Jo Cunningham Art

Jo Cunningham - Artist Bio

Having grown up soaked in salt water and around all manner of things fibreglass, it was at a time when Jo was away from her family and unable to visit the coast that she began painting on surfboards, hoping to somewhat relieve her longing. 

The first board she painted was the one she rode as a teenager, no longer surfable but too sentimental to throw away. After this first experience Jo was hooked.  

"There's something about the shape of boards that inspires me so much more than a square canvas. These paintings, these boards, they really create themselves, I'm just along for the ride. And it's so exciting to bring back to life something that would otherwise be thrown away."

The unique personality of each board seems to emerge from the depths of the sea, colours and images framed by rushing water along the rails.

A musician and popular Sydney artist's model by trade, Jo Cunningham is constantly surrounded by creativity in many forms which she draws on for inspiration in her work. It's not surprising then that Jo’s own approach to painting is dance-like and intuitive; a delicious mix between the natural flow of paint and her own desires to engage in representing familiar forms and experience.

Jo often works outside in the elements and particularly delights in painting during wind and rain, allowing it to create unique patterns and textures. Each finished work has it's own personality, a life of it's own. As a result of this unique creative process, Jo's works are often abstract/semi-abstract, allowing an opportunity for the viewer to either resonate with her own personal dance or find their own special meaning in the collaboration of paint, human experience and the elements of nature.  

The boards are painted in hard wearing enamel ad acrylic house paints, finished in a marine grade varnish containing UV inhibitors so colours won't fade in the sun. Boards come ready to hang vertically or horizontally, and most are suitable for display in or outdoors.  


Artist’s CV

Joanne Marie Cunningham

Born in Sydney, 11th March,1976

Currently lives in Sydney, NSW


 Art has always been a central part of my life. Whilst studying music and music therapy at a tertiary and postgraduate level, I continued to develop as an artist through the creation of graphic scores, mixed media work and installations wherever I could within the structure of my studies. More recently, being able to turn my focus more fully toward my art, I have developed a passion for painting on abandoned surfboards and working with recycled materials, culminating in a solo exhibition in 2008. Working up to thirty hours a week as a fine art model has enabled me the privileged position of being able to regularly glean wisdom and inspiration from artists, art teachers and students from all over Sydney, which I channel into my own work. Passionate about the arts and community, I have founded numerous community groups and projects with the aim of bringing artists together to support and inspire each other to continue developing as artists and share our art with the wider community.

Solo Exhibitions  

2008     Ebb and Flow, Gillian Su Gallery, Roseville, NSW


2013     People's Choice (Online) Prize, Returned To Glory, Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Hornsby, NSW

2009     Commended, Art on Loftus, C3 Church Carlingford, Pennant Hills, NSW

2009     First Prize - Mixed Media, Returned To Glory, Hornsby Art Gallery, NSW

Selected and Group Exhibitions   

2013      Returned To Glory Art Prize, Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Hornsby, NSW.

2011      Veterinary Science Foundation Inuagural Fine Art Exhibition And Sale, Greg Wilson Gallery, Chippendale, NSW.

2010      Returned To Glory - Recycled Art Prize, Hornsby Art Gallery, NSW

2009      So This is Christmas, Red Door Creative, Dural, NSW

2009      Art on Loftus, C3 Church Carlingford, Pennant HIlls, NSW

2009      63rd Annual Art Exhibition, North Shore Art Society, Warriewood, NSW

2009     On the Horizon, Hornsby Art Gallery, Hornsby NSW

2009     North Shore Art Society Members Exhibition, North Steyne, NSW

2009     Australian Ethical Art Prize, Tap Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2009     Returned To Glory - Recycled Art Prize, Hornsby Art Gallery, NSW

2009     Workshop Art Centre Art Fair, Workshop Art Centre, Willoughby, NSW

2009     Ewart Art Prize, Workshop Art Centre, Willoughby, NSW

2005     Creative Chaos 2, Mars Hill Café, Parramatta, NSW

2005     Creative Chaos, Hornsby Art Gallery, Hornsby, NSW


2009     “Her Art’s All Above Board”, Hornsby Advocate, January 8th 2009, Julie Huffer, p.1, 9. 

2008     “Artistic Flotsam is The Next Wave”, Northside, December 2nd 2008, Melissa Davey p.18.                                  


Work featured in numerous private collections

Community Art Involvement                                                                                        

2009- 2010        Active member of Hornsby Art Society and Workshop Art Centre.

2010                   Youth Coordinator for Hornsby Art Society.

2009                   Producer of “Body Polyphonic” a charity fundraising collaborative project between  Sydney life models and emerging fine art nude photographers. Involving auctions, themed photo-shoots and exhibition. All monies raised going to Reclink/Sydney Street Choir.

2007 – 2009       Founder and facilitator of Sydney Life Models Network

2005 – 2009       Founder of two artist support groups in Hornsby and Narraweena, NSW.

2005 – 2009       Life modelling for community art groups and art societies throughout Sydney.


2000 - 2001       Grad. Dip. Music Therapy at UTS

1997                    Extra Mural Studies at Australian Institute of Music

1994 – 1996      BA (Music) at UWS Nepean. Majors in Composition and Music Technology.

1993                   Higher School Certificate at Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School


1997 – 2014      Resident guitar tutor for Newington Preparatory College, Lindfield, NSW.

2005 – 2014      Professional fine-art model.

1993 – 2009      Numerous music tutoring / music-therapy / community music positions.