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Robyn Thurecht - Visual Arts

Mum Portrait
Photo credit: Josh Thurecht-Luckham

As a child I always drew, but as I moved into high school, the idea of working in arts was severely frowned upon by my parents - they couldn't see a direct career path between studying art and getting a job. I still don’t think there is a direct career path in many cases but that doesn't mean there aren't viable careers in visual arts. After school, I moved sideways and pursued my other passion: writing and editing. I worked in the stockbroking, finance and management consultancy areas for over 15 years, satisfying my creative urges by document layout designs, snapping up any opportunity to create Powerpoint presentations or assist analysts with diagrams and illustrations. I had children in my late 30s and spent the next eight years being a full-time Mum, although never losing my interest in creativity and the creative process. While my children were little, I developed and taught a creative writing course, 'Absolute Beginners Creative Writing', which focused on getting students switched-on and tuned-into their right creative brains through drawing and writing prompts. I always thought creative writing would be my outlet but playing with my children, exploring paints, pencils, collages and creating numerous box sculptures with them, helped to kick-start my own arts practice again. When my husband fell ill with cancer, it was the wake-up call I needed to take the time to find out what I truly wanted to do with my life. I guess taking up drawing and painting was on my own bucket list and it was time to do it.

I'd been out of formal study for over 15 years and, quite frankly, was scared I wouldn't be up to studying. The staff at CIT were incredibly encouraging and supportive. I had to take in a portfolio of work which I'd cobbled together from random drawings I'd done in my 20s and 30s, as well as more recent work I'd been doing in scrapbooking. I loved the mixed media elements of scrapbooking and despite my many years working with digital media, I loved getting my fingers inky and sticky. One of the happiest moments of my life was hearing that yes, the standard of my work was good enough for me to enrol in the Diploma of Visual Arts. I chose to do it part-time so that I could do one subject at a time without feeling overwhelmed. CIT offered the flexible pathway I needed. I didn't feel I was ready for art school and CIT was the perfect way for me to try things out and gain confidence.

There were many highlights and memorable moments during my time at CIT. The first time I had to share my artwork with the group for feedback was definitely scary but the teachers and other students were so supportive and encouraging. They helped me look at my work in ways I hadn't thought of, adding to the whole experience and setting me down new ways of making art. The most memorable moment was gaining a VET Mobility Scholarship that saw me spend two weeks in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, with other visual arts and photography students. To be fully immersed and focused only on art for that time with other like-minded people is an opportunity I truly appreciated being a mother of two young children. Exhibiting one of my finished artworks in CIT’s cafe was thrilling as was exhibiting as part of a group exhibition from the Indonesia trip.

My part-time study at CIT allowed me the opportunity to start teaching art and drawing to children. What started out as one class per week quickly grew into two, then three and then artKids was born. I now operate seven after-school art classes across six schools, two lunch-time drawing classes and use six contract teachers and assistant teachers in my business. At last count, we taught over 160 students a week!

I enjoy sharing my love of art and my passion for creating with others. To be able to encourage and empower children to trust in their creativity and build their self-confidence in their art is extremely rewarding. I love hearing that parents have hung their artwork on their fridge or how the kids' have won the schools' term art prize or asked to exhibit in the ACT's Limelight event. That I can arrange my life to incorporate my own arts practice and bring in a viable income through teaching art and managing my classes is the perfect balance.