Originally from Newscastle, artist Rafaella McDonald moved to Melbourne nine years ago for study. After completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne, Rafaella went on to start her own theatre company with two friends. An interest in painting and design was sparked when Rafaella began creating sets, props and costumes for her theatre productions, and this soon developed into a multidisciplinary art practice spanning painting, textile design, large scale wall murals and installation. ‘I love painting murals partly because they have the ability to operate like stages when people find themselves either inadvertently or intentionally in front of and around them,’ says Rafaella.
Rafaella’s work is hard to miss. It is bright and dynamic, and combines bold contrasting shapes and textures, opaque and transparent layers, buzzing energy and movement. To put it simply, her work is action packed!
Rafaella credits her inspiration to powerful women in the arts during the Russian Avant Garde period, including Alexandra Exter’s paintings and sets, and Natalia Goncharova’s paintings and costumes. She also cites the music and dance as key sources of inspiration.
Creatively, Rafaella’s process is uncomplicated, she works very much intuitively. ‘It’s very playful, I like to create structures with colours and shapes using the dye or the paint, these shapes then become limits or counterpoints that I work within and around,’ she says. Her unique approach has led to commissions and exhibitions with the NGV Ian Potter centre, Trophy Wife Nail Salon and a mural for the Uncommon Places project last year, located on the exterior wall of the iconic Readings bookstore in Carlton.
Currently, Rafaella is working towards a big project for Next Wave 2016, alongside Indonesian artist Natasha Tontey. ‘The project is about transport, our friendship and more broadly about Australia in a regional context and our relationship with Indonesia’ says Rafella. ‘It’s going to be a fun and interactive project, a wild ride. I can’t wait.’