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  • Leah Rakabundel

Becoming an Artist...

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

For as long as I can remember I have been making art. I would spend hours and hours drawing and creating things as a young girl. I remember during the school holidays we would go to work with my dad who was a plasterer and I would just draw and draw and draw. It gave me so much joy to create.


I remember in an early high school art class we made ceramic masks drawing inspiration from traditional tribal cultures. The teacher instructed the class to use a limited pallet of natural earthy colours. I painted my mask with bright rainbow colours and got in trouble. I still have the mask, on the back of it I wrote 'Rainbow Tribe' . I thought it was strange getting in trouble for creating freely. I'm still so inspired by bright colours and have a hard time keeping things simple and limiting my colour pallet. I also loved textiles class and learning to use a sewing machine. It was high school that sparked my interests in painting and sewing.


'Rainbow Tribe' Year 8 Art Class 2001


Later on in school, art class was the reason I hung in for the last couple of years. We had the coolest teacher and that's where I met my arty friends (we're all a little weird) who I am still close with today.


Straight out of school I was accepted to university to study a Bachelor of Fine Art. I was still 17 and university was not what I expected. I was not enjoying it. My creativity seemed to fizzle away. I was young, still finding myself and was devastated that my path to becoming an artist seemed to have not worked out as I expected. I quit after a few months.


I still had a lot of life to experience. I spent the next couple of years travelling and completing a Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation as being outdoors and in nature was another great passion and I thought it would be nice to have a job outdoors adventuring and learning about environmental science.


As soon as my studies finished in Perth I headed north and spent time working on pearls farms, mango farms and then in health promotion in remote communities of the Northern Territory. It was such a privilege spending time with First Nations people on country learning about the most ancient living culture in the world. Throughout this time I always continued making art, drawing and painting. I continued my learning in the areas of Aboriginal studies to deepen my understanding in working alongside Countrymen and women.


'Intergalactic Elephants' painted in Katherine, Northern Territory 2012


After more travelling and road tripping I eventually ended up back in Broome, a place that drew me back time and time again. I worked in youth and community development for several years and it was during these roles I started using art as a powerful engagement activity with young people. Creating art with young people and community members is such a beautiful way to connect and build relationships, and there is boundless research promoting art as excellent for its healing abilities and strengthening our wellbeing. Some of my most treasured community art projects have been large scale murals completed with 50+ young people in Broome. These projects would create such a buzz in the community, transforming spaces, and building pride, confidence and skill in the participants. It was during this time I was very fortunate to be mentored by artist George Domahidy and learnt to use aerosol paints.


I also did a whole lot of sewing with mum's groups. Teaching women to use a sewing machine and make bags, cushions, curtains, purses, scrunchies and more was a super popular program. They couldn't get enough.


I've been fortunate to collaborate with some amazing local artists and arts workers in Broome over many years and also have worked on several public art projects which is a whole different realm in the art world. I completed a Cert 3 in Screen and Media expanding my digital skills and 3 short fibre art courses at TAFE.


Mother Artist 2021


I knew deep down that my happiness was in my art making, especially murals. My husband and family have always been such big supporters of this and after having my first child I realised it was time to focus on my true passion, I didn't need to keep working in a seemingly secure job and doing art on the side. I could focus on solely sharing my love of art with the world which is what I have always known I wanted to do.



Road trip Mural in Donnybrook, WA, 2021


These days I spend a couple afternoons a week running the art program at our local drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. It is a beautiful job, creating a loving and calm space for residents to create while they are on their healing journeys. I also paint murals, do commission works, participate in local art awards and exhibitions and run various workshops with my high school art buddy. I have a small Etsy shop and attend occasional community market stalls. I have been exploring digital art making more with procreate and excited to be dipping my toes into NFT art.


I recently embarked on a phenomenal business mind-set coaching course with Anna Hastie which has been so transformative. She is magic and been a strong guiding light for me! I'm so excited to continue to share beautiful energy through my various forms of art making and transform spaces with inspiring and uplifting murals. I'm also so excited to create more digital artworks and continue learning new skills and techniques, I hope you enjoy following my journey.



Procreate artwork 'Southwest Magic', 2021


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