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Encouragement and isolation let art flow for Olivia

Encouragement and isolation let art flow for artist olivia art
Pale Blue Dot by CQUniversity Digital Media graduate, Olivia Halpin. Photo: contributed.

Olivia Halpin spent a year stuck at home to help keep her family healthy – now the Digital Media graduate's debut exhibition at Bundaberg School of Arts is set to connect audiences with imaginative new worlds.

Living in Bundaberg with her immunosuppressed parents during the COVID pandemic, aspiring artist Olivia Halpin spent a year stuck at home to help keep her family healthy.

In the evenings, she’d spend hours on the phone to her partner, drawing as she chatted.

“I was half-way through my Digital Media degree with CQUniversity – but the pandemic meant classes were remote – so having free time and routine made me improve my art at a rapid pace,” she explained.

A keen creative since early high school, Olivia was determined to prove herself, in the face of challenges.

“At high school my friend and I didn’t fit the mold, we were getting terrible grades and I had to drop my art subject,” she said.

“We decided to prove them wrong and teach ourselves how to draw and improved alongside each other.”

In her first year at CQU, negative feedback on her entry at a local show was disheartening.

“Funnily enough, I had my illustration and visualisation class right after that – and even though I felt miserable and didn’t want to participate, my lecturer came over and complimented my art,” Olivia said.

“She gave me helpful pointers of where I could improve and treated me with respect – it completely changed my opinion on art classes and made me realise that I had a lot of skill that I could continue to improve on.”

Now just a year after graduating from her Bachelor of Digital Media, Olivia’s proving herself on the walls of the Bundaberg School of Arts, with a debut exhibition celebrating fantasy, magic and wonder.

Mangaka Magic showcases Olivia’s original manga characters, and began with her tenacity, and CQU connections.

“This year, I entered the digital art section of the Bundaberg Show, and my former lecturer Regina (John Luan) happened to be organising that section.”

The CQU Digital Media lecturer passed on an offer to buy Olivia’s artwork, and suggested an anime and manga exhibition.

The free exhibition opens on Saturday 25 November, runs until Saturday 2 December, and also features work from locals Alexandra Rand, Helena Cartner, and Christina Kranenfeld.

Ms John Luan said Mangaka Magic was supported by Bundaberg Regional Council, and part of an ongoing opportunity for emerging artists.

“This event serves as a fantastic platform to foster engagement within the field of study, whether students are currently enrolled or have already graduated from the Bachelor of Digital Media program,” Ms John Luan said.

She said her favourite work in the exhibition is Pale Blue Dot, depicting a female “being of creation, floating above the clouds, creating a magic water bubble to allow the beta fish to swim”.

Olivia hopes to pass on her passion for art through a future teaching career, and she credits CQUniversity for the broad opportunities ahead.

“My studies at CQU have allowed me to have so many pathways into so many different career options,” she said.

Olivia shares her work on social media as MatildaSaurus on Instagram and MatildaSaurusPaint on TikTok.

Discover CQUniversity’s art and digital media courses at, just search “media”.

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