Nadine Rahman is a local artist and mum of six who moved from London to the Coffs Coast and was inspired by the area’s natural beauty and thriving art scene to create some beautiful botanical works.
Hi Nadine. How did you come to live on the Coffs Coast?
I’m from Kingsbury in North-west London and back-packed around Australia when I was 23. I met an Aussie guy in Darwin, and he followed me back to London when I fell pregnant. We decided to immigrate to Australia after having my second child and drove through Bellingen on the day of the community markets. I loved the craft and creativity I saw, so we settled in Kalang, had another kid, and tried to build a house on a bush block!
The relationship ended and after a year or so, I met my husband, Dom, walking down the street in Urunga! We moved to Repton, which is my favourite place in the world, and had three more kids!
Can you tell us a bit about your works and the kinds of mediums you like to use?
At the moment I’m into detailed studies of botanicals. I love realism and just using a really sharp pencil, but I also find using some colour helps with the beautiful flowers I find. I enjoy drawing or painting on recycled rustic pieces of wood or metal I’ve found before throw out day! I think a pretty plant looks great on a contrasting background.
Before that, I enjoyed oils and acrylics on canvas. I actually love doing anything creative, really; I’ve made and sold cards since I can remember and enjoy printing, embroidery, book-binding, craft … the list goes on!
Can you describe the creative process?
My husband will take the kids twice a week so I can crank out some artwork for an upcoming exhibition. I might have already found a plant or flower in the garden or out walking, so I get out my art materials, set up, put some music on and focus. I’ll stop when I’m done or if I hear the kids come home.
What is your artistic background? Have you always had a love of art?
I managed to get a place at Central St. Martin’s in London for an Art Foundation course after school, which was pretty amazing. I then did a degree in Print Media at the London College of Printing, where I specialised in book arts, which included book-binding, paper engineering and printing. I have always loved drawing for as long as I can remember.
Is there anyone you would say you are particularly influenced or inspired by?
Growing up, my mum influenced me with her talent in making clothes for us and mini ones for our dolls! I used to stand and watch her at the sewing machine for hours! London and all of its creative influences also inspired me. I used to wonder around art galleries after uni. I’d say Quentin Blake was my biggest inspiration and since having kids, the children’s illustrator Axel Scheffler has impressed me!
How much of an influence has the Coffs landscape been to your artwork?
It was such an extreme change moving from London to Kalang. Being so close to nature has had a huge influence on me. The river, rainforests and beach still amaze me and every chance I get, I will pick something up to study it and decide if I want to draw it. I never did that in London! I would love to do some landscape paintings of this area but need to brush up on my landscaping skills first!
Are there any of your own pieces that you feel really connected to?
I did a few tree paintings when I was pregnant. One of them has my family walking amongst huge Boab trees and the other is a pregnant woman about to give birth under a Boab tree. I am connected to them, because mothering and family are so important to me.
I also feel connected to anything I draw from my garden. I think it’s because I feel so lucky to feed my children food from my garden and to be able to document that somehow. I sold a study of a banana flower at the Dead Flowers Exhibition in November last year and was very proud of that.
Do you feel there is much of an art community here on the Coffs Coast?
Yes! I love the art scene here. The art class I mentioned before, Dead Flowers Society at the Bellingen Brewery every Wednesday evening, is such a good idea, and Big Fig Arts have just started a new drawing class fortnightly on Tuesday mornings too. There are so many talented artists and musicians in this area; I think there is so much going on.
I’ve enjoyed seeing local artists exhibit their work, and I try to go to galleries as often as I can.
Where can people see your work?
I recently put some of my work up on Instagram and I have a few pieces for sale on the wall at the Mylestom Store, which is my other local hangout. I’m also very excited to have an exhibition at The Bellingen Brewery with my dear friend Fiona Minto in May this year!