Young deaf artist recognised with “Gallery in the Sky”


A budding deaf artist has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime, with her artwork depicting a scene on the Yarra-Birrarung River unveiled on a major construction site in Southbank and now on show for 12 months.

Twenty-year-old Shepparton artist Maggie Sandles was invited to participate in Crema Construction’s “Gallery in the Sky” initiative, which has seen her artwork enlarged to a 6.3-metre-high, 11.81-metre-long display.

Currently situated atop the 12th floor of the “Madison Grand” 344 City Rd by developer Gurner, the artwork will eventually rise up 40 floors over the course of construction, which is due for completion in the coming years.

“I have never been a part of something like this in the art world. It is an amazing opportunity,” Ms Sandles said.


I recognise the opportunity is a large one and potentially a platform to share my journey with other kids. I aim to show even though disabilities can present challenges, it can also come with amazing opportunities that otherwise we wouldn’t get.


In response to the theme “Living in Melbourne”, she said she combined her passions for art and sport, adding that the colours she selected for her oil painting represented the radiance of Melbourne at dawn.

“The theme of the piece was my interpretation of Melbourne. For me, rowing has a large impact on my childhood throughout my secondary education,” she said.

“I spent almost every day on the water, and I experienced some of the best and worst times. I made lifelong friendships and am very grateful for the lessons rowing taught me. I believe resilience and perseverance are two values I still carry in my life today, thanks to rowing.”

Ms Sandles said she was grateful and overwhelmed by the support she had received through Crema  Constructions and from Death Children Australia, including family and friends as part of the initiative.

“I have been fortunate enough to have had lots of positive feedback through social media and friends and family. I am really appreciative of everyone who likes the artwork and I hope that people are able to see my interpretation of Melbourne within the painting,” she said.

Crema Constructions general manager Adam Keenan Dunn said the initiative supported both the work of emerging local artists and a charity of their choice.

“We initially saw Maggie’s artwork when she won Deaf Children Australia’s inaugural national art competition last year and knew she would be a wonderful candidate for Gallery in the Sky, so we commissioned her to create a unique piece for the project,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to see Maggie’s beautiful artwork of a famous Melbourne scene, come to life in such epic proportions on one of our major construction sites.”

Ms Sandles will receive $2500 for her commissioned artwork, while Crema Constructions will also donate to Deaf Children Australia.

Meanwhile, the young artist continues to strive for even bigger personal goals, and said she hoped to use her success to inspire others.

“Through the collaboration with Crema Constructions and Deaf Children Australia, I have definitely been encouraged to explore more with my art and how I can express my creativity,” she said.

“However, my main goal now is focused towards paratriathlon. I am aiming towards the Paralympics in 2024. So, while this is my main focus, I believe that art will remain as a creative outlet.”

“My disability presents a lot of daily challenges, however, with the support of family and friends as well as goals I have set out for myself such as the Paralympics, I find it is easy to enjoy every day as it comes.”

“As a paraathlete and an ambassador for Deaf Children Australia and Usher Kids Australia, I hope I am able to show that if you want something, the universe has a way of making it happen.” •

Photography by Wayne Taylor.

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