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Perth artist Joanne Colely working with Duchess of York on new project

Zach MargoliusPerthNow
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Joanne Colely was summoned to Crom Castle last year to meet with the Duchess of York and canvas her striking image, with the Perth artist’s previous works piquing the red-headed royal’s interest.
Camera IconJoanne Colely was summoned to Crom Castle last year to meet with the Duchess of York and canvas her striking image, with the Perth artist’s previous works piquing the red-headed royal’s interest. Credit: Joanne Colely

She’s painted car racing stud Daniel Ricciardo, rubbed shoulders with Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, and witnessed her lifelike creations expanded to fit the larger-than-life circular screens of Yagan Square.

Now Perth artist Joanne Colely is taking home global awards and accepting invitations to Royal residences.

The 48-year-old was summoned to Crom Castle last year to meet with the Duchess of York and canvas her striking image, with Ms Colely’s previous works piquing the red-headed royal’s interest.

Joanne Colely had lunch at Crom Castle with the Duchess of York.
Camera IconJoanne Colely had lunch at Crom Castle with the Duchess of York. Credit: Joanne Colely
Joanne Colely and Duchess Sarah Ferguson showing off their recent book creations.
Camera IconJoanne Colely and Duchess Sarah Ferguson showing off their recent book creations. Credit: Joanne Colely;Joanna White

“It’s just been a real chance and luck,” the local artist said.

“I met her in a castle in November, and somehow I ended up in Royals Monthly page three. I was so happy, I was at the head of Charles and Kate.”

As her initial brush with fame was received well by Duchess Sarah Ferguson, or Fergie, an opportunity to continue their partnership was swiftly welcomed.

“Suddenly I was also doing a children’s book for her,” Ms Colely said.

Describing the honour of collaborating with the Duchess as “once in a lifetime”, Ms Colely’s illustrations will appear in The Forever Tree launching in October, adding to the long list of children’s stories penned by the royal author.

Ironically, the local artist’s first run-in with the world-famous family occurred much closer to home as a child.

“I met Charles when I was six here at Perth Airport,” she recalled. “With Princess Diana, oh my god, he shook my hand.”

A big believer in manifesting dreams and living without regrets, the motivational speaker and art teacher is preparing to release an imaginative tale herself written when she was nine, titled The Magic Book.

The Magic Book by Joanne Colely will be released in six weeks.
Camera IconThe Magic Book by Joanne Colely will be released in six weeks. Credit: Joanne Colely

Remarkably, the now well-renowned painter’s foray into professional art began less than five years ago.

“I came from 20 years of corporate. I worked for Yellow Pages and with Google, and then one day I went, ‘You know, I want to be a teacher’,” she admitted.

Joanne Colely at Google HQ.
Camera IconJoanne Colely at Google HQ. Credit: Joanne Colely

“So in my 40s, I started all over again.”

Told she’d have to “die to be successful” as a mature-aged arts student, Ms Colely was determined to paint a brighter future for herself.

She’s since thrived doing what she loves and has donated a staggering $250,000 from her work towards helping others.

Among her endeavours was a ticketed fundraiser to assist with the mounting medical bills of Milli Lucas, a brave teen who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2021.

Joanne Colely has been a great supporter of the Lucas family.
Camera IconJoanne Colely has been a great supporter of the Lucas family. Credit: Joanne Colely

At the time, Ms Colely said, “I just thought — what can I do to help? And this seemed like a good idea.”

Fittingly, she plans to donate one dollar from every edition of The Magic Book she sells towards Milli’s legacy Millstar Foundation.

Drawing on high-profile community members to boost her charitable efforts, the altruistic artist used the face of WA’s fight against COVID as a charity cash cow.

Auctioning off her eye-catching ‘McGown’ dress and Mark McGowan painting, she claims her title for the collection was a popular choice.

Joanne Colely and Mark McGowan.
Camera IconJoanne Colely and Mark McGowan. Credit: Joanne Colely
The McGown.
Camera IconThe McGown. Credit: Joanne Colely
The McGown and portrrait was auctioned for $10,000.
Camera IconThe McGown and portrrait was auctioned for $10,000. Credit: Joanne Colely;Joanna Partridge

“I made it say ‘Mark my words’ on the back, and then The West Australian stole it the next day!” Ms Colely joked.

Fresh off winning gold at the 2024 Women Changing the World Awards for her creative efforts, the high achiever suggested her proudest accomplishment was being a source of inspiration to others.

With the local’s Duchess engagements topping her list of ‘pinch-me’ moments, the go-getter has seen a different side to the famously private family through their fledgling friendship and revealed a side the public may not see.

“She’s very relaxed, and she likes to have a laugh and a joke,” Ms Colely said.

“It made me like her even more.”

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