Our story

Art from the Margins (AFTM) began as a program to support homeless artists. The idea was born in a Brisbane park beside a coffee van when a member of the Albert Street Uniting Church’s Servant Network was talking with Austin Hellier, an artist living in isolation. Austin spoke about the challenges confronting homeless artists who wanted to display their work to the public. He asked questions like how could he participate in the wider arts community?

Wesley Mission Queensland made the commitment to support artists whose creative development was limited by homelessness, disability, disadvantage or social isolation, and from there, Art from the Margins was created.

Austin's dream was realised when he exhibited in the first Art from the Margins exhibition in the Albert Street Uniting Church, which was part of the 2008 Brisbane Festival. In 2014, the Art from the Margins Brisbane Festival Art Exhibition attracted over 400 entries from 280 artists – the biggest number of participants in AFTM's history.

Now, Art from the Margins (AFTM) is a non-profit creative initiative of Wesley Mission Queensland. Our aim is to demonstrate our commitment to a just, compassionate and inclusive society.


Chairperson – Anne Copeland

Anne joined the board for Art from the Margins in 2017. She recently retired from her career, in which she held a number of roles as a Registered Nurse with membership of several professional boards. She is also a member of the Centre for Practical Spirituality of the Merthyr Road Uniting Church Board where she attends, as well as the Burnie Brae Community Centre at Chermside Board. Anne also visits hospitals as a pastoral carer and frequently spends free time as an artist, a reader and a motorbike pillion passenger.

Dr Donna McDonald BA BSW MA PhD

Donna is a disability studies/ creative arts researcher, arts psychotherapist and artist, with strong connections with the arts, disability, community, and university sectors. She is also a qualified social worker and has worked for over thirty years as a government senior policy advisor and executive manager in health, disability, housing and arts and culture. Her PhD in Creative Writing was published as The Art of Being Deaf: a memoir.

Donna has an interest in the NDIS, having researched the intersections between the NDIS and the arts/cultural sector towards the development of an ARC grant application and is co-editing (with A/Prof Bree Hadley) a seminal interdisciplinary text, The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media Studies (in press, December 2018).

Jan Manton

Jan Manton is the Director of Jan Manton Art, based in Spring Hill. She is a long-time supporter of the visual arts in Queensland. Jan Manton currently sits on the Art from the Margins Committee and The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Arts Program Committee. Jan Manton’s past roles include Chair QUT Art Museum Fund Raising CampaignChair Churchie Emerging Art PrizeChair Flying Arts Alliance, Member QUT Art Collection, Member Steering Committee Harries Digital Art Award, and Member Caboolture Shire Council Art Collection Supported Byran-Manton Art Prize for QUT Visual Art Graduates.

Jennifer McKennairey

Jennifer is a consulting professional with a background in project management, change management and business analysis. She has over 15 years of demonstrated experience across the Private and Public Sector, spanning multiple industries. Jennifer’s passion for the community is centred on enabling individuals and businesses to be the best possible versions of themselves. Jen has been an active AFTM board member and fundraiser for over five years, engaging the community through grass roots fundraising initiatives and developing strategic direction for the program, board and fundraising.

Mark Trotter

As a Director for over 25 years, Mark Trotter has contributed significantly to the continual growth and leadership of Fulton Trotter Architects. Mark became Director after successfully fulfilling the role of Associate ‘in residence’, opening Fulton Trotter Architects’ Northern Rivers office in 1982. He was the first new Director of the practice since 1966. Throughout his leadership, Mark has carefully managed the practice through the challenging financial crisis in the early 1990’s and the successful transition from the practice’s earlier generation of partners.

Reverend Peter Hobson

Peter developed a passion for theology by reading The Coast of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in which he learned about the costly grace that God offers to each and every person. In fact, Peter found the story of God's love for the world so compelling that it changed his life. Over the years, Peter has worked as a full-time musician and an audio technician; a youth worker and a congregational minister; he has served as a chaplain at high school, at university, and through community care; and he has taught theology, ethics, biblical studies, pastoral care and the practice of ministry in churches, schools and universities. In 2014, Peter completed a PhD on hermeneutics, discipleship and narrative theology. Together with his wife Janet, Peter has a blended family with six adult children, and together they love listening to music, going to the movies, bush walking and enjoying the company of family and friends. 

Gary Lynch B.Bus (Public Administration), GAICD

Gary Lynch joined the AFTM Board in 2019 and brings a wealth of experience from the not for profit sector. Gary holds a Bachelor of Business in Public Administration and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Gary has worked in public administration  for many years and is currently Vice President of Kings College within the University of Queensland. Gary has also served as Chairman of a leading Brisbane private school and on a national apprenticeship training organisation. Gary and his family attend Bulimba Uniting Church where he  is a Church Councillor and Elder.


Founding Chairperson - Dr Ian Airey

Ian Airey is the former Chair of the AFTM Board and has held a leadership role with AFTM since its inception. He is a member of the Albert Street Uniting Church, Chair of the Wesley Mission Queensland Council and member of the WMQ Board. Ian has been active in community services through not for profit organisations for over thirty years and has contributed to the oversight of these services through Board membership. He has a long held interest in the visual art and has contributed to the arts as a chorister. Professionally, Ian is an anaesthetist, currently employed by Mater Health Services.


"The coloured jigsaw puzzle pieces (utilising 3 primary colours) represent different organisations or individuals in the community coming together to support a confident, capable and equipped artist. I deliberately kept the design open, so more puzzle pieces could be joined without limitation. The artist depicted is specifically gender neutral.

In its first year, the AFTM exhibition and awards consisted mainly of materials, tuition and artistic development opportunities. So I equipped the artist with all the materials needed to produce an artwork. This graphic also highlights AFTM's goal of enabling people experiencing disadvantage to engage in the arts and through that, our community".

Lisa Blake – AFTM Artist was commissioned to design the AFTM logo.