HomeCommunityPeopleJennifer receives OAM for lifetime of art service

Jennifer receives OAM for lifetime of art service

artist Jennifer McDuff Order of Australia Medal OAM King's Birthday
Local artist Jennifer McDuff has been recognised for lifetime commitment to the arts with an Order of Australia Medal in the King's Birthday 2023 Honours List. Photo: Sabrina Lauriston

Dedicating more than 50 years to the arts Jennifer McDuff has been recognised for lifetime commitment with an Order of Australia Medal in the King's Birthday 2023 Honours List.

Jennifer’s personal experiences have shaped her art career, which has had many highlights and enabled her to build lasting relationships in the arts industry both locally, nationally and internationally.

Born in Childers Jennifer’s passion for the arts came as she completed high school.

“There was no art practice when I went through school. In Year 12 I didn’t get the results I had wanted, so I repeated Year 12 and refocused with the support of a wonderful art teacher,” Jennifer said.

This guidance inspired Jennifer to pursue a career as an art teacher, educating students around the region, including at Isis and Kepnock State High Schools, Shalom College, and Central Qld University, from 1970 to 2003.

Alongside this she built her career as an artist with her initial goal of holding her own art exhibition high on her list of priorities.

“A highlight, and something important, was for me to exhibit – it was the very first thing I wanted to do when I knew I could do art,” she said.

“I held my first exhibition in 1970-71 in Rockhampton.

“It was this exhibition and working with young students that stands out the most – I believe creative arts is very essential.”

Since then Jennifer has been part of close to 100 solo and group exhibitions during her career and her work is held in significant regional, state and national art collections, including Parliament House in Canberra and Brisbane.  

She has also completed a number of public art projects throughout Queensland and she has been heavily involved in regional and remote work through her involvement with Flying Arts Alliance, Creative Regions, and various other arts organisations. 

One of the highlights of her career was the completion of an artwork series titled One Man’s War, which included 22 etchings focused on the experiences of her husband Barry, who was a Vietnam Veteran.

This series of works were later acquired by the Australian War Memorial and are part of their significant art collection.

Jennifer’s work has formed part of a number of curated exhibitions for Bundaberg Regional Galleries, including Walking on Eggshells, Threads that Bind, and the touring exhibition Boom Baby Boom.

The inaugural King's Birthday 2023 Honours List recognised 1,192 recipients from around Australia, including awards in the Order of Australia, meritorious awards and recognition for distinguished and conspicuous service.

Jennifer said she was pleasantly surprised by her OAM nomination and award, and she would be forever grateful for the recognition of her service to the local art community.

“I have had no time to absorb it actually, I feel very privileged to be acknowledged in this way, as art is my love and I couldn’t think of anything better to be involved in,” she said.

“Nobody seeks this kind of recognition and for it to come when you haven’t sought it is very special.”

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