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From newspaper to paintbrush with TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW Lismore

From newspaper to paintbrush with TAFE NSW

Northern Rivers local Nerida Woolley has credited TAFE NSW with helping her make the switch from newspaper journalist to popular landscape artist.

According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook, the number of Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals in Australia has grown strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to grow to 15,600 by 2025[1].

Nerida worked as a rural newspaper journalist and had always wanted to study art in her younger years but went down a more ‘sensible’ career route.

“When my youngest child started school I made the decision to finally follow my long held passion for painting,” Nerida said.

“After a lot of research, I decided TAFE NSW Lismore offered the best fit with a well-rounded course covering topics like art history and the business of art as well as practical lessons in print making, drawing, ceramics, sculpture and painting.”

Nerida enrolled in the Diploma of Visual Arts at TAFE NSW Lismore and is now living her dream as a full-time mother and painter. Her paintings reflect her love of and affinity with the land and this year alone has seen her exhibit in places including Inverell, Toowoomba, Walcha, Sydney and Dubbo as well as fulfill a hectic commission schedule. 

“Whilst I was studying at TAFE NSW, I had three young and super active primary age children as well as three high school aged step-children. Life at home was extremely busy so my main personal obstacle in completing the course was finding time to fit it in with all the outside homework.

“I was so determined to complete the course I made the time and loved every minute of it. It was never work to me. Even to this day I continue to spend every night reading or researching art in books, online or attending workshops. The more I learn the more I realise I have to learn.”

When devastating floods hit the Northern Rivers this year, Nerida joined a collective of artists who banded together to donate artwork to #ArtForFloods and raise money for flood victims.

TAFE NSW visual arts teacher Steven Giese said Nerida’s pivot from journalist to painter was such a success due to the clear passion and drive she has invested into her studies.

“It’s very rewarding to see that Nerida has forged such a successful art practice using the skills she has acquired at TAFE NSW Lismore,” Mr Giese said.

“The nationally accredited Diploma of Visual Arts at TAFE NSW cultivates students’ artistic skills and knowledge so they can work in the creative arts industry. Nerida is part of a thriving arts community in the Northern Rivers and it’s wonderful to see her giving back to the community.” 

“At TAFE NSW students can realise their dreams by reinventing themselves or changing careers just as Nerida has,” Mr Giese said.

Nerida said that she loved every minute of studying at TAFE NSW, and the flexibility of the course meant that she was able to successfully navigate her home life with her studies.

“TAFE NSW offers practical, flexible and challenging courses in a very supportive and encouraging environment. I have often recommended TAFE NSW to others, in particular those keen to study visual art, as my experience there was fantastic.”

For more information about visual arts courses available at TAFE NSW visit or phone 131 601.

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.