Maharlina Gorospe-Lockie

Once Was

6 May –
25 Jun 2023

Maharlina Gorospe-Lockie was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1969 and moved to Cairns in 2013. A professional anthropologist, she worked in coastal zone management in the Philippines, looking at ways impoverished fishing communities relied on the mangroves and coral reefs for food, income and survival. Her extensive research and knowledge of these practices inform much of her current arts practice.

For Maharlina, the move to Cairns was an opportunity to reconnect with the tropics after several years living in Canberra and Yeppoon and reignited her passion for creating artworks that articulate the fragile yet life-giving properties of tropical coastal environments. She explains,

My landscapes are imagined. They are assembled from memories and impressions gleaned through fieldwork, travel and contemplation… My goal for each painting is to create an alluring image, an image that will bait the viewer, encourage them to look more closely to sense hints of trouble and, ultimately, to reflect on their own feelings and responses.

Once Was tells a story about our changing natural world. Using deceptively appealing colours and textures, the artist challenges the viewer to identify differences between what is gone and what remains in our natural environment. Her work Was Bare 2022 depicts the dying world of coral reefs hidden from view by alluringly draped fishing nets and other foreign matter – ironically the silent agents of their destruction.


More to Explore


Artist Showcase Program

An online resource for artists, curators, collectors, and the public that provides information about contemporary artists from the region, many of whom are represented in the Gallery's Permanent Collection. 

This initiative extends the Gallery’s support of the outstanding arts practice of artists from our region.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Read more

Artist Fellowship Program

Supporting regional artists with grants of $7,500 to develop a new body of work for a future exhibition.

To date, Fellowships have been awarded to Francesca RosaMaharlina Gorospe-LockieJanet FieldhouseSimone ArnolJason WeggerNaomi HobsonHeather KoowoothaJoel SamDaniel Wallwork, Monique Burkead, Tommy Pau and Sonya Creek.

The Artist Fellowship Award is proudly supported by the Cairns RSL Club.




This exhibition has been supported through a Cairns RSL Club Artist Fellowship Award
IMAGE: Maharlina Gorospe-Lockie, Was Bare 2022, synthetic polymer paint and pastel on canvas 121.8 x  91.4cm. Courtesy of the artist

Selected Works


The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased persons in photographs, film or text.