Module 1 – Preliminary
CATHRYN RICKETTS: Hi. My name’s Cathryn Ricketts. And I’m the 7 to 12 Creative Arts advisor for the learning and teaching directorate of the Department of Education. Welcome to the stage six visual arts syllabus resource. These resources are available as six hours of registered learning through MyPL if you can play module 1, 2, and 3.
These resources can also be accessed as self-identified learning through the Creative Arts curriculum page. Module 1 investigates and increases teacher mastery of the stage 6 visual arts syllabus for the preliminary component of the syllabus. The assessment component includes evaluating one of your own units of work. Engaging with this module through MyPL is 1.5 registered hours of professional learning.
Module 2 investigates the HSC component of the stage 6 visual arts syllabus. The assessment component includes writing about an artwork and incorporating specific syllabus content. Engaging with this module through my MyPL is 1.5 registered hours of professional learning. Module 3 allows you to choose two of seven sets of video interviews of teachers, students, and curators. Engaging with this module through MyPL is three hours of professional learning.
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Module 1 introduction
CATHRYN RICKETTS: Hi. My name’s Cathryn Ricketts. And I’m the 7 to Creative Arts Advisor for the Department of Education. In this e-learning module, you will investigate and increase your mastery of the stage 6 visual arts preliminary syllabus.
This module is self-paced and should take about an hour to complete. The learning intentions for this module are to increase teacher confidence and familiar reality with the stage 6 visual arts, increase understanding of the course requirements, refresh aspects of the syllabus including art making, art criticism, and art history, review practice the conceptual framework and the frames, and to critically evaluate one of your teaching programs. At the end of the learning component of the module, you will be asked to review and reflect on one of your teaching programs for year 11.
Completion of this assessment adds an hour to the professional learning for this module. Once you have completed the e-learning module and the task, you can move on to module 2. You will need to have the unit reflection cited and signed off by a supervisor, head teacher, deputy, or principal. You are now ready to begin.
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Module 2 – HSC
Module 2 introduction
CATHRYN RICKETTS: Hi. My name’s Cathryn Ricketts. And I’m the 7 to 12 Creative Arts advisor for the Department of Education. In this e-learning module, you will investigate the stage 6 HSE visual arts syllabus components.
This module is self-paced and should take about an hour and a half to complete. The learning intentions for this module are to increase teacher confidence with stage 6 visual art syllabuses, increase understanding of the course requirements, refresh aspects of the syllabus– including art making, art criticism, and art history– review practice, the conceptual framework and the frames, and to create a written response to an artwork addressing the key content areas. This module will contribute an hour and a half to your learning.
Once you have completed the e-learning module and the assessment task, you can move on to module 3, the video interview sets. You will need to have the response cited and signed off by a supervisor, head teacher, deputy, or principal. You are now ready to begin.
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Module 3 – student/artist and teacher interviews
Module 3 introduction
CATHRYN RICKETTS: Hi. My name’s Cathryn Ricketts. And I’m the 7 to 12 creative arts advisor for the Department of Education. Welcome to module 3. And congratulations on completing the first two modules, which were focused on the stage 6 syllabus.
This module focuses on the development of the body of work through the examples of teacher practice and student experience. Resources are drawn from ARTEXPRESS. The learning intentions for this module are to increase teacher capacity through exposure to a wide range of classroom practices, develop resources for classroom use, enable teachers to explicitly explore links between their classroom practice, specific outcomes, the teacher professional standards, and their school’s strategic directions, reflect on their learning and share it with others.
Several visual arts teaches around seven students from New South Wales have been asked to respond to questions about their practice and experiences. Teacher interviews share their experience, ideas, and suggestions on the classroom environment, the importance of your 11, introducing the body of work, engaging the students, meeting challenges, and art world references. Student interviews provide responses, which incorporate their experiences of creating the body of work and advice for their peers.
Additionally, we have interviews with regional gallery curators from Dubbo, Tamworth, and Wagga Wagga. These interviews acknowledge student art making practice and are valuable as an education resource for schools. They highlight the connection between the audience and the artwork.
