‘One Of The Coolest Experiences’: Robert Michael Young Eliminated From Making It Australia

Robert was at the top of the pack, consistently putting up incredible artworks which told the stories of his Indigenous culture.

On Wednesday night, he was sadly sent home after his transformation of a piano into a dressing table wasn’t up to the judges’ standards.

When he joined the show, Robert wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, he just knew that he wanted to “have fun, make some friends and just experience it all”.

But he did so much more than just create artworks – he celebrated and told the stories of his Gunnai, Waradjuri, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta culture.

“People believe Aboriginal art is just dot painting, which it is, from a certain region in Central Australia,” Robert told 10 play.

“I think sharing culture and history and stories with people through a visual representation is so important because of the misinformation around Aboriginal art and Aboriginal culture. Different markings and different styles of painting represents a different region.”

With a successful career in Aboriginal art, he’s done murals, collaborations with big brands and travelled around the world.

“I've been working as an artist for about six years full time, so I do murals and sculptures around Melbourne and I’ve been to New Zealand and Israel for my art. Currently, I’m just working on a large sculpture out in the northern suburbs in Craigieburn. And then doing a couple murals for some universities,” he said.

“I think the need and the push for public arts and beautifying our streets has really changed since COVID. Because they’re like, I want to see something pretty! That’s the reason why I got to meet Prince Harry and Megan, because my mural was on the side of the building that they ate at, which is really cool. But I think one of the coolest experiences was when I saw people wearing my jumper, t-shirts and shoes that I designed for Puma.”

While on Making It Australia, Robert created a variety of projects, from his cultural shield to a night owl night light and a cubby house.

“I'd have to say my favourite was between the shield and then the cubby, I think they just kind of showcased what I would want to create for my nieces or what I feel my personal space of my inner world would kind of look like.”

Getting feedback from the judges was also a highlight for Robert.

“I think some of the most fun moments were absolutely when the cameras weren't rolling. I had time to just chat with them and talk about art and their experiences with art and just how they connected with it, and were very thankful that I shared my culture with them,” he said.

But the hardest part was the early wake up calls, and time constraints.

“Not being able to create in the way in which I like to create, like I love to have music blaring and headphones and I'm very spontaneous with my breaks. So I’m like, I'll just chill for an hour and they’re all like we have a time limit, you can’t stop.”

Robert didn’t always know that art was his passion; he was set to play football professionally and studied theatre at university. Then, he came to a realisation that spreading Aboriginal art was what he wanted to spend his life doing.

“[After studying at university], I moved back in with my parents and started painting again. I realised art is whatever you choose to call it. It was about six years ago, we always went with my mum, who is the painter of the family, to the Night Markets and helped set up her store to sell her and my uncle's paintings,” he said.

“I had a couple little paintings, and I sold my very first painting I think for like $40 and I was blown away, and then I sold another one, which was one of my abstract, colourful echidnas. And people were like, wow, that's pretty cool. And then it shot up from there, it just went crazy.”

Robert learnt a lot about himself and various other art forms while on the show and has loved watching it back on TV.

“Watching myself, I didn't realise how much I smile. But also, one of the things that one of the other contestants said was I know how to bring laughter and also I’m just very aware of everything that's going on around me.

“Towards the end of the last two episodes, I just started dancing. Or like before we started filming I’d just dance on set, just got to bring the energy up because the days were intense,” he laughed.

Robert’s Making It journey enabled him to create friendships for life, showcase his talent to all of Australia and share the stories of his culture, something which he holds very close to his heart.

“Culture is so important to me and I think it informs your art and informs your story, but also gives you a creative depth that a lot of people think they’re past or beyond sometimes,” Robert continued. “It actually informs who you are as a part of your identity and DNA.”

Making It Australia is on Wednesday, 15 September at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand