Airlie Beach local, Felicity Chapman, has been recognised by Queensland’s peak arts and disability organisation, Access Arts.

Felicity applied for the 2019 Access Arts Achievement Award – an award acknowledging artists with disability in Queensland – and won the hearts of the judges and a whole new prize of her own!

Narrowly missing first prize, Felicity had a lasting impact on the judges with her Deadly Yarnin program, which shines a light on the treasured Indigenous tradition of weaving. This project is what compelled the judges to get creative and create a once-off special contribution towards her project.

The idea for Felicity’s project was born from a devastating brain-bleed she suffered in 2017, leaving her with a disability and changing her life forever.

Ever the optimist, Felicity says in the end the brain bleed was a gift, as she used her recovery time to research her indigenous heritage. Felicity immersed herself in the traditional practice of weaving, an art form which has been part of indigenous culture for as long as we know.

“I found weaving is a really gentle way to connect with our culture,” Felicity said.

“You can create a space through weaving where people get to share their stories. Everybody has a tale to tell.”

With this newfound knowledge, Felicity taught weaving techniques to community workers and weaving circles in local libraries. In 2019, Felicity launched the Deadly Yarnin program in Mackay, bringing at-risk young men together through the traditional art form and connecting them to their ancient culture.

Felicity will use the Access Arts contribution to further study traditional weaving techniques from indigenous Elder, Gene Blow from Mirragimpah Enterprises. Felicity will then tour regional Queensland delivering visual storytelling and weaving workshops to schools and communities, keeping the culture alive.

Access Arts’ Chief Executive Pat Swell revealed the special contribution is a first for the Access Arts Achievement Award.

“The judges just couldn’t ignore the impact Felicity’s Deadly Yarnin project would have on the local indigenous youth of the Whitsundays,” Pat said.

“We need to ensure the important practice of traditional weaving and yarning is not lost for the next generation.”

The Access Arts Achievement Award and special contribution is sponsored by CPL – Choice, Passion, Life, one of Queensland’s leading disability service providers.

CPL CEO Rhys Kennedy believes it is vital artists with disability have the same opportunities as others to pursue a career in the arts.

“We are delighted to play a role in giving Felicity a head-start in turning her passion into an income generating career, whilst preserving the traditional practice of the indigenous people in the area,” Rhys said.

Felicity will showcase the developing works of art at the 2020 NAIDOC celebrations in July.


Holly Scott
CPL Communications Specialist
PH: 07 3358 8082
M: 0419 765 099

About Access Arts

  • Access Arts is Queensland’s leading arts organisation delivering professional visual and performing arts activities for people who experience disability or disadvantage.
  • For 37 years, Access Arts has been empowering people with disability or disadvantage to build successful careers in the arts.
  • In 2019, Access Arts became a wholly-owned subsidiary of CPL – Choice, Passion, Life. CPL is one of the largest providers of integrated therapy, support and advice for people with disability in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
  • The Access Arts Achievement Award gives artists a huge career boost with $10,000 to put towards a project, program, or performance.
  • CPL has committed to sponsoring the Award for the next ten years through a $100,000 investment.
  • You can find out more about Access Arts at