Additionally, these interviews provide a resource for teachers for use in the classroom. You are to select to interview sets and respond to the question sheet in the resources pack as you engage with the interviews. Once complete, your head teacher or deputy principal can sign these off for you. Please share these resources and your responses with your colleagues and networks. Thank you.
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Student | Beverly Hills Girls High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] JAMIE WONG: My name’s Jamie Wong. My body of work is unnatural selection. And it’s a sculpture made of cardboard.
Experimenting and understanding different expressive forms, ideas, art movements really helped in understanding how I wanted to approach my body of work and what sort of message I wanted to convey. Initially, I wanted to do some woodcarving. But I had no experience in it. And I was advised not to do it if it was the first time or how much time I need.
So I still wanted to continue with the sculpture idea. And seeing a lot of past HSC body of works, a lot of them had to do with, well, a couple of them had to do with animals. And I wanted to approach something with, say, birds because I recently did adopt a bird during that time. And I wanted to see if I could incorporate it into my body of work.
At first, I wanted to just look at one type of bird, which was the cockatoo. But over time, I was advised to continue working on more than just one. And it would be better for my concept to work on more than just one. So it slowly evolved into me having three separate birds.
I used my VAPD for documentation, researching how the birds move, also having different artists that I can refer back to, images for references, anything that I could improve on. And it was really useful in looking back at seeing how I did things and techniques and how I could improve on it over time.
One challenge in making my body of work was trying to figure out how to make certain textures like bark, feathers, and everything to make it look more realistic, and also having to cut everything individually. So I had to ask a couple of people, like my art teacher, how to make the bark, like ripping pieces together or cutting it up, seeing which one worked better.
I looked at quite a few artists. But two really stuck with me. And that was Laurence Vallieres and Anna-Wili Highfield. Both of them really looked at animals. The first one looked at making cardboard animals very realistic. While the second one was just birds out of paper. We got a lot of resources from our teachers, advice on where to look, such as Art Express, previous people, and how they looked at different artists as well, also looking through that cardboard book, and just exploring.
Having individual feedback and having schedules like assessments and exhibitions like the CAPA night, knowing when you should have a certain degree of your body of work finished, considering which time you can allocate to spending on your body of work, all that all together really helped. And overall, knowing when you should spend on doing certain assignments for different subjects as well as your body of work really helps.
You have to be responsible with your own time, your own schedule. Know when you should spend doing different stuff for different subjects, different assessments, knowing when you should have free time, when you should spend working on your part time job, knowing what you should do at what time, that really helps. It’s also good to have a break every now and then, not just focus all on working. Because at some point, you’re going to overwork yourself if you keep doing that. So having a break is good. Planning out what you should get done also really good.
Have confidence and ask your teacher when you need help. Because sometimes when you’re stuck, you should just break out of that mindset that this is just me working on it and really ask for someone else’s advice on how to approach stuff because someone else’s advice could really help you along the way. Like for me, I really wanted to just do one bird. But over time, it did help to have three rather than just one. It really solidified the concept behind my body of work.
Teacher | Beverly Hills Girls High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] LAURA RE: My name’s Laura Re. I’m a visual arts teacher at Beverly Hills Girls High School. We have a large EALD population of over 90%. So we have a beautiful, large, multicultural cohort that we work with, which makes for a beautiful diverse range of students.
We introduce the body of work through several stages, the first being going to Art Express, the excursion that we take the students to, but also encouraging students to look online at past HSC works. We also use the exam workbook for visual arts. And we look at our own exemplars along with the VAPD, so that students can see the correlation between the process of working through the idea through to the completed artwork. We discuss timelines quite early on in the year as well, so that students know the expectations of the year and when they should be producing works for and what they should have produced within that time frame.
At the beginning of year 12, we submit a survey to all the students. And in that survey, we have a list of different concepts that students might be interested in exploring, all the expressive forms, as well as past works that they might have enjoyed or had some success working in, but also looking at other things like their extra curricular activities, their part time work, as well as any other major projects. And this is used as a springboard not just for them but also for us, so that we can work individually with the students to see their time frames, their time constraints, and also the areas of interest for them. And then we can work together to develop their body of work.
