biographies

2016 SOLID SISTERS:


Christine Peacock practiced performance arts (acting, directing producing fringe and community theatre) in Sydney and the UK before training as a television producer with ABC Television, Sydney.  She is writer, producer, and director with Brisbane based Indigenous community media-arts organisation Uniikup Productions Ltd. (originally Murriimage Community Video and Film Service) established in 1986.  Christine directs Uniikup’s annual Colourise Festival staging media-art events in collaboration with community creActives, events and venues (details at www.colourise.com.au).  Christine completed an MA (Research) 2009 and PhD 2015 at the Creative Industries Faculty, Q.U.T. Brisbane, researching the media-arts processes and practice she developed in the Brisbane Indigenous community over 28 years.  She is descendent of land, place, people and history that is Erub in the Torres Strait Islands, born in Mareeba North Queensland (bordering on Kuka Yalanji and Djabuganjdi countries) and grew up in Ningy Ningy country at Redcliffe SE Queensland.  She is a parent of two and grandparent of one.

Colleen Johnson is currently based in Bundaberg, Queensland – her father’s hometown which is situated within the boundary of the Gooreng Gooreng peoples of South East Queensland. She wrote, acted, co-directed and edited a short film called "Bachelors of Batchelor" as a student of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education which is located two hours inland from Darwin, Northern Territory.  Graduating with a Diploma of Screen and Media, Colleen won the CAAMA Media Award for this little film which showcases the Batchelor township along with a flavour of comic storytelling.  Prior to this, Colleen also completed a Diploma of Creative Writing at the Institute which allowed her the privilege of combining and complementing her learnings at the all Indigenous Education Institute.

Diana Canto Moreno was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, has worked mainly in the field of culture by public administration in the state of Yucatan and transnational with migrants yucatecos in the United States way, political participation of the cultures of native peoples Latin America in Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico. Since 2016 she has worked in the private sector as Coordinator of Pueblo Maya Baktun Alliance, dedicated to promote, propose and implement programs, projects and actions together with the Maya people to strengthen cultural identity in the communities of the Yucatan Peninsula. "During my career I have found the true value of service and commitment to society. Work in the cultural field allowed me to acquire the vision of an applicant company, an approach to the arts in all its manifestations. Being in the service of the Maya People found a reappraisal of the importance of finding the wealth of our origins the necessary guidelines to give voice to the true demands of it and generate sustainable programs that meet their real needs that allow them to achieve progress through an absolute respect for their customs and traditions; in the same way that sensitizes society in general about the importance of valuing our cultural wealth within and outside the country, such as the migrant population of our organization. To achieve in society the true sense of multiculturalism, where the differences between the customs are taken for enrichment itself and not as a cause of separation between its members; and a Mayan town proud of its roots and traditions, that requires your needs while becoming self-advocate of progress, it has been and will always be my main motivation to continue to serve our population."

Emily Wurramara has become a seasoned performer who has taken her music around the country and abroad with show and festival appearances in Sweden and France. Closer to home she has performed at Gaarma Festival, Island Vibes, Woodford Folk Festival, Clancestry and numerous other events; performing alongside respected artists like Shellie Morris, Troy Cassar Daley and Impossible Odds.  This year Emily embarked on a national tour to launch Black Smoke – keeping it simple and speaking loud and proud about issues close to her heart. “I'm coated with nerves, disbelief, happiness and so much pride, just knowing I am representing my clan makes this even more special.” This is an artist on an important journey that’s only just beginning. Listen.

Jane Meeks is a painter whose work is informed by her years spent living with her extended family and the relationships that come from these experiences. She was born in Cairns and studied in Brisbane.  Jane has exhibited her work in the 2006 'Gatherings II’ exhibition in Brisbane and has completed many mural projects.  She currently works in the area of wellbeing and is based in Woorabinda.

Jenny Fraser was born in Far North Queensland and her old people originally hailed from Yugambeh Country in the Gold Coast Hinterland, near the South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales border.  In 2015 she was the first Murri to have her video art imprinted on a gold record and broadcast into outer space via Hobart and Cape Canaveral, Florida in the Forever Now project, as a follow-up to the Voyager Golden Records sent into space in 1977 by NASA.  This is the second SOLID SCREEN Festival and Retreat that she has presented. 

