Alumni – Rachael Gartland, class of 1995

Rachael enriched our lives today by sharing the story of her life journey, lessons she’s learned and all things art. She brought in two of her stunning pieces of artwork and blew everyone away with the incredible detail, the luxuriousness of the materials and the hand cast framing. These two pieces are a part of a bigger exhibition that’s in development – she can see it perfectly, and now we’ve had a glimpse during our artist conversation, we can visualize it too.

Pia De Bruyn (teacher) was in awe of the pieces and carefully ran her trained eye over them while prompting the students to use their critical thinking skills in advance ways to articulate the story of the art and between the pieces, understand the technical nature of the silk and the interaction with the paint, consider the framing and the museum glass. Discussing these details enhances the studio art curriculum and deepens understanding of the content.

Rachael spoke warmly of her childhood and the international adventures with her young parents (with a little bit of school thrown in between combi van trips) where she couldn’t help being impressed by and learn about the art, culture, and history of Europe. Drawing became a way to express herself as a young girl and her grandfather nurtured her development because he loved to paint.

These early years of travel were a steppingstone for more international adventures as Rachael earned a 12mth student exchange to Germany as an 18yo then returned to Belmont to complete her VCE with the cohort below her. She recalls at school she felt comfortable and competent in the art(s) subjects but told the students that she worked had to really apply herself in math. She believes perseverance is a great thing for personal development and reminds students that sometimes wonderful achievements lie on the other side of lots of hard work. Robbo was noted as one of her favourite teachers and they were thrilled to see each other again after many years.

After high school, Rachael studied a Bachelor of Art, majoring in drawing, art history & print making. She wanted to develop her drawing as she believes it’s a strong foundation for all types of fine art, including painting (where she’s landed as an artist). Travelling between Geelong and Ballarat every day to study and work was key in learning self-discipline, personal organization, and a strong work ethic.

She called London home for a decade as she fortuitously connected with an incredible creative duo of artists who made bespoke chinoiserie wallpaper; Rachael joined their team and worked, lived and breathed their business with them for 10 years then moved to Melbourne and ran their Australian operation. By this stage Rachael was a skilled General Manager and deeply knowledgeable about the unique art form and business of bespoke hand-painted & hand embroidered wall coverings.

Nowadays, Rachael has reached the point in her life where she’s willing to paint full time and take her chance in the art world. She’s is based in Torquay and is cleverly weaving all the threads of her life learnings together by painting on Chinese silk with gouache. We wish Rachael every success and happiness! Go to to see her incredible work.

Key messages to the students…Rachael encourages everyone to:

  • Consider longevity and the benefits of getting a start in something and grabbing every opportunity, fully committing yourself to it and learning as much as possible over a long period of time.
  • Find your own creative voice and hang onto it as it might be a guide for you throughout your life.
  • Unapologetically be yourself, while allowing others to do the same.
  • The ‘otherness’ of being creative is a wonderful opportunity to let the creativity can pass through your body. Sometimes is hard to explain art…it just is.
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Being uncomfortable is a good thing and can lead to positive ends.