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No rest for this retiree: How Annie became an award-winning photography student at 69

TAFE NSW Kingswood

No rest for this retiree: How Annie became an award-winning photography student at 69

A 69-year-old Penrith local has credited TAFE NSW with helping her to explore her life-long passion for visual arts, after retiring from a decades-long, high-flying career, which included a stint at The Pentagon. 

A few years ago, Annie Wilcox retired from her corporate job and relocated to Sydney to be closer to family and pursue her creative interests, including photography, ceramics, and printmaking. 

Ms Wilcox is currently studying an Advanced Diploma in Visuals Arts at TAFE NSW Kingswood, and was recently awarded first place in the Student Category of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography’s (AIPP) Silver Lining Awards. 

“I’ve always been interested in studying visual arts, but I never had the spare time while working in a demanding role. When I retired, I jumped at the opportunity to learn new skills and pursue my passions at TAFE NSW,” Ms Wilcox said. 

“While it was goal of mine to enter the AIPP awards, I never in my wildest dreams expected to win. The message I wanted to convey in my work was drudgery. The solid iron, harsh Australian landscape and mountains of laundry exert power over the woman, highlighting gender biases. 

“The entire process has helped me overcome my fear of exposing myself through my art and opening myself up to peer critiques, and I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself and learning new things within a group of like-minded individuals at TAFE NSW.” 

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Visual Arts, Cath Barcan, said Ms Wilcox was a prime example of the opportunities TAFE NSW provides those looking to develop their creative skills. 

“The Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts provides students, like Annie, with the wide-ranging, highly-specialised skills they need to plan, develop, and exhibit a body of work which expresses their creative flair,” Ms Barcan said. 

“Through theory and practical course work, TAFE NSW students learn how to research and apply artistic concepts, engage in critical discourse, and use industry specific tools and materials to realise their vision.” 

To find out more about the creative courses on offer at TAFE NSW, visit   

For more information about AIPP, visit

Media contact: Emma Woodward, Communications Specialist, 0409 618 291,