Design Tracks: discovering new perspectives


Design Tracks Creative Pathways Program is a three-day residential program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students from Queensland schools. Hosted annually by QAGOMA Learning, ‘Design Tracks’ brings together students from metropolitan, regional and remote locations who work alongside guest mentors from the Creative Industries. The program provides participants with an immersive experience that enables them to develop skills and build confidence within a peer-led environment. The students explore creative practices, gather inspiration and discover new perspectives as they work together on a creative project.

In 2020, ‘Design Tracks’ looked a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions. The program was delivered virtually with students from seven schools — Foxwell State Secondary College (Coomera), James Nash State High School (Gympie), Nambour Secondary College, Meridan State College (Caloundra), Toowoomba State High School, Brisbane School of Distance Education and St Ursula’s College (Toowoomba).

Kit of materials sent to students for the Design Tracks virtual workshop

The virtual workshop ‘Pigment and Paper: Explorations in Poetry and Art’ involved papermaking, poetry and writing and creating pigments to develop personal responses to NAIDOC Week theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’. The students developed creative pieces using a kit of materials supplied by QAGOMA Learning. Guest mentors included artist Dale Harding — Bidjara, Ghungalu, Garingbal (Central QLD), artist and designer Jenna Lee — Larrakia, Wardaman (NT) Karajarri (WA), and author and poet Ellen van Neerven — Mununjali Yugambeh (SE QLD). 

Debbie Brittain is Project Officer QAGOMA Learning

Foxwell State Secondary College Visual Art teacher, Jody Swader and Head of Inclusion, Victoria Leadbeatter explain their students’ experience of 2020 ‘Design Tracks’.

‘You may have heard that Design Tracks was a little different for everyone in 2020 but as a Foundation School this was our students very first chance to engage with the program…and it didn’t disappoint. The different delivery mode afforded our young students with the opportunity to be a part of this unique and exciting program, helping them build connections with older students and role models through the online learning platform.

With growing anticipation and enthusiasm of the program starting our students received their resource packages from QAGOMA, which gave them a glimpse into the culturally meaningful and engaging program that lay ahead. Through Paper, Pigment and Poetry our students explored their own connection to country and experimented with different modes of expressing themselves.

Visiting QAGOMA in 2021 as a culminating event was a first time to a gallery for some of our students and they were awestruck as they were able to tour the exhibition of Gordon Bennett and see Dale Harding’s artworks. Three Foxwell students were honoured to be chosen to work with David Williams from Gilimbaa to voice record the combined poetry piece created by all students.

The Design Tracks program was certainly an incredible opportunity for our young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, giving them an unforgettable experience to work alongside established Indigenous Australian creative artists and mentors, and to be inspired by the Creative Industries. Through the Design Tracks program, our students learnt the importance of connecting today with yesterday and tomorrow, and how they can use creativity as a means of sharing and celebrating culture.’

Design Tracks mentor artist Dale Harding discusses his artworks with the students
Design Tracks students explore ‘Unfinished Business: The Art of Gordon Bennett’

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Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.