Joycelin Leahy : "I am part of a tribe, and I was raised by my grandmother and my mother. I am passionate about art and story-telling. Like many indigenous people who continue to struggle to hold on to their heritage, I feel that it is my responsibility to protect, preserve and sustain what belongs to my people. My work in museums, art, culture and heritage as well as my Blog www.tribalmystic.me are some ways I could promote and protect my heritage.  I come from a small village called Wagang, outside Lae, Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea. I am an Ahe woman. I studied Journalism (University of Papua New Guinea) and also completed a Masters in Museum Studies (University of Queensland, Australia). I have worked in both fields. While this kind of education is important for the world we live in, I have learnt more by following my mother, grandmother, uncles and aunties as I grew up. We learnt from our elders who taught us to connect with land, animals, and spirits of our ancestors that remains a powerful force within me. For example, if I hear certain birds cry, I know the messages they are sending me. My friends often joke that I am psychic as what we know in the western world, but really, the magic is in observing, being in, and feeling one with nature.  For tribal and indigenous people around the world, I would like to say: Please, fight to protect your heritage. Once you heritage is gone, it's lost. Speak and teach your languages to your children. Make time to practice. Write down all important stories, names, and landmarks or ancestry markings. Sing your songs and teach others."

Jules Koostachin was born  in  Moose  Factory  Ontario, and raised  by  her  traditional  Cree  speaking grandparents  in  Moosonee,  and  with  her  mother,  a  survivor  of  the  Canadian  Residential school system.  Jules is from Attawapiskat First Nation, Mushkekowok territory, and currently resides in Vancouver where she commenced her PhD at the University of British Columbia. 

Kathy Fisher worked with the Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agency in Brisbane for six years before establishing an unofficial Link-Up Service. She left the indigenous child welfare field to pursue a career in the performing arts with Aboriginal theatre groups.

Born in 1973, Krishna Nahow, is a Queensland artist of Vanuatu, Torres Strait Islander and English heritage. Krishna holds a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Art) and is currently studying her second degree in Occupational Therapy. Krishna has two sons and often travels to Vanuatu to reconnect with their family and the diverse cultures of her ancestors.

Linda Biumaiwai belongs to the Mununjali people of Beaudesert which forms part of the Yugambeh language region. A direct descendent of Bilin Bilin and Nellie with the Eagle/Mibun as her totem. As a mother she has an extensive family of children and grannies providing all the strength and direction needed to continue the work she does. Professionally Linda has almost 30 years’ experience working across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in executive, project management and board positions. These roles have been within the Australian and State Governments, Corporate, Community, Hospitality/Tourism and Sporting sectors. Residing on the Gold Coast she lives on her country keeping close connection with her community and mob. Director of the Preston Campbell Foundation and member of various committees and boards sees Linda working across areas such as education, employment, wellbeing and cultural responsibility aimed at building capacity for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Madeline Hodge was born in Brisbane in 1945, from the Bigambul Clan. Assimilated and educated in Brisbane City, but lived mostly on the Gold Coast. Madeline has been a painter, sculptor, lecturer, writer and involved in the Arts for over 40 years. She has been commissioned to do murals and other acquisitions all through Queensland and is in private collections all over the world.

Melissa Lucashenko is a Goori writer who has published five award-winning novels and has received a Walkley Award for her non-fiction work. She lives in Brisbane and the Scenic Rim. 

Michelle Blakeney is a Yaegl woman from the Far North Coast of New South Wales. She has been a photographer for several years, and her continuing passion and ambition is to document her own people's unique culture and history through photography.  It is this healing power of photography that fuels her love of the medium. Currently a resident of Sydney, Michelle branched out from her photographic practice to encompass screen-based practice.

Nicole Williams : "My name is Nicole Williams. I have cultural connections to Djungan Country in North West Queensland as well as Ugar (Stephen Island) in the Torres Strait. Like many educators I believe in education as a process for creating personal empowerment and a means for unlocking the cycles of poverty, racism and inequalities that have become all too familiar for many of us. I believe that education should be an experience that is welcoming, encouraging and practical. I am committed to providing learning experiences and situations that foster resilience, experimentation, understanding and determination. Education for me is wrapped and embraced in cultural understanding, cultural respect and cultural maintenance. I make every effort to encourage understanding through my art, both spoken and written."

Raier Blakeney : "I was born in Sydney and moved to the new south Wales central coast at the age of 11. Growing up I was inspired by many family members who were and still are involved in creative arts. I was apart of the cast for Pauline Whymans 2007 short film "back seat". When I was 13 I received an indigenous scholarship to attend boarding school where I was involved in many productions. This is where I really discovered and became involved in my passion for acting."