We encourage students to explore concepts and materials and mediums that they have enjoyed but also have had some success working in as well. Because that way, they feel more ownership to their work. And we also encourage students to explore authentic concepts that link back to their own experiences and beliefs. Because that way, they’re taking more ownership of their work, and they feel more connected to the process.
We work closely with the students to guide them. But we are not prescriptive. So we are encouraging students throughout the year to produce their body of work, while at the same time encouraging them to consider the fact that their works will evolve as the year progresses. And we do encourage that reflection throughout the year as well.
When Jamie was able to demonstrate the significance of meticulous planning and research. Because of the fact that she had researched her work so thoroughly, she was able to break down her work into smaller stages. And because of that, her work was not only aesthetically pleasing but conceptually strong. Together, we discussed her concepts and ideas as well as the mediums that she was going to explore. And because of that continuous discourse, we were able to develop her work from one concept which she was originally working towards to something that was able to be utilized using cardboard, which enhanced the overall concept of her work as well.
So students utilize their VAPD throughout the year. And it’s a fantastic way to explore their concepts, to solidify those concepts as well, and then also to experiment and justify those experiments as well. So it’s that constant reflection. And we encourage ongoing use of the VAPD because, as the work evolves throughout the year, that should be documented and reflected upon because that helps to inform their next steps as well.
It’s also a really important way of providing formalized feedback to the students and to give students that next step where they could be going next or what they could be producing next to ensure that their work is resolved. And the VAPD always should accompany their body of work, but it shouldn’t be used as their body of work. And sometimes, I think students do get caught in the idea of spending more time on their VAPD than their body of work. So it’s about ensuring that the students use that as a reflective tool and it’s something to document their process rather than to get lost in it as well.
We use a lot of informal and formal feedback in class time. So we encourage the students to talk to their peers. We also have group discussions as well, so that students are continuing to articulate their concepts. Because when they are talking about their ideas, they’re able to refine it and consider also what might not necessarily work. But it’s also about building up that confidence, so that they feel confident enough to articulate their concepts to their peers and therefore articulate that in their artwork as well.
But we also discuss works with other art teachers or other staff members. So not just in our faculty. We often talk to other staff members outside, including mathematic staff members occasionally, [INAUDIBLE] staff members to get a different point of view from a different reference point. And students complete work not just for the NESA deadline but also for a CAPA showcase where they can gain valuable feedback before their bodies of work are due, so that they can refine them for the NESA deadline as well.
So with Jamie, I directed her to look at a book called The Art of Cardboard where there were amazing cardboard artists that suited her material practice. So she looked in particular detail at Daniel Agdad and Laurence Vallieres because they supported her material and conceptual practice. But she also looked at Leila Jeffreys, who is a photographer specializing in birds, so that she could get some ideas about the poses and stances of the animals that were going to be in her sculptures.
Working with a medium like cardboard over the months, it weakened the structure as well. So then, we were presented with new challenges of ensuring that the sculpture would be able to support the weight of the birds. So then, we had to carefully insert wire and other structures and make them invisible, so that you couldn’t see the fact that there was anything but cardboard in the frame, especially in the days before the work was due as it started to sink.
So we had to ensure that the works were seamless. And that was quite challenging. But through clever use of wire and a few other hidden cardboard, we were able to ensure its survival. But that was definitely a challenge.
I think it’s really important that you know your individual students and how they learn but not just how they learn but what motivates them and what they see as success and inspiration. Because then you’re able to tailor work to suit them but also that you know what they need to be encouraged and motivated when times get a little bit stressful and tough. To encourage experimentation, especially in year 11, not just with concepts but with materials as well, so that they feel confident and comfortable taking those risks when they are in year 12.
We encourage the students to consider what they’re going to work with, so what mediums they’re going to explore and concepts they’re considering exploring in year 11 or early in year 12. So to constantly consider not just what they’re doing now but what they’re planning next as well. And if students are feeling or they’re stagnating on an idea to not stick with it. Don’t get stuck on an idea if it’s not working, to constantly push past and move past and think about other alternatives, so that they don’t stagnate.
