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Q&A with award-winning Matthew Flinders Anglican College design student, Ashley Allen

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Ashley Allen and find out about her ‘slow design’ program participation, future business plans, favourite scripture, thoughts on ‘Being Together: Nurturing Relationships’ and what she would write on a billboard

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Ashley Allen is a Year 12 Matthew Flinders Anglican College student who was chosen, along with 15 other design students from across Queensland, to work with professional creatives and designers as part of the Creative Generation: Design learning program.

What is your current Anglican Church Southern Queensland role and where do you live?

I live on the Sunshine Coast and my school I am in Year 12 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.

What projects and activities are you currently engaged in at Matthew Flinders Anglican College?

I am currently completing my Year 12 assessments while preparing for university applications and sports tournaments. Design is one of the subjects that I study, and it’s where I first heard about the QAGOMA Creative Generation Excellence Awards in Visual Art design competition. To enter the competition, I had to respond to an extremely challenging and somewhat left-of-centre design brief and criteria. I designed a self-sanitising pen, which saw me selected for as one of 16 students from across Queensland!

Ashley Allen visiting her QAGOMA exhibition with fellow Flinders student Maeve Robinson in July 2021

What has been the biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome this?

My biggest challenge has been adapting to the increasing workload in school each year. To overcome this, I first prioritise myself, and then I gradually break down each subject into tasks and complete them one by one.

What is a highlight of being a student at Matthew Flinders Anglican College so far?

The best memory of being a student at Matthew Flinders Anglican College was the moment I discovered that I had won the QAGOMA competition, and the supportive network of teachers and friends I was surrounded by at the time! My favourite aspect of the competition was seeing Eugene Carchesio’s Dead Leaves of Tokyo 1999, which allowed me to incorporate specific elements of my family and friends into my design and the exhibition.

Ashley admiring her peers’ work in the QAGOMA exhibition, reflecting on the exhibition’s progress

What are your plans after you graduate from Matthew Flinders Anglican College?

I am going to attend university to study a double degree in Interior Architecture and Business. I will then eventually start my own business and design residential and commercial properties for people around the world.

This year’s Diocesan theme is ‘Being Together: Nurturing Relationships’. What are some practical ways that we can all communicate with each other to build trust?

I believe the best practical way to communicate and build trust with people is to be honest. From there, people can reflect, forgive and bond, developing a strong relationship.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

My favourite Bible quote is Nehemiah 8.10: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This is my favourite because I heavily believe in the guidance and security of God.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

The best pieces of advice I have been given are by my family and teachers who say, “whatever will be, will be” and “trust your gut”.

Award-winning Matthew Flinders Anglican College design student Ashley Allen with her family at Christmastime

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

It’s great to witness when children pick up money from the floor and return it to the owner, say in a restaurant, for example.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I love to sit outside, read and listen to my favourite music.

Ashley Allen enjoys reading in her R&R time

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

If I had a billboard with any text on it, it would read “Always be kind”, because I think people need to be kinder. And, in our society people need to be kind, regardless of the circumstances or preconceived notions.

Where do you do your best thinking?

When I’m sitting in a bright, clean space listening to jazz music.

What’s your best childhood memory?

Growing up in the sun and sand.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

I listen to music, go for a walk, and spend time with people I love.

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