Heathdale flower 17th February 2021

Fit for the Gallery

Top artist, elite gymnast. Sarkis Chehade has combined his two passions to be accepted into RMIT’s Elite Athletes program to study Graphic Design.

Heathdale flower

For the past nine years, Sarkis trained for four hours a day, four times a week as a gymnast. In 2019, he competed in the Junior Nationals Competition (for 18-20 year olds), achieving first place with the Victorian team and an individual third place win on the parallel bars. “Staying in the competitors’ rooms at Hisense arena was a great experience. We felt like we were elite athletes. I didn’t expect to win anything so walking away with a third-place medal was really awesome. No competitions were held during 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions so I’m still the current third-place holder in Australia!”

Sarkis is also a gifted artist. He has always loved Art and took it up as a subject when he joined Heathdale Christian College in Year 9. He credits his Years 11 and 12 teacher, Ms Watson, for really pushing him to where he needed to be and enabling him to produce his best work. “It often took a long time to complete pieces”, he said, “but it was so good when they were finished. A huge part of Art is trying to work out what you are going to say. I remember sitting at my computer for ages, not knowing what to write about. My teacher told me to “just write!”. She said that it didn’t matter what I wrote, I didn’t have to submit it, I just had to write what I thought. As soon as I stopped thinking and just started to write down my ideas they came together really quickly. That’s something that Ms Watson really helped me with. I’m not as good at writing as I am at Art. My writing is definitely not beautiful so I thought I would take my ball point pen and use it to make something beautiful in my Art work. I think it turned out alright.” Sarkis has created some fantastic pieces of work, which are more than ‘alright’. In fact, Sarkis’ work was nominated for the annual Top Arts exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Inspired by his Dad, Sarkis’ dream is to follow in his footsteps and study Graphic Design next year at RMIT or Swinburne University. He has already been accepted into the RMIT Elite Athletes’ Program at RMIT to study a Bachelor in Graphic Design. “My Dad’s a Design Artist,” said Sarkis, “and when I was growing up he’d often ask me to sit down and critique his designs for his clients. That was really fun. Last year he let me create a design for a charity event. He took my design to the clients and they liked it. That was a really cool thing to do.”

Despite 2020 being a challenging and disrupted year due to the impact of COVID-19, Sarkis has still enjoyed the social aspect of school life and the friendships he has developed. Hopefully, he will achieve his dreams of studying at University next year as well as keeping in touch with the friends he has made during his time at Heathdale.