Artist picks up brush to discover his redemption

Robin Wakkajinda is having an exhibition of his art at the old courthouse opening on Friday night. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Robin Wakkajinda is having an exhibition of his art at the old courthouse opening on Friday night. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

AFTER 22 years blurred with drugs and alcohol Robin 'Tallman' Wakkajinda found his lifeline in art.

A disadvantaged childhood and limited education led the local Aboriginal artist to go off the rails in his early years.

But inspired by his four children, Mr Wakkajinda has turned his life around and is now mentoring children to break what he called "the cycle".

"I always got into mischief with the drugs and alcohol," he said.

"I never had any guidance, I had no father figure.

"I'm not ashamed to admit that a result of many of theses poor choices was a short stay in the big house (prison).

"The drugs and alcohol ruined the relationships in my life."

An accident in 1999 triggered Mr Wakkajinda to try to become a better person.

High on drugs he punched a window. His injuries required 30,000 internal and external stitches, and he lost muscle in his back and veins in his legs.

"I picked up a paint brush while I was in hospital and started painting straight away," Mr Wakkajinda said.

"Painting is my rehab. It has straightened me out in life."

"I express my feelings through paint and it brings me a lot of harmony."

Mr Wakkajinda, a descendant of the Wakka Wakka Jinda tribe in the South Burnett, has made it his ambition in teach children in the hope they don't make the same decisions he did. He sought assistance through the Indigenous Business Enterprise Centre to turn his hobby into a sustainable profession.

"I've been such a reckless man in the past that I feel I've taken from the community, now it is time for me to give back to the community," he said.

"I'm trying to break the cycle of the generations by being a role model and big brother to them. What I do, my children will follow."

Mr Wakkajinda will unveil his exhibition called Tallman's Gathering at the Old Ipswich Court House on Friday night.

He said his artwork was inspired by his children and the Dreamtime.

"When I dream a bad dream I will paint a bad painting and vice versa," Mr Wakkajinda said.

"If I feel good one day you will see the brightness of colours in my painting."

Tallman's exhibition will open for viewing today, 5pm to 8pm and December 1 and 2 from 9am to 3pm at the Old Ipswich Court House on the corner of East and Roderick Sts.

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