Rona Scherer arrived on the third rock from the sun through the meeting and marriage of a Ma:Mu woman and a Kuku Yalanji man. Having dabbled in art for many years, Rona finds herself on a journey of having her world view constantly changing as she explores the stories of her grandparents on both sides.  In recent years, Rona has been exploring her interest in photography which has bought forth a strong desire to return to her homelands in Far North Queensland to share her country through photos depicting Ma:Mu people’s deep connection to it.  Exhibitions have been a few collaborative events with fellow network members during the middle 2000;s.  Rona curated an art exhibition at Gaka Wolkai, a small Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultural festival on the Sunshine Coast of which she was a founding committee member.  Earlier this year, Rona took part in an online exchange through the University of Iowa, of Aboriginal photographers and writers from America and Australia.  Rona chose to feature a series of photographs offering an insight to the spirits of the past making themselves known when we walk through our country.  Having two children who are still finding their feet in the world, Rona sees her task of instilling knowledge of their culture as being crucial to ensuring they keep their connections to country to pass on to their children.
Sandra Phillips is the third daughter of Ruth Ross  nee Phillips and Hill of Gayndah (Wakka Wakka and Gooreng Gooreng) and Onslow Phillips of Cherbourg (dec. Batjala and Birri Gubba). Mother of three sons, Sandra is a fulltime academic at QUT Creative Industries. Recently elected chairperson of the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Inc (FNAWN), Sandra was also judge of the David Unaipon Award (2012-2016) and is ongoing Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre of Indigenous Story. With a PhD in Literary Studies (publishing studies) and 25 years working in and around literature, arts, and social research into Mob issues, Sandra believes story and kinship got us this far and they are our strengths that will keep us strong.

Sharon Mununggurr is a Koorie from varied ancestry , born in Echuca Sharon is a Wamba Wamba woman who grew up on the Murray River. Currently based in Brisbane , Sharon previously spent 20 years in North East Arnhem Land.  Sharon has been involved in Aboriginal health and justice throughout her life. Sharon won the White Orchid International Haiku Award and also has a story published in the NT Anthology of Indigenous Writers, This Country Anytime Anywhere.  Sharon is currently a Board member for the First Nations Australia Writers Network.

Susan Beetson is a Wiradjuri and Wayilwan / Ngemba woman originally from Brewarrina NSW, now living in Bauple Forest QLD. Susan has achieved two batchelor degrees with QUT in Information Technology and is currently completing her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), researching in the area of Community Informatics and exploring networking interactions using cloud computing including social media. Previous to academia her employment experience extended over 18 years in both Information Technology Management and IT Project Management. Since moving into academia in 2007, Susan has developed 3 streams of practice: academic research, program development and tertiary teaching.  Full time employed with Charles Sturt University Susan has joined the School of Indigenous Australian Studies team to collaborate with academic ataff and  lead the review, re-design and implementation of online spaces for the teaching and delivery of online subjects and modules.  Susan has also been involved in a range of valuable community programs, for their own sakes and in order to foster the valued relationships required to undertake her academic research. These include a Community owned and led program designed around learning Culture.  

Zoila Margarita Jiménez Pacheco was born in 1978 and is a native of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.  She studied at the Autonomous University of Yucatán in the Faculty of Anthropological Sciences in the specialty of Social Anthropology and completed her  thesis "Religious diversity. Beliefs and rituals in a Mayan community. "  Zoila has been interested in issues such as religious diversity in Indigenous communities, international migration and the integration of young people into the labour market.  Her work experience focused on the work of social research at the Department of Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of Yucatan, in the CIESAS Peninsular, The University of Florida and the Center for Comparative Migration Studies at the University of California-San Diego. Cultural Enterprise Management in A.C., l Institute for Sustainable Development in Mesoamerica and currently in Haciendas del Mundo Maya Foundation. Parallel to her academic training, Zoila has also been dedicated to developing skills in audiovisual media, taking up photography in 1998 in analog and digital techniques.   She is part of the Kayche Collective that runs the the Film and Video Festival Kayche' Tejidos Visuales, which is a window that evokes dialogue in order to promote self-representation and demand catalysts for change in an unequal world.

more Biographies coming soon


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2014 SOLID SISTERS:

Michelle Blakeney is a Yaegl woman from the Far North Coast of New South Wales. She has been a photographer for several years, and her continuing passion and ambition is to document her own people's unique culture and history through photography.  It is this healing power of photography that fuels her love of the medium. Currently a resident of Sydney, Michelle branched out from her photographic practice to encompass screen-based practice.

Lori Blondeau is a Cree / Saulteaux / Metis artist originally from Saskatchewan.  Blondeau holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, and has sat on the Advisory Panel for Visual Arts for the Canada Council for the Arts and is a co-founder and the current director of TRIBE, a Canadian Aboriginal media arts organization. Her contemporary practice, includes both visual and performance art.

