Arts & culture

Student–teacher mural to bring magic to Surface Festival

A mural by artist Dion Parker at the 2021 Surface Festival. Image by Red Stockholm

July 4, 2022

A mural by artist Dion Parker at the 2021 Surface Festival. Image by Red Stockholm

Gold Coast art teacher Scott Barnard will next week unleash his creativity alongside a former student in a co-created mural at Miami High—and you’re invited to watch the magic unfold.

The mural will form part of the Surface Festival—a two-week celebration of street art that entices audiences to explore various art forms spilling onto the footpaths, fences and walls of Miami from 3–17 July.

Miami High art teacher Scott Barnard
Image: Scott Barnard

“I didn’t want to do the mural alone, so I’ll have one of my ex-students, Ibaia Kervella, helping me out,” Scott explains.

“Ibaia is one of the best art students I’ve ever had, and she’s really keen to give something back to the school too.”

Ibaia, who now works as a tattoo artist in Kingscliff, will be taking time away from the studio to help Scott complete the mural, which visitors can watch live from 6–7 July, weather permitting.

“Ibaia has this unique style of tattooing, which we’ll try to incorporate into the mural,” Scott says.

“We’ll be working with a cross-hatching technique and won’t be using colour at all, which might shock some people, but it will be black lines on an all-white background.”

The wall the pair will be working on has a pipe, which inspired a water theme for the mural.

However, don’t expect to see a stereotypical beach scene. Scott and Ibaia will conjure something with deeper meaning, tying in themes of education and nurturing that work on multiple levels.

“The idea is to paint a whale, but you won’t see the whole whale,” Scott explains.

“The whale will be in the sky with clouds around it, which will bring an element of magic to it, but school is like that—educational and magical.”

The mural will face the Gold Coast Highway, so Scott says the pressure is on to nail it.

“The whale’s eye will be looking at all the cars going past, which is a play on words gives the term ‘whale watching’ a different meaning,” he says.

The magic of teaching

Scott has always been interested in art and typically did well in the subject in high school. However, when one art teacher failed him, Scott then knew he wanted to become an art teacher himself.

“Maybe there was a part of me that wanted to prove her wrong, but the other part of me just said ‘no, this is what I want to do’,” he says.

“And I love it. I really do. Nobody teaches for the money; you do it for the passion.”

As well as teaching, Scott is the head of the arts department at Miami High. He also has two small children, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to work on his own art. But he’s far from upset about it.

“Teaching art is like sharing magic,” Scott says.

“Working with students and teaching them to paint, draw and sculpt helps me fulfill that creative need.”

Fine time for art on the Gold Coast

When Scott graduated high school more than 20 years ago, he couldn’t wait to leave the Gold Coast. Yearning to be surrounded by fellow creatives, he fled to the US where he studied art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Now, he’s thrilled to be part of the cultural revolution revitalising his hometown.

“It’s an exciting time for art on the Gold Coast,” Scott says.

“There are so many opportunities, pop-up galleries and people sharing their love of the creative arts.

“It’s a great time to be here.”

For more information on the Surface Festival, go to