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For the Daily News
Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia â€” â€śAdopted Aussieâ€ť photographer Celeste Brignac was delighted with the news that her work caught the attention of the Australian prime minister this Christmas.
After 26 years growing up in Starkville, Miss., Brignac visited a friend in Australia and just found it too difficult to leave.
Brignac graduated from Mississippi State University in 1992 with a bachelor of fine arts degree in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Once in Australia, Brignac launched her own business a little at a time, submitting designs to Oxfam two years ago in response to the organizationâ€™s call for artists to contribute to their range of Christmas Cards.
â€śThese designs reflect the Australian lifestyle and how Christmas is celebrated on the beach,â€ť said Brignac.
Oxfam director of trading Nadine Silverberg appreciated the support of Ms. Gillard, saying profits from the Christmas cards would be channelled to people who need assistance in developing countries.
â€śMoney raised through the sale of Oxfamâ€™s Christmas cards supports the broad work of Oxfam Australia in combating poverty and injustice worldwide, including responding to emergencies and international program work,â€ť she said.
Brignacâ€™s greeting cards are still available at Oxfam shops, and can be purchased online at www.oxfamshop.org.au.
While Brignac says she loves the weather on Queenslandâ€™s Sunshine Coast, she confesses she hasnâ€™t become used to the idea of a warm Christmas.
â€śI still have a sense that it should be cold this time of year. So combining Christmas with the beach seemed a natural thing to do since that is where Australia spends Christmas!â€ť she said.
Besides Oxfamâ€™s acceptance of Brignacâ€™s work, her beachside Christmas images have been acquired by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and used on festive banners placed on the Esplanade at Mooloolaba, Queensland.
â€śThe Australian coastline is where three of the worldâ€™s great oceans meet: the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans,â€ť said Brignac.
â€śOver 10 000 beaches provide places where people from all over the world meet, mix and live. The beach has also become a large part of the Christmas holiday custom in Australia,â€ť she said.
A prolific artist, Brignac is also about to launch further products based on the Australian theme to promote tourism. It seems she has settled in, making an impact all the way from the relaxed Sunshine Coast right through to the Lodge.