Youth Justice staff member designs Cowboys Indigenous jersey

Cairns Youth Justice staff member, Beau Pennefather Motlop has been announced as the winner of the North Queensland Cowboys 2019 Indigenous Jersey Design Competition with his artwork entitled 'Same but Different' chosen from a record number of entries.

The competition stipulated the artwork should address the themes of courage, integrity, committment and unity. Beau's artwork represented these themes through culturally significant symbols, such as the Torres Strait head dress and Aboriginal shield (for courage) and traditional circle dot patterns to represent meeting places (for unity).

Artwork judge Ray Thompson holds up original jersey artwork by Beau. Image courtesy of the North Queensland Cowboys.

Artwork judge Ray Thompson holds up original jersey artwork by Beau. Image courtesy of the North Queensland Cowboys.

“I've been a practising artist for a number of years, and this was a fantastic opportunity to get exposure as an artist while at the same time sharing my culture,” Beau said.

Descending from the Aboriginal Djrribal and Torres Strait Wagdagum tribes, and with connections to the Ngāpuhi people in New Zealand, Beau acknowledged the importance of expressing his heritage via his artwork.

“Because I identify as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, I can appropriately represent both arts and mix them together.”  

“I am always looking for opportunities to share our culture and make it prominent in everyday life. Through this competition and other projects, I like to look for ways to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and embed it in the fabric of our community to keep it alive.”

It's an attitude that Beau also displays in his work as a Program Development Officer, working with clients to deliver intervention programs, advocating for young people and families, and ensuring that programs are culturally appropriate and safe.

He's also carried out other artwork projects within the department, including designing shirts worn by the Youth Justice team which feature bright artwork to represent where the rainforest and the ocean meet – something that Beau sees as significant to the unique region of Cairns.

Three drawings of the women's and men's Cairns Youth Justice Service Centre staff shirts designed by Beau.

The Cairns Youth Justice Service Centre staff shirts designed by Beau represent the colours of the region.

“The colours are a representation of the forest, and I thought it was a good reflection of the Far North,” he said.

“I worked with a local company, Shirts North, to help print the shirts, and the first design included about 180 orders which went to staff spanning from the Torres Strait all the way down to Mackay.”

Needless to say, the Cairns local is both a prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist, and a champion within the department.

What we all want to know, though, is whether Beau will be watching his jersey's debut in the Cowboys vs Raiders game on May 25?

“The game is in Canberra, so I'm not 100 percent sure whether I'll be able to fly down but I'll definitely be watching!”

You can read more about the meaning behind Beau's artwork on the Cowboys website.