Rahla Xenopolous (SOLD)


Medium: Oil on wood Size: 880 x 720mm From Kelly's catalogue 'Outsiders'.

Artwork Story:
Rahla Xenopolous
Author, mother

“I guess having ADHD, dyslexia and remedial problems as a child, failing two years, being expelled and never getting a matric, having bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder, all conspired over the years to make me, unavoidably, an outsider. These things… and also having crazy, curly hair. People with curly hair are often outsiders, don't you find?

“An outsider is a person who sees the world differently and is, in turn, seen differently by the world. Remember the Janis Ian song about learning the truth at 17 and not getting picked for the basketball team? So, I think if you're the girl who isn't picked for the basketball team, it doesn't matter how many teams and parties and dates you’re picked for, there's a part of you that will always be the girl in the Janis Ian song. You'll always feel outside – not from the basketball team, but from the team of life, and maybe that ain’t a bad thing. 

“I remember being very excited to start school because my godmother was my grade one teacher. I assumed, as do all our children, that I'd be the smartest kid in the class. There were those big alphabet murals on the wall – the ones that go ‘A is for Apple’. All the children read the letters aloud, A to Z, while I stumbled, stammered and hyperventilated on ‘A’ and the class, and my teacher, laughed. At that moment, a penny dropped. I knew that if I was going to survive I had to realise I was outside of that classroom. 

“Some days being an outsider is a scary thing: you feel like you'll never have a home, and I don’t think people trust outsiders. Other days it's a good thing: you feel impervious, and if you're on the outside, then you're looking in, seeing from a different perspective.”