Gertrude Davis is a photographer and media presenter. She is of Gugu-Yimithirr and Kuku Yalanji heritage, was born in Mossman and grew up on the Atherton Tableland, in Far North Queensland.  She has studied photography and film making and also worked as a documentary photographer at many events around the country, and been published in the Koori Mail.  

Rona Davis is a ceramic artist based on the Sunshine Coast.  A Mamu/Kuku Yalanji woman, she has been living on Gubbi Gubbi country since 1997 and has moved in and out of her artistic career as her children’s needs have changed.  Rona has also been developing a strong interest in photography and film work, with a desire to see the fruition of some ideas using Media to document the land and people that belong to her clans in Mamu country of the Palmerstone area, and Kuku Yalanji area around Mossman.

Michelle Derosier was named 2011 Female News-maker of the Year by Wawatay News in Canada, and is an award-winning filmmaker who brings her twelve years of experience as a front line social worker to bear on her drama and documentary film work. Co-owner of Thunderstone Pictures, she works as a producer, director, writer, and occasionally even as an actor in Thunder Bay.

Fiona Foley is a Brisbane-based artist and exhibits regularly in Australia and internationally.  In 2009, the University of Queensland Art Museum and Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art co-curated a survey exhibition of Fiona Foley’s work, titled Forbidden. The exhibition traversed photography, sculpture, moving image, etching and installations.  During 2011 Foley was appointed an Adjunct Professor with the University of Queensland. 

Jenny Fraser was born in Far North Queensland. She is a 'digital native’ working within a fluid screen-based practice. Having worked on short films and docos, her practice as an artist / curator has also been partly defined through a strong commitment to collaboration with others, leading to founding networks such as the Blackout New Media Arts Collective, and cyberTribe, an online gallery that facilitates the production and exhibition of Indigenous art, internationally.  She has completed a Master of Indigenous Wellbeing at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales.

Sonja Gibson is an artist, artsworker and screen writer based in Cooktown, Far North Queensland. She has studied at the Tropical North Queensland TAFE in Cairns.

Charmaine Joy Green was born at Eradu (between Geraldton and Mullewa) on Amangu country and is a member of the Wajarri and Badimaya cultural groups from the Yamaji Nation of Western Australia. Green is a visual artist, poet and writer who recently moved into installation work. She began writing poetry in Mullewa in the late 1970’s – writing under the name Charmaine Papertalk-Green. Charmaine was instrumental in the incubation of the nationally and internationally touring exhibition “Ilgarijiri – Things belonging to the Sky” arts and cultural project a Yamaji Art collaboration with the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy Curtin University, Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project Australian Government and City of Greater Geraldton.


Tracey Green is a Badimia Wadjari woman from Geralton in Western Australia. She has worked with Mara - Yamaji Art in co ordinating the 'Open Your Eyes' Festival that was held in Geraldton in 2012 and also with Irra Wangga Language Centre as the Events Co-ordinator for State Language Conference. Tracey currently works part time with Yamaji Art as the Senior Arts Officer. She has previously won the award for Indigenous Category in the Leonora Art Awards has and has recently delved back into her own art practice. Current work is inlcuded in the 'Shared Skies' project, a collaboration in South Africa, and an exhibition that is being held at Curtin Art Gallery in September 2014 .

Janina Harding grew up in Melbourne where she has lived and worked most of her life. Her grandmother is Meriam Mir, of the Eastern Torres Strait and grandfather is Kuku of North East Cape York. Janina’s career in the arts began almost 30 years ago- serving 2 terms on the Australia Council’s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board. Janina has worked for the City of Melbourne as the Indigenous Arts Program Manager since 2001 and is currently the Artistic Director/ Executive Producer of the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival and Blak Nite Cinema. 

Hiona Henare has spent over fifteen years working in the Māori creative industries as a producer, director, writer and performer - she is deeply dedicated to the advancement of Māori Theatre, Contemporary Dance, Film and Broadcasting. Hiona has produced many high profile events, conferences, festivals, tours, contemporary dance tours, te reo māori tours, theatre, music videos, television and recently film.

Madeline Hodge was born in Brisbane in 1945, from the Bigambul Clan. Assimilated and educated in Brisbane City, but lived mostly on the Gold Coast. Madeline has been a painter, sculptor, lecturer, writer and involved in the Arts for over 40 years. She has been commissioned to do murals and other acquisitions all through Queensland and is in private collections all over the world.

