This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Rafaella McDonald

Creative People

You could say today’s discovery was found by literally staring at a wall.

Our recent story on local business Trophy Wife Nail Salon had us instantly intrigued by the distinctive wall mural in the space!  It wasn’t long before we tracked down the artist responsible – Brunswick based multidisciplinary creative Rafaella McDonald.

1st October, 2015
Lisa Marie Corso
Thursday 1st October 2015

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.’

Artworks by Rafaella McDonald in her Brunswick studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email