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Stroke(s) of genius as budding artists converge on Toowoomba

a mother and daughter smiling at camera with artwork
15 year-old Evie Burrows and her mum, Sophie, travelled from their Rolleston cattle property in Central Queensland to participate in the 2023 McGregor Summer Arts School.

Hundreds of artists are making their mark on Toowoomba this week as part of the longest-running creative arts retreat in the country.

More than 200 painters, sculptors, woodworkers and designers from across Australia have converged on the University of Southern Queensland to take part in the intensive six-day workshop.

Now in its 55th year, the McGregor Summer Arts School is among one of the country’s biggest visual and creative arts, music, and theatre workshops.

With 15 courses on offer, from oil painting to photography and everything in between, there are plenty of opportunities for budding artists to master their craft under the tuition of world-renowned experts.

From 94 year-old Val Hesterman to 15 year-old Evie Burrows and her mum Sophie, age is no barrier.

Nor is distance, according to Alison Thorpe, who travelled more than 3,500 kilometres from Perth to take part.

For the Littlewood sisters, Jenny, Donna and Lorraine, the McGregor Summer Arts School is the first time all three siblings have studied together under one roof.

The talented trio grew up decades apart, but have bonded over their mutual love of painting.

“I attended last year, and will certainly be back again next year,” Jenny (Littlewood) Balderson said.

Winton-based cattle farmer Sasha Whitehead first attended the retreat in 1994.

“This is my 20th class here, and I’ll be back again another 20 times,” Ms Whitehead said.

“I just can’t get enough.”

Dr Alexandra Lawson, who coordinates the annual event, said participants often go on to study Creative Arts at the University.

“We’ve introduced a plethora of new courses in 2023, and I’d encourage anyone with an interest to get on board,” Dr Lawson said.