Deborah Ralph-Kafarela b. 1968 North Shore, NSW, Australia, is a contemporary multidisciplinary artist working and residing in the Perth Hills of Western Australia.
Predominantly a sculptor the raw use of a medium is an integral part of the layered concepts in Ralph-Kafarela’s work. Often using mediums such as bees wax, wood, pigment, gold leaf, copper, paper and ink. ‘keeping a pallet simple quiets, the mind allowing the viewer to deeply, reflect and feel the work’.
Ralph-Kafarela’s artistic practice is influenced by her ancestral connections of politics, theatre, music and visual art. Inspirational memories as a young child was watching her father Robert Ralph, paint various commissioned works and on a ladder painting the face of Luna Park, to upgrade the theme park. in Sydney, NSW, ‘Dad was always encouraging me at a young age to draw.’
Academic studies have included Claremont School of Art, an Advanced Diploma of Environmental Art and Design at Polytechnic West, Midland, 2013 and a Double Major Degree in Visual Art and Design at Curtin University 2015.
Deborah Ralph-Kafarela has had three Solo Exhibitions, ‘Lines of Communication’, 2016, ‘I am Deborah Ralph’ 2018 and ‘Multa Plenty’ Residency and Exhibition, 2019 as well as several Group Exhibitions. With a Human Rights focus Ralph-Kafarela was a 2017 Professional Finalist in the Ravenswood National Women’s Art Prize in Sydney, NSW for ‘Memorium’, an Installation depicting the 100 women who die from Domestic Violence every year in Australia. And in 2017 Ralph-Kafarela won the Town of Bassendean Acquisitive Art Prize for ‘Petitioning’ a Women’s Suffragette installation, depicting a one kilometre scroll of her name beseeching Governments, Communities, and Individuals to review current Women’s Human Rights surrounding Domestic Violence.
The Mutla Plenty, Residency and Exhibition in 2019, a seven-week Artist in Focus at Midland Junction Art Centre, Midland, WA. Ralph-Kafarela’s relational aesthetic approach to pragmatic large scale sculptural installations engaged the local community to collaborate as the artists. The works opened discussion and practical application towards another human rights issue, that of ‘homelessness’, responding to ‘The Western Australian Strategy to Endhomelessness. Together we can make a difference, a whole community response. 2018-2028’. A housing first initiative.
Reflecting on Ralph-Kafarela’s work to date she states, “As an artist I am moving away from being a visual commentator on society to a ‘facilitator’ as Nicholas Burraiud stated in Relational Aesthetics 2002. Promoting change, bridging the gap between socio economic, social, gender and cultural difference. Opening discussion and engaging action through art on human rights issues in Australia and encouraging ‘cultural environmentalism, a shift away from an egological to an ecological modernity or cosmodernity…’ as Amy Elias explains in The Dialogical Avant Guarde: Relational Aesthetics and Time Evologies in Only Revolutions and TOC, 2012”.
Artists of influence are Joseph Beuys, Suzanne Lacey, Rick Lowe, Rikrit Tiravanija and Felix Gonzalez-Torres in whom all have been successful in using relational aesthetics and pragmatic art practices. These artists delivered social and political observations and concerns, evoked change of thought and especially active support in improvements in society.