Creative Masters student overcomes incredible adversity to graduate

Creative Masters student overcomes incredible adversity to graduate

Not even recovering from a broken back and intermittently living out of a van could stop Libby Clarke completing her masters this year.

The inspirational RMIT graduate, whose pseudonym is “Liberatas”, also gained international recognition for her practice in location-based gaming or playable cartography.

Libby has been invited to show her work at major conferences, exhibitions and events around the globe.

Her passion for outdoor education and being a role model to younger siblings has played a major role in shaping her path and motivating her to push on through such adversity.

After finishing a Fine Arts Degree at the Victorian College of the Arts majoring in animation and a brief stint as a primary school teacher, she then decided to pursue her passion and return to study a Master of Animation, Games and Interactivity (MAGI) at RMIT.

Libby Clarke enjoys her work in outdoor education that has also supported her while completing a Master of Animation, Games and Interactivity at RMIT. Libby Clarke enjoys her work in outdoor education that has also supported her while completing a Master of Animation, Games and Interactivity at RMIT.

“I’ve worked in outdoor education for years to support myself, including this past five years studying the masters part-time,” she said.

“I enjoy working with young people and helping to build their self-esteem through activities like surf-instructing and high ropes courses.

“I also have two younger kid sisters who are 14 and 15 years old.

“I wanted to be a good role model and show them that you can follow your dreams even if things get a bit hard. That was a big motivation for me.”

Libby acknowledged there have been tough times, but she doesn’t complain.

“When I was living a nomad lifestyle for a while, sleeping in a van along Victoria’s Surf Coast, I’d go off to work and then also travel into the city for study,” she said.

Following a car accident in late 2019 in which she broke her spine, Libby was hospitalised for a month, and subsequently found herself in and out of hospital for rehabilitation in early 2020.

She says she’s on the mend now.

“I’m nearly there, and this whole experience has built my confidence in a way,” she said.

“In the past I’ve always been rushing here and there, so this has been good for slowing me down a little bit!

“It’s no good sitting around sulking.

"If there is a will, there’s a way- when one door closes, another opens and if not, break a window.” 


Embracing university life and beyond

Libby says she loved the vibrant and collaborative atmosphere in her course at RMIT.

“They create this environment in the studios where the students and lecturers work together on a lot of collaborative projects with ‘real world’ output,” she said.

“It’s an amazingly supportive and welcoming community where you meet many diverse and cool people.

“In second year, I was lucky to win a scholarship to Finland, where teams of international students worked to solve a challenge together.

“That was also a really interesting experience, especially because we didn’t speak the same language!”

Libby describes her current focus on playable cartography as using maps, location-based games, and GPS information to capture experiential data or autobiographical narratives of local people in an area.

The practice investigates how you can use these digital interfaces to embed in the locations and connect people without them coming into contact.

Five of her classmates have now joined forces as a collective, Orcha, and successfully pitched their playable cartography projects to galleries and events for next year.

“We’ll be involved in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria during Melbourne Design Week,” she said.

“We’re also enjoying working on a very exciting app that is expected to exhibit in Brisbane next year – but I am not allowed to disclose exact event details yet! It is a very exciting project to be involved in. 

“Our app aims to help teach people about the importance of caring for the environment by virtually planting seeds in the gardens and caring for them as they grow.”

“It’s a really exciting time and I’m now looking forward to doing my PhD next year and working on these major exhibitions and events.”

Find out more about Libby Clarke’s work here.

Congratulations to RMIT’s Class of 2020. This year’s graduating class are like no other: strong, resilient, and inspired. RMIT is excited to welcome the graduates into our global alumni network, spanning more than 140 countries and 400,000 alumni.

Story: Kate Milkins

17 December 2020

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17 December 2020

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  • Arts and culture
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