Tallman wants art to redeem others

ARTISTIC FOCUS: Robin Wakkajinda wants to help.
ARTISTIC FOCUS: Robin Wakkajinda wants to help. Rob Williams

AN Aboriginal artist who has transformed his life from using drugs and alcohol to conducting a successful art business now wants to help five other indigenous community members find their roots.

Robin "Tallman" Wakkajinda found a lifeline in art after two decades misguided by drugs. On the back of his success with help from the Indigenous Business Enterprise Centre (IBEC), Tallman plans to change the lives of others.

"You don't need drugs and alcohol to find your happiness - you can find happiness through your art," Mr Wakkajinda said.

"I left Ipswich for five years, came back and the same people were still sitting in the mall not doing anything with their lives.

"I've seen the light, I've got away from the drugs and alcohol and now I want others to help others too."

IBEC has launched a one-year program to provide opportunities for five indigenous people to follow in Tallman's footsteps and pursue their art.

Business manager Clive Pearce said eligible participants would have access to the Business Micro Enterprise program, receive a subsidised workspace, as well as one-on-one business training, mentoring and a funded exhibition upon completion.

"The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs have agreed to subsidise the program," he said. "They've seen Tallman go from a bad place to a good place and now they want to find another five Tallmans."

But Mr Wakkajinda said there was a criterion they were looking for.

"It's got to be someone who wants to change their life," the 35-year-old said.

When not in his studio, Tallman mentors youths at the Gailes Community Centre and conducts workshops with foster children. He said it was his vision to help teenagers find their identity before becoming tangled in drugs and alcohol.

"We used to call them stolen generation, now we call them homeless - that's what I think," Mr Wakkajinda said. The Indigenous Enterprise Development Program will start in April.

Topics:  aboriginal art

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