My name is Gemma Louise Pap and I was born on as small island of the south coast of England called the Isle of Wight.
With Gypsy blood and an avid imagination, not to mention a huge fan of the Eurovision song contest, it didn’t take long for my feet to start itching away.
Starting off gently, seeking out places not too far from home. Within reach of a young girl ready to head out on her own. I started to explore my backyard so to say.
Wales was my first brave step out of England, then on the Scotland, Ireland and northern Ireland as well as all the far reaches of England from rolling green fields in the south, to mountains and lakes in the north. I always remember how excited I was to see my first mountain, after all the Isle of Wight isn’t exactly the Pyrenees.
But that still wasn’t enough, as a little girl, I used to stay up late at my granny’s place. Eagerly watching the Eurovision song contest every year dreaming about visiting all these exciting places that I could barely pronounce.
After a weekend in Prague I had whetted my appetite and wanted to try further afield.
So then one day my friend came over with all these big plans to go to Australia, now I had no intention of going anywhere near Australia at the time. I had grown up with crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin. All I knew of Australia was hot, dry, dusty and everything even the plants had it in for you.
Add to that my huge phobia of ants, also to be found in abundance in Australia.
So you can see why I wasn’t really up for the idea. But I did have a lot of friends in New Zealand and it look like such an amazing place, plus the whole no deadly animals was a great selling point.
So we agreed to get our visas work in Australia fruit picking for 6 months make some cash then go touring around New Zealand for the other 6 months. But as it goes with all grand plans they never work the way you planned them. My friend pulled out at the last minute. So seen as I already had the guidebook and plane ticket I decided to go by myself.
So that is how I ended up arriving in Australia 14 years ago, and yes I’m still here and all of my preconceptions have been proved wrong, yes there are a lot of dangerous things over here but contrary to the myths, the red back spiders don’t hide under your toilet seat waiting to bit your bum.
The drop bears i.e. koalas don’t drop out of the trees and attack you, if you see one in a tree and it actually moves your lucky, although they do make some very strange noises at night which can be a bit unnerving when you camping…
Although the centre is red, dry and dusty, it is still incredibly beautiful, the people are amazingly friendly, and the coast is just unbelievable it was defiantly a very well-kept secret, although I think the cat is out of the bag nowadays.
I met my husband by a twist of fate, after buying a bargain package holiday deal in Byron bay. Just $300 for a Fraser island trip, a Whitsunday sailing trip, 6 nights accommodation up the coast and a free husband. You cannot ask for a better deal then that.
Ok so I did have to put a bit of effort in but the planets were defiantly lining up the day I bought that ticket.
My husband originally from former Yugoslavia moved over here with his parents as a teenager. he was running a sailing tour in the Whitsundays, which I had unknowingly bought a ticket on.
So I did my trip as a very happy customer, loved it, came back as a volunteer, he hired me as the hostess on the boat, and then it was downhill from there.
We have now been together 14 years and have had all sorts of adventures.
So basically that’s how a young girl with no intentions of ever coming to Australia, ends up not only visiting but falling in love, marrying an Australian and becoming one herself..
By the way I still haven’t made it to New Zealand
After finding out that I could “paint” as my husband put it, he encouraged me to take some paintings to the local market, a few weeks later I received my first Australian commission. I joined the local art group and exhibited for the first time in Australia. I was involved in a few exhibitions after that on and off for the following years, but unfortunately work always got in the way of my art.
But then fate had a hand in tweaking my plans. I was attached by a dog while cycling to work one day, resulting in being unable to walk or work for nearly 4 months, to stop me going stir crazy I started painting and creating again.
Receiving a lot of interest in my work I started up at the markets again, growing and branching out. This led to the decision of moving down to Melbourne to grow both my art and start up my business. I have been involved in a selection of exhibitions here in Melbourne and was going full steam ahead until Covid 19 decided to change the world.
Although my business is currently only online we are hoping to be back out at markets and exhibiting soon, until then I am keeping myself busy creating new bright and colorful designs and products, as always inspired by the incredible country I am lucky enough to live in.
Liquid Earth Festival and charity art auction Jubilee Pocket QLD (2007)
Oceanic Whitsundays Boat & Leisure show Marine Art Exhibition, Cannonvale QLD (2008)
Solo Exhibition Sorrento’s Whitsundays Airlie Beach, QLD (2011) Art Auction Cyclone Yasi relief
Sorrento’s Whitsundays Airlie Beach, QLD (organiser 2011)
Bowen Art & Pottery exhibition Port Denison Sailing Club August 2019
Passage of time group exhibition with MAVA AGRA Gallery Camberwell VIC (2020)
Truth Be Known “Volition” In.cub8er Exhibition Prahran March 2020
CAS (Contemporary Art Society) A4 Exhibition Herring island Richmond. March 2020
Roberts Mccubbin Art Show Box Hill March 2020
Smart exhibition The Track Gallery February 2020
Up Coming Exhibitions
Mava at Sea exhibition Southern Buoy Studios January 2021
Mornington Art Show January 2021
Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show Exhibition Melbourne March 2021
GEAS Exhibition “Water” Glen Eira Council Gallery March 2021
SmART Exhibition The Track Gallery Mount Waverly February – March 2021
CAS (Contemporary Art Society) A4 Exhibition Herring island Richmond. March 2021
GECAG Exhibition “Perspectives” Glen Eira Council Gallery March 2021
My artworks are featured in private collections in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand.
Publications & Media
- 8-page feature Artists Palette Magazine issue 89, 2010
- Cover Artists Palette Magazine issue 89, 2010
- Single page feature Lang’s Gallery Artists Palette Magazine 2009
- Single page feature with genesis paints Artists Palette Magazine 2008
- Single page feature Lang’s Gallery Artists Palette Magazine 2008
- Whitsunday times newspaper article 2007
Honours and awards
- People’s Choice Award, 18th Annual Art exhibition with Art WhitsundaysCannonvale QLD (2008)
- Liquid Earth Festival 2007
- 2nd Place Oils Bembridge Beaux Arts Exhibition 2005
- 3rd place flora & fauna Bembridge Beaux Arts Exhibition 2005
Member of the following organisations
- GEAS (Glen Eira Art Society)
- Box Hill Art Group
- GECAG (Glen Eira Cheltenham Art Group)
- Mentone Mordialloc Art Group.
- MAVA (Melbourne& Victorian Artists)
Past member of Art Whitsundays