diverse arrangement of paintings all in one place. You don’t really get that in a normal gallery setting,” David says.

The 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition aims to challenge the misconceptions commonly associated with mental illness while promoting a deeper inclusivity throughout society. A signature event of Queensland Mental Health Week, the exhibition gives artists with a lived experience of mental illness a platform to showcase and sell their artwork in a professionally curated environment.
David says he hopes the public see that people affected by mental illness have incredible imaginations and ways of translating their thoughts and feelings into art. If viewers delve deeper into what the artist is trying to say, they might discover more insight and understanding into the ways others think.

“I like hearing different interpretations of ambiguous narratives of things I’ve created. It’s all different and, with abstract art, people are going to perceive something different.”

Artist Advice


“Look at other people’s work or things that you might have found that inspire you and look how how they [artists] have constructed something. You don’t necessarily emulate that, but you’ll get influenced by bombarding yourself with different artists and their artworks. I’m influenced by art that looks nothing like mine, certain techniques I might have adapted or appropriated in a different way.”

“Just keep painting. Just keep doing it.”


“Create 4 or 5 pieces and show them to your family and friends and see if there’s a unanimous couple of artworks that stick out. Hone in on the artistic style that’s working for you and evolve that style.”

“I think it’s a brilliant opportunity for exposure for everyone involved.”

To see more of David’s artwork, and maybe purchase one of his pieces for yourself, make sure you visit the 2019 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition from 5 – 11 October, in the Toowong Room of Brisbane City Hall.

If you would like to register to exhibit your own artwork at this event click here and register by Friday 12 July 2019. Registration costs $11. Please read the Terms & Conditions.

T: 07 3363 2555

Copyright © 2013, Richmond Fellowship Queensland. All rights reserved.