We also encourage students to really break down tasks or chunk them into smaller stages that they are achievable and manageable over smaller periods of time. And finally, it’s just about celebrating the small wins. We don’t necessarily just consider the body of work as the final. We consider the small wins throughout the year, so when they’re able to complete one stage or one aspect of their work, and celebrate those wins and achievements.
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Teacher | Dubbo School of Distance Education
[MUSIC PLAYING] TAMARA LAWRY: My name’s Tamara Lawry. I’m a visual arts teacher. I’ve been teaching art for 28 years now. I’ve been here at Distance Education for almost 19 years, and predominantly teaching stage six, so preliminary and visual arts students. I’m very passionate about teaching visual arts, and about engaging students with visual arts practice, introducing them to what it is that an artist does.
Dubbo School of Distance Education takes on students from isolated backgrounds, those that are traveling within Australia and overseas. We have students that are medical enrolments, special circumstances enrolments, students with autism, single-course students. So the students that I’m teaching are from very diverse backgrounds.
They have very different backgrounds in what they know about art. It’s challenging to study in Distance Education and visual arts particularly, as a lot of visual arts teachers would know. It’s lovely to have that student in the classroom every day, where you can actually work with them hands-on.
So we face a lot of challenges where we’re teaching via video conference, telephone lessons, email, satellite. We have online courses that are all actually supported via a regular phone call each week, or regular contact.
Workshops are really important. So students come into workshops if they’re able. But some of them aren’t able to attend because of their enrollment category, so we actually go out and we’ll visit those students. Sometimes, that may be at a center. So I might go to somewhere like Bathurst, and the students will come into the art gallery. So I use art galleries a lot and their workshop spaces.
We also have [INAUDIBLE] camp, too. So we have a residential where the students come in and stay in our hostel, and we’ll have a whole week of art activities. Or we have residentials for just year 11 and 12, so they’ll come in and we have specialized workshops for a full day.
It’s important to show them other forms and other ways of working so that they can then make a more informed decision in year 12 as to what they want to go on to do. So we spent half the premium course on two-day forms, and then we spend the other half on three-day, four-day form options.
So students, I always go out and do an oil painting workshop, because that’s– and you work with what you’ve got. And my area of expertise is in oil painting and working expressively. And I always like to open the students up to understand that we don’t have to be representational and very realistic in the way we work, that drawing and painting is about mark-making. It’s about gesture. It’s about representing yourself, too, and that’s OK.
It’s OK to paint your kitchen sink. It’s OK to paint the corner of a room. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And a lot of post-modern art is about learning from our history. So through our case studies, we develop that understanding of what artists have done over time, and what they’re doing now. And then they’re supposed to apply that to their own art-making practice.
The assessment tasks that I get them to do is to develop three ideas. So a lot of them will come in with one idea or no idea. So even if they have one definite idea, I say, well, what are a couple of variations of that of different ways that you can possibly go?
So by the end of the term or the beginning of their second term into the HSC course, they’ve got three different ideas. And perhaps, and hopefully by then, they’re working solidly towards one of those ideas.
A lot of people don’t like them to change. But I do like them to change, because I think a body of work is about process, and it’s about developing new skills, and learning about what you can do, and what you can’t do, and what you want to do.
With Sebastian, he was working with cartridge paper with, like, just a 2b pencil, so it was quite light. And actually, an H pencil at one stage. So it was really important to introduce him to different types of paper. So we looked at, like, 300 grams hot and cold. We also looked at 600 grams paper. So he ended up drawing on a 600 gram paper.
We also looked at exploring color and mixing color. So rather than using paint straight out of the tube, he was exploring the subtleties of the different colors within his landscape.
So it was really important to show him the quality and the different qualities of pigments that he could get working with watercolors, and then also masking fluid. That was another really important material that he used that helped. Because he was very particular and very fine in the way he uses his pencil.
So he didn’t like working on that rough paper, and he didn’t like working over colored paper, so he had to mask that out. Although you will see in his work, it’s created quite an interesting effect where he’s drawn the tree over the watercolor, as well as the tree that’s not over the watercolor.
Video conference lessons that I had with Sebastian. So we’d spend an hour each week talking about his body of work, and also going through case studies, and scaffolding activities. In distance education, he had his work also online. We used the Google Classroom and I was working with Sebastian, and he submitted his work via email. It was probably the best way. You get more immediate feedback that way.
