Creative Industries


18 May 2020

QUT students working with Cape York Indigenous artists to bring art to the runway have embraced the virtual, pivoting plans to showcase their fashion collection from the physical to the digital.  

Fashion and media students began collaborating this semester with artists from the Hope Vale Arts and Culture Centre to design and make a cohesive collection with textiles based on the artists’ paintings. The project also involves the students documenting their progress and promoting the collaboration through website and social media videos, blogs and other activities.

The Hope Vale x QUT Fashion project has run each year since 2018, with collections debuting at the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

This year due to COVID-19, the project and planned runway show have switched to the virtual. It puts the students on the same plane as global fashion houses which have also had to explore how to best capture their couture digitally to take part in online fashion week events. 



“We’ve certainly had to adapt our work styles,” said student team member Grace Wallington, who’s in the final semester of her Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in fashion communication, public relations and marketing.

“We are missing the usual interaction of being on campus but our whole project team is connecting really well online and the fashion designers are cutting and sewing at home.

“With the digital printing houses closed and textiles not able to be produced, and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair moving to a virtual format, we’ve had to think creatively about how we can deliver the collection and use the digital tools available to do that.

“It’s been a challenge, but we’ve learnt so much along the way.” 

Designs by students Jacinta Winnington-Martin and Amy Garrett.


Creative Industries Faculty fashion lecturers and project mentors, Lydia Pearson and Dr Hilde Heim, have been impressed with how the students have taken all the changes in their stride.

“We were worried about how restrictions would impact the project, but the students haven’t been fazed at all,” Dr Heim said.

“They’re encouraging each other and they’re excited that they are creating something different and new. They are very much real-world learning.”

The student fashion designers, one of whom lives in Coffs Harbour and another in Rockhampton, were emailed pattern blocks and mailed necessary fabrics and supplies to make practice toiles and their final garments at home.

“We encouraged the students with their toiles to use what fabrics they had on hand if they could, like an old bedsheet or old curtains,” Ms Pearson said.

“For their finished garments, as they don’t have the patterned textiles, we’ve sent them a range of white material, mainly bridal fabrics, of different types and weights for texture and sculpture.”

The white garments will be put on mannequins in a black studio and a digitized artwork projected onto each for filming. With an artistic studio approach, high-tech wizardry and special effects, a showcase runway video will be created.

The students have named their collection Guuliil, the Guugu Yimithirr word for jellyfish. In keeping with the climate change theme of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair it will explore the importance of harmony and balance within ocean life. They are hoping to be able to get T-shirts with the artwork designs screenprinted so that these can be available through the Hope Vale Arts and Culture Centre. 


Hope Vale artists involved in the projects are Esmae Bowen, Madge Bowen, Gertie Deeral, Wanda Gibson, Shane Gibson, Phyllis Gibson, Daisy Hamlot and Grace Rosendale.    

The student fashion designers are Eurry Choi, Miranda Daly, Amy Garrett, Shannon Holloway, Polly Mckevitt and Jacinta Winnington-Martin, and in the project media team are Jemma Bury, Riley Harding, Chavelle Koh (who helped produce the 'Fashion in the virtual' video above), Emma Ruddick, and Grace Wallington.                                  

You can follow the students' progress via the project website, Facebook and Instagram.

Main image top: artwork by Shane Gibson (Baby Turtle Rushing for the Ocean)

QUT Media contacts: Karen Milliner, 07 3138 1841 or
After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901 or


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