Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher AO, whose artistic name was Thanakupi, was a highly respected Thaynakwith elder from the Weipa region of Far North Queensland, and the last fluent speaker of her language, Thaynakwith. She came to international fame as a potter in the 1970s and remained the foremost Australian Indigenous ceramic artist all her life. A pioneer in the arts, she inspired many people who came into contact with her, not only through her magnificent ceramics and sculpture, but also as a teacher, story teller, writer and recorder of language. She worked unceasingly to create a pathway for the youth of her community and region so they could follow her lead and learn new skills in the wider world whilst learning their cultures and languages, their dances and songs, and thus being proud to face any future their families might encounter.
This Bursary was Thancoupie’s wish. It has been set up to support young Aboriginal artists and aspiring Aboriginal arts-workers from the Western Cape York Peninsula. It honours the memory, achievements and legacy of Thancoupie, the first Aboriginal artist with tertiary qualifications in art.
Through financial support, Bursary recipients are given encouragement to study successfully outside their own community. Annual bursaries (one per year) are offered on a competitive basis.