Workshops, we would have full-day workshops together or maybe two days, when I would go out and visit him. Maybe twice a term would be the time that I spent with Sebastian during workshops. And there were also other students in Leeton. So I had students at St. Francis College and also at Leeton High School in the preliminary course that came to those workshops.
And he enjoyed working with the other students, and the preliminary students learned from watching him work on his task about what they were going to do in the HSC. So it’s nice to be able to bring them together.
In the visual arts process story, Sebastian identified artists that he was interested in, and stuck in pictures of artworks, and also wrote reflections on what it was about those artworks that influenced him. He recorded his ideas. He collected images of photographs from around his property. It’s a working document that is not necessarily meant to be neat, and tidy, and ordered. It’s just it has to have everything there that shows your experimentation, shows your research, shows your ideas and concept development.
And sometimes, that can take this form of a USB. It can take the form of video. It can be a number of paintings that you’ve done. So Seb, actually, had, like, a box of paintings that he’d done that was also submitted with the book. So the VAD is not just– the VAPD is not just a book.
Sebastian found it hard to work regularly in his boarding situation. So he was working at one stage, I think they renovated his dorm, so he didn’t have a big desk space to work on, and couldn’t work on those larger works. So that was where the smaller works in his submission came about, where he had to work on a smaller paper.
And we talked about perhaps submitting a number of smaller works. So he did some beautiful observation drawings of sticks, and twigs, and pine cones, and the ear of a goat and the eye that he worked on while he was unable to work on his larger sheets of paper and to extend his practice.
Assessment is always very important to keep students on task. I think it keeps them on task, and also to create an opportunity for a submission. So a pulling everything together and saying, this is where I’m at, and thinking about the future of where I’m going to.
One of my early tasks is to get students to think about art every day. So even as part of an assessment before I’ve had them contribute, like, they have to make a mark. They have to enter into their diary every day five out of seven days for 10 weeks. So I don’t care if that’s just a quick simple line drawing that may take a minute. They just need to think about art every day.
It could be finding a photograph of– it maybe something they see on TV. It may be a picture they’ve taken, or something they’ve found on Instagram. So it’s about just making an entry every day, and writing about what their idea is for their body of work. And it keeps them on task.
My advice to colleagues is to persevere, to always be there, to always provide positive feedback, and encouragement, and support, especially in the Western region, where we don’t have access to a lot of public art or artists within our environments that you have in more built-up areas like Sydney, or Wollongong, or Newcastle.
And try and get to meet some artists. Bring some artists into the classroom to share their passion about art, to validate that art is important, and art can do a lot for our world.
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Student | Dubbo School of Distance Education (arts) and Yanco Agricultural High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] SEBASTIAN CLARKE: I think year 11 was most useful in determining what I didn’t want to do. Tamara would have quickly realized that I wasn’t interested in working expressively or within pastel, and that I naturally leaned more towards drawing from the start. I think it was useful, however, to try out those other expressive forms. And I was able to take certain skills that were transferable and use them on my body of work. So I think a variety of students that have yet to choose one expressive form or another will find it useful to go through and at least try out and see what they’re good at.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. So it was a sensible choice, in my eyes, to follow down that path. I did have a brief stint working with paint and a mache-type material, neither of which amounted to much. But Tamara and I agreed early on in the piece that whatever I– whatever path I choose to go down should reflect the place where I grew up and the landscape surrounding it.
After deciding that a work set around home was the most logical choice, with the strongest conceptual background, the few paintings that I did do were of the countryside and of rams’ heads, both of which I obviously continued to pursue right until the end of my body of work. Tamara and I spoke of portraits of different animals species and their effect on the land from an agricultural perspective. Tamara had always suggested, though, I attempt a large-scale color work. It was an area that I wasn’t comfortable with, working large scale. I think it’s why I created the smaller panels to accompany the larger work, just to do something that I was more at home with, working on a smaller scale.
