She’s known as DJ Ruby Red, but when the coronavirus put the nation into lockdown, Randa Magdi changed the track.
The Hamlyn Terrace local went into lockdown in early March as a precaution, but when it became apparent that the pandemic wasn’t going away, the DJ turned to the creative arts for solace.
Picking up the paintbrush seriously for the first time in 25 years, Magdi has since rekindled her love of artmaking, and big things are happening for the 56-year-old, who’s gone from sharing her work with Facebook friends to planning her first exhibition.
A long time art lover, Magdi is hopeful that her experience will help encourage more people to rediscover the creative and performing arts.
“In my younger days, I actually went to art school to study art history, but after finishing, life got hectic and I sort of fell out of love with art,” Magdi explained.
“I was and still am an avid gallery goer and before Covid, I regularly travelled to galleries, art festivals and events, but it’s been almost three decades since I actually created anything myself.
“One day I just thought to myself ‘you’re in lockdown why not?’
“From the first brushstroke, something just reignited inside me and I’ve been creating ever since,” Magdi said.
Faces are her subject of choice, with the modern abstractionist blending colour with harsh lines to create a series of captivating replicas of famous artworks and portraits of people, real and imagined.
After sharing a few of her pieces online and receiving positive feedback, Magdi said she felt invigorated to keep sharing, and in a nod to the power of social media, eventually she was invited to participate in Newcastle’s Same but Different exhibition, as well as Wyong’s La Carta Art Gallery and Café, which is renowned for providing a platform for budding local artists to display their work.
It was at La Carta where Magdi sold her first piece of art and now the up and comer is planning something even bigger, her first solo show.
“I live with multiple sclerosis and was actually approached by NDIS plan management business, Planting the Seed, about hosting my own exhibition.
“They found my posts and offered to help finance a show at The Entrance Gallery, which is just incredible,” Magdi said.
Hoping to open it sometime in the next 12 months, when it comes to the arts, Magdi’s advice to her fellow northerners is to just give it a go.
“They say it takes courage to make art and I assume that’s because we’re all worried about being judged, but this is an area of my life where I honestly haven’t cared less about what other people think.
“My art is just for me; the positive feedback is just a bonus.”
With the internet making it easier than ever before for locals to find, connect and experience the arts, Magdi is now encouraging locals to revisit past passions and actively reconnect with their own creativity.
“I think as we get older and become more critical, we tell ourselves that we aren’t creative or that we aren’t good at something for fear of being criticised, but now art is just the touch of a button away.
“And there are so many tutorials available online, I myself have been learning about shading through a YouTube series and I’m also learning how to play the guitar that way, so I just think it all comes down to trying.
“Don’t be afraid to give something a go because you’re worried what other people might think.
“It’s good for the soul.”