Leah Gerrard and Jayden Simms have landed a unique opportunity with William Buck, commencing as the firm’s first Indigenous Artists in Residence.
The Artists in Residence concept was developed by William Buck in consultation with Souths Cares as a means to nurture young talented Aboriginal artists whilst also providing exposure and learning opportunities within the financial services sector at one of Australia’s leading accounting companies.
After submitting their portfolios and attending an interview in December, Leah and Jayden were both thrilled to receive the news they were successful in their applications for the inaugural Artists in Residence initiative. Jayden and Leah were stand-out nominations, with both individuals being strongly connected with Souths Cares mentoring programs since 2020.
Leah completed her HSC last year at South Sydney High School and has been painting for as long as she can remember. For the past three years Leah has been creating Aboriginal art, with the opportunity to connect with culture and family bringing her a great sense of fulfilment and pride.
Leah paints in both modern and traditional Aboriginal art styles, focusing on animals and human subjects. Leah enjoys the opportunity to immerse herself in the artistic process and express herself through her work.
After leaving school in Year 11, Jayden explored a number of career options including a Finance Traineeship, working in Traffic Control and completing TAFE courses however his passion has always been in art.
Jayden’s journey with art commenced from an early age, where he utilized painting as a therapeutic outlet and an opportunity to relax following stressful situations. In 2021, Jayden co-designed the South Sydney Rabbitohs Indigenous jersey along with other Souths Cares program participants under the guidance of renowned Aboriginal artist, Uncle Joe Walker.
The opportunity to contribute to the South Sydney Rabbitohs Indigenous jersey ignited Jayden’s desire to delve more into his passion for art, with his paintings often featuring sea and water themes.
Greg Travers, Managing Director at William Buck explained the Artists in Residence concept was about providing an opportunity and a supportive environment for Leah and Jayden to thrive.
Greg Travers, Managing Director
This initiative is something completely different for the firm, very “non-accounting”, but very much in keeping with our culture of providing people with opportunities and seeking to make a difference. Leah and Jayden are both talented individuals, and we hope that this program enables them to grow as artists and as individuals and set them on the path to making a career out of their amazing artistic skills.
The 12-month program will involve Leah and Jayden working four days a week at William Buck, where they have their own art studio, art resources and workplace mentoring to develop their artistic skills and portfolio of works. Along with developing their art, Leah and Jayden will spend a day a week working within the various business units at William Buck to learn about financial services.
Accompanying their work placement is one day a week at Eora TAFE, where Leah and Jayden will complete the theory component of their Cert 3 in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts.
Leah and Jayden will be well supported throughout their Traineeship, with Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) and Barranggirra Program Mentors assisting them fulfill their potential and achieve their aspirations.