Darlene Johnson is a director and actress based in Sydney. Her first short drama, Two-Bob Mermaid (1996), won the Australian Film Critics Circle Award for Best Australian Short Film. It was nominated at the Venice Film Festival for the Baby Lion Award, won the Best Dramatic Short Film at the 41st Asia-Pacific Film Festival and is now used as a standard teaching resource in primary and secondary schools Australia-wide.

May Kabay is a Warrgarmay woman from the Herbert River Region, Queensland. The land in which her mother was born.  Her roots also extends up to the Miaridai Clan in Parama village,  Daru Island – PNG.  The land is which her father was born.  She is currently in a position that takes her to rural and remote  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Queensland to deliver/facilitate workshops to deadly Early Childhood Educators. 

Marilyn Miller is currently a Festival Director and Performer based in Cairns.  She started her working career as a trainee at ABC-TV as a Film Editing Assistant. Since then her relationship with the screen has mainly involved her performing and choreographing, having a video installation of Contemporary Indigenous Welcome Dances residing in the First Peoples Gallery, at the Australian National Museum.  In 2009 Marilyn resumed her interest again, by participating in a Short film workshop with BlakDance Australia.


Sharon Mununggurr is a Koori writer currently based in Brisbane, and previously spent 20 years in Arnhemland.  Sharon has won the White Orchid international Haiku award.   She has completed a Master of Indigenous Wellbeing at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales.

r e a was born in Coonabarabran, New South Wales, into the Gamilaraay/Wailwan people and currently lives in Sydney.  In 2004 she received a Fulbright Scholarship for research and development in creative technologies and she recently received a New Media Arts Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. r e a 's work is held in the collections of the Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Australia, among others. Active as a curator and artist, r e a has participated in numerous group exhibitions, residencies and conferences both in Australia and Internationally.

Ranjini Rusch is a Far North Queensland local having resided in Cairns and Kuranda on and off since 1975. Ranjini's father is German and and her mother is Sri Lankan via PNG. She works in the area of casting and is also interested in cultural diversity, photography, reading, writing, film making, and music.  She has previously sourced and coordinated extras for Australian TV -"Mabo", "The Straits" and  "Sea Patrol" and Film - Dutch production, "The Ship Boys of Bontekoe", American productions, "Scooby Doo", "South Pacific", "Paradise Road", Thin Red Line" and "The Island of Dr Moreau".  Ranjini began studying a bachelor of film production at the SAE Institute in Byron Bay and she hopes to continue her studies in 2015 with the aim of gaining skills in documentary making.

Lily Shearer has a B.A. in Theatre, Theory and Practice from the University of Western Sydney and has over 25 years experience in Aboriginal women’s dance, heritage, culture and theatre making practice. Lily is a founding member and Executive Producer of Moogahlin Performing Arts. Her work with Moogahlin includes Lesson in Flight for the 2008 Dreaming Festival, Gathering Ground 2010 and Posts in the Paddock in association with My Darling Patricia.

Ariel Smith (Nêhiyaw/Jewish) is a filmmaker, video artist and cultural worker currently based in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Having created independent media art since 2001, much of her work has shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and Internationally.  Ariel also works in arts advocacy and administration and is currently the Director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition.

Nicole Stewart is a foodie and an ER Nurse who has previously worked for the Flying Doctors and also served time in Timor Leste. She has been a long term resident at Gove in Arnhemland in the Northern Territory and is now based back in her hometown of Cairns.


Michelle Tyhuis is a media, arts and design professional with nearly 15 years experience working across radio, tv, print and online media. She identifies most strongly as Torres Strait Islander from Darnley (Erub) Island, however she is also Dutch, on her father’s side. Michelle graduated from university in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism), and then gained a Certificate IV in Broadcasting (Radio), a Certificate III in Broadcasting (TV) and two Certificate IV qualifications in training and assessment over the next five years. She also spent 8 years following her university studies, working in a variety of capacities with one of the largest metropolitan Aboriginal radio stations in Australia, eventually working her way up to senior management.

Nickeema Williams is a young Cairns-based multidisciplinary visual artist, photographer and designer. She uses whatever materials she can get her hands on, whether its ink, acrylics, watercolour, graphite or a video camera and she has started to develop her own style and themes. Her works tends to influenced by connections both spiritually and emotionally. Nickeema is also a member of a new Artist run initiative in Cairns called TBA which was formed with some of her fellow TAFE graduates.

Wazana-May Kabay/Nuga is an young artist, who stems from a Malayan Aboriginal and PNG cultural background. She is currently a student at Kirwan State High School in Townsville. She loves to create stories in her spare time and enjoys bringing characters to life with her drawings.

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