My name is Louise Rabey, I am an illustrator specialising in children’s illustration and also currently working on writing and illustrating my own comics. I have been working professionally for about 7 years and originally studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Plymouth University which I graduated from in 2013, most recently I graduated from MA Illustration with Falmouth University in 2021.
What are you working on at the moment? What was your role/project as BAS9 ambassador?
I have been working with Gabi Marcellus-Temple as a co-ambassador for the British Art Show 9 in Plymouth. We have been working on a project addressing accessibility between and inside the galleries used for British Art Show 9 for different disabilities. This project entails an interactive web game that provides directions audiences have to follow whilst visiting the show.
What do you generally hope to achieve through your work? Has this changed over time?
Overall In my authorial work I am passionate about exploring how I can communicate social issues that I am passionate about in an empathetic and thought provoking way and using this as a tool to educate both myself and my audiences.
The project we worked on as ambassadors definitely feeds into this passion, my hope is that it supported individuals with the disabilities we have created routes for and allowed them to enjoy the British Art Show with minimal stress of navigating between the venues, whilst also educating able bodied individuals about accessibility requirements, and the common issues that disabled people regularly have to navigate.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I can get my inspiration from anywhere to be honest. For me this specific project was primarily inspired by Gabi’s and my own personal experiences with our disabilities, and the difficulties that we have experienced with accessibility.
How do you think your work impacts the community in Plymouth? What do you hope people will take away from it?
I am hoping that this project will raise important issues around accessibility in the city, and provide insight into how Plymouth can improve on this.
Why are you based in Plymouth? What is it about living and working in Plymouth that attracts/keeps you here?
I came to Plymouth to study my BA in Fine Art in 2010, coming from a small isolated village in the middle of Cornwall I was drawn to the city and the sudden influx of things to do, which is what prompted me to stay once I graduated. Over the last few years I have grown passionate about growing and supporting the creative sector in the city, and have seen some amazing projects develop including the Plymouth art weekender, sculpture trails, the increasing development of empty shops being used for creative purposes, and now 2 British art show visits. I believe that Plymouth has potential to build an incredibly strong cultural sector.
What path did you take to get to this point? Were there any particular organisations that stand out to you that have been crucial on your journey?
After studying my BA, I started working at flameworks creative arts facility from 2014, and left the position very recently. Working there was definitely a stepping stone to where I am today, I gained many connections and coordinated some amazing projects, flameworks is also where I met Gabi – who hired me for the position! Since then I have been working hard to build my freelance career and over the last couple of years began branching my freelancing into bigger projects in Plymouth, including working with feminist fusion on their MEMORIA exhibition, and joining Visual Arts Plymouth (VAP) as one of their directors.
The most crucial part of my journey has been my Masters degree in Illustration, which has been an important aspect for me and my freelance career, I definitely learnt a lot through the course and love how my style has developed.
What would be your advice to creatives starting their careers?
To not give up, and to research your market and audiences and where to find them, starting out in the creative sector is difficult and rejections will happen but so will successes.
What are your hopes for your work in the future? What do you hope to achieve?
My primary focus with my work, after BAS9 is to build on my authorial practice and publishing some comics, I also hope to work on more inclusive art projects in Plymouth.
What are your hopes for Plymouth? What do you think it should aspire to be? What do you hope it can become? How do you think we need to evolve or change? What does the city need to do better?
As mentioned I do think Plymouth has potential to build a really strong cultural sector, but still has some ways to go. Funding and affordable spaces are an issue for many creatives in the city and I would love to see this improve. What I have learnt from working on this project as an ambassador as well is that the city still has a lot of room for improvement with accessibility as well.
What’s the one cultural venue/place/work/person you would recommend to an outsider visiting Plymouth? Why?
I would definitely recommend looking up Visual Arts Plymouth, and keeping an eye out for the Plymouth Art Weekender. This weekend event is incredibly popular and is a big celebration of arts and culture in the city.