A letter from Montana

The seeds of Murals for Change were first planted in my heart when I was a young girl growing up on the Coral Coast of Fiji. The lifestyle was simple, untouched and raw. Acknowledging the beauty of this has been instilled in me in many ways ever since. From here we moved back to Australia to a rural community in far North Queensland where we were met with the ruggedness and heat of country living. Living in small, tightly knit communities is something I believe shaped hugely who I am today, but it wasn’t what pushed me to ask for more.

When I was growing up, I always felt different. The things I wanted were never on the menu, and no one could really tell me where to get it. Raised by my mother on her own along with my three brothers, at home we were taught vigilantly - if you want to achieve anything, you have to find it yourself and be creative with how you get there.

My first experiences of painting were in the lounge room of a beach shack in a town of 2,000 people. In our dingy lounge room, the old carpets frayed from the corners so it didn’t matter if they were soiled by a flying drop of paint. If anything, my mum would joke, ‘it made it better’. We didn’t have much, but somehow we always had paint. Granted, my mum was/is an incredible artist, but through the fresh eyes of a little girl - all I saw was her painting how she felt and doing it because it made her feel better. This untainted, nonjudgmental or expectation introduction to painting is a gift I will forever be grateful for and something I have always been passionate about practicing with myself and others.

As I grew older, I continued to use art as a way to express the way I felt and deconstruct whatever was going on inside. Whether it be writing, dancing, spoken word, or artworks of all mediums - I just wanted to give it a go and see how it felt. I painted my first mural alongside my mum when I was in highschool. Over the years she had gone back to university and got her qualifications to be an art teacher. And through this job, she set about her mission to paint our little town with as much art as she could. There was never any fear or instruction with art. She would just put brushes and paints in our hands and say “GO!”. This was when I began practicing how to paint with others with varying skill levels and how to acknowledge the unique differences and qualities we all bring.. And the art of bringing it all together!

As time went on and the expectations of the ‘real world’ sunk in. I began to fear my passions of using art to help our world might not be enough. So I put my head down, studied ridiculously hard, got myself a scholarship and moved away to Brisbane to study an honors degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I was the only one in my grade to move away that year and it was incredibly lonely to step out and do something very few from my town had done before. But I was on a mission.

While I pursued my engineering career, I began working in the public eye through modelling and social media. Without a second thought or plan, I would share my experiences as I navigated through life’s journey with vulnerability and honesty - in hope it would inspire others to do the same. This was so important to me as I felt there was enough in the media that was positioned to make us envy - but what about what’s real? Along the way, I began getting these incredibly deep and insightful messages of how I had impacted others - including inspiring them to paint! First as trickles, and then they came flooding in. I still to this day will receive these messages and be completely gobsmacked with how deeply this ‘username’ will have connected with my story and the impact it has had on their life. I began to think about ways I could connect with people in REAL life and build on what we had shared over this social media whirlwind..

At the start of the year, my partner was injured, leaving him unsure of when or if he would walk again. Not long after, I had fallen pregnant with our very soon to be born baby girl. So amongst the chaos, appreciation for simple joys and at a definite intersection of our lives - we decided we would forge a new path. To us, that looked like: get a bus, raise our baby in nature and spread light to all we can along the way. And so.. Murals for Change was born.

If you asked me if I thought this is what I would be doing at 24, I would have probably laughed and told you ‘I wish!’. But It’s this adaptability, open-mindedness, resilience, willing to try something new that I owe everything to art for. And it’s why I believe in this so completely. 

Our deepest thank you's to everyone who has embarked on this journey with us

Montana xx