Blogs (Media Centre)


TAFE NSW Hunter Street


TAFE NSW Hunter Street is celebrating the success of Bernadette Heald as a semi-finalist at the international 2020 Head On Photo Festival and Awards this month. 

The Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts student has been recognised for her complex photograph captured using a hand-made pin-hole camera depicting the tranquil forests of Upper Allyn River in the Hunter.  

Without knowing Bernadette’s name or pedigree, the judges described the landscape image, captured using multiple pin-hole lenses to create a layered image, as a unique work and this propelled her to the semi-final stage of the prestigious competition which attracted thousands of entries from 61 countries. 

A pin-hole camera is light proof box with a small hole which acts like the lens of a stanard camera to let light pass through to capture an image on photographic paper which is then developed and printed in a dark-room. Ms Heald’s experimental techniques have been honed at the renowned TAFE NSW Hunter Street fine arts facility where she is completing her course part-time over two years and reflects the outstanding home-grown talent in the Newcastle and Hunter region. 

“Photography can take you in ways and directions you are not expecting,” Ms Heald said. “The light, the length of time to take the image, what you are photographing, movement, wind, the time of day add layers of difficulty and interest to the image,” she said. 

Like her art, studying has also taken Ms Heald in a different personal and career direction to follow a passion, take control of her study and back herself to be in a career she loves from her artistic endeavours. 

“I had been out of the workforce for a number of years and wanted a new direction. I was restricted to school hours, not able to work full time and it was challenging to find flexible work. 

Head Teacher Fine Art, David Trout, said visual arts students are taught creative thinking to have the ability to invent or create something new, to be innovative and adaptable. 

“At TAFE NSW we encourage our visual arts students to apply art theory, critically analyse the stimulus and express their creative vision and this leads to some outstanding results,” Mr Trout said. 

“Bernadette has achieved success by experimenting with the medium and challenging herself with a unique approach to photography. 

“To be recognised at festival which attracts thousands of entries from across the world is a wonderful achievement,” he said. 

Ms Heald said she is keen to get back into the studio as the coronavirus pandemic passes although the restrictions due to physical distances have not prevented her from continuing with her art and studies. 

“Art is very mobile. I can sit anywhere and carve lino or draw. I walk every day with my phone and take photos of beautiful trees, ponds and birds. I have a lot of inspiration near where I live so there will be a lot of work to do when we are able to get back in the studio.” 

Current students will continue to study the Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts at TAFE NSW this term using web conferencing technology and self-initiated practical work. This type of connected learning supports social distancing, while enabling students to progress their studies.   

TAFE NSW has adopted connected learning as a new mode of delivery because it supports social distancing during COVID-19 and allows students to be connected to their teacher. In many cases, this still supports students to demonstrate their competency in their courses. 

For more information about TAFE NSW art qualifications, please visit or call 131 601. 

Media contact: Andrew Woodcock, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner, 0409 324 379