Gubbi Gubbi artist Maggie-Jean Douglas, who grew up in Bundaberg, has won the 2021 National NAIDOC Poster competition from a record 260 entries.
Maggie-Jean describes herself as “a proud murri”.
Her mob is Gubbi Gubbi from the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland though she grew up on Goreng Goreng Country and has been living on Ngunnawal Country for the past three years.
Maggie-Jean is a former student of Bundaberg East State School and Bundaberg Christian College.
She said she had always “had an appreciation for anything that involved creating” and her earliest memories of being inspired by art came from her Aunty’s artworks.
But it wasn’t until she moved away from the Bundaberg Region three years ago that Maggie-Jean turned to art as a way to cope with the disconnect from friends and family.
“[I] never thought I’d be able to create it the way I have over the past few years,” Maggie-Jean said.
“I’ve wanted to enter [the NAIDOC Week poster competition] for a few years but didn’t feel like I could represent the themes well enough.”
Maggie-Jean said she entered the competition for the first time this year as she “felt really strongly about the theme and what it represents for our community”.
Her artwork, Care for Country, is about how Country has cared for and healed First Nations people in all senses of the meaning for so long.
“I think the past few years have felt particularly draining for our community and I agree that it’s time for healing and repairing,” she said.
“When creating Care for Country, I kept in mind that this meant spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally.”
Her bright and vibrant artwork includes the different colours of landscapes around Australia to show how “they come together in our beautiful country and to make people feel hopeful for the future”.
When she found out she had won this year’s NAIDOC poster competition, Maggi-Jean couldn’t believe it at first.
“It’s such an important time of year and to have created an artwork that the National NAIDOC Committee felt was a good representation of the theme means so much to me.”
For Maggie-Jean, winning the poster competition is extra special as NAIDOC Week is one of her favourite times of the year.
“I’m not sure why but I always feel extra proud to be Indigenous through NAIDOC Week.
“I love knowing there’s people around Australia doing more than usual to celebrate us, our history and our culture.”
Maggie-Jean’s greatest hope for her artwork is that it can help “Indigenous people to feel hopeful and encouraged to keep fighting for positive change and to protect our culture”.
Digital downloads for the 2021 National NAIDOC Week will be available shortly. Free printed copies will be available in the coming weeks through the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s regional network.
Some of Maggie-Jean’s other artistic achievements include being commissioned for artworks for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland Branch and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Office of the Pacific.
In 2020, she won the Ruby Olive Jewellery Women for Women lanyard design competition.