The data projector that Tamara provided really saved me some time in the long run, particularly with the positioning and the scaling of the animals on the paper. She also brought me some masking fluid, in which I was able to cover over the finer bits in the– of the work, where I was able to watercolor over the top of that with not too much worry at all. Tamara helped me source some 300- and 600-gram paper, of which I found the hard-pressed paper to be the paper that I like to use.
Experimentation with the watercolor pigments and Winsor & Newton blocks helped to add some much-needed color to my work. You know, in doing that, I was able to fill in large areas of paper pretty quickly. And that saved me a lot of time when it came to the crunch of getting it done, in that I mixed my own and found that subtle and dull colors best suited to what I was trying to achieve, and that it matched the color palette of the land that I was trying to re-create.
The drought really affected how the concept of my work progressed. It became more and more of a focal point as the year went on. And it was interesting, as well, to see how Australia reacted to the drought.
This was when the Buy a Bale program was just starting. And, you know, the dry was– became such a massive focal point in the media as well. So it was a bit of a happy accident that my work became as topical as it did for, you know, a good or bad reason.
My VPAD was crucial in recording, developing, and executing ideas surrounding my body of work. I had photographs of many Australian artists’ artworks that I felt were inspiring, and could look back on them and try and use them to better my own work. It was a tool that allowed me to test materials and techniques before trying to implement them onto my body of work. So I didn’t have to make too many mistakes in that part. And it was great to receive feedback from Tamara, as she was able to look into the book and easily follow my train of thought, and was able to comment them, so that we could achieve the best outcome.
It was right from the word go that I wanted to draw for my body of work. But after attending a field day in Aubrey, I was told that drawing would never get me any high marks. So I ventured down the path of painting for a little while, an area that I didn’t have any immediate talent in. So I’m glad that I stuck to my guns and proved them wrong.
Studying the work of John Wolseley, his practice of looking at the macro and the micro views of the landscape helped me to narrow down what I was aiming to achieve. His botanical studies, and his draftsmanship tell a story of place, such as the ram in my work representing a landowner surveying his land. I also found Joseph McGlennon’s photographs beneficial, seeing a direction that I wanted to pursue, his subject matter being– depicting animals in their natural environments and habitats. And I found that is something that I would like to re-create in my own work.
I’ve always enjoyed making art. And I think some level of interest is fundamental in your ability to stay on track and keep on top of things. You know, assessment tasks and the fear of failing were pretty good spur-alongs in order for me to reach my goals and deadlines.
Visits from my teacher and workshops where you were able to interact with other students in your class were all positive experiences because it’s pretty hard to do it on your own. So if you can get some encouraging words, it’s always a good thing.
In reflection, I think I spent too much trying to use forms that I wasn’t comfortable with. You really need to find out what you’re good at, and just run with it from there. Finding an idea that’s conceptually strong and has a strong connection to the student, I think, is pretty key. You’re going to stay motivated and interested if you like what you’re doing. And most importantly, you’ve just got to start, and don’t stop until it’s done.
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Teacher | Fairvale High School, Fairfield West
SEIKA NOU: Hi, I’m Seika Nou. I work at Fairvale High School in Southwest Sydney. I am a visual arts and photography teacher. We are a school of 1,400 students. We are multicultural, very diverse school. I think it’s really important in year 11 that you develop that rapport, getting ready for their senior year.
So I call our class the art family. So I really develop us to work together. I think that we help each other. I start that off by getting to know the students, who they are, what they are interested in and how I can cater to their needs.
We like to start off with a survey to find out what are they interested in, what do they know? Because some of the students haven’t come from the elective year 9 and 10 classes. So finding out what do they know, what are their strengths, their weaknesses?
So I think it’s very important in year 11 that we’re continuing to talk about the content areas. So referencing the syllabus. So the three main content areas– conceptual framework, the frames, and practice. So we show them that through different artist case studies, we are exploring those content areas.
And then we’re implementing it to their own art practice. And we constantly refer to it. So as the artist, you’re creating an artwork. What do you want your audience to see? How are you going to do that? So referring to the ideas and actions. So it’s this big link to the syllabus continually throughout their own art practice.
Our teacher feedback is through our formal assessment task but also one-on-one. It happens organically throughout the lesson. I make that effort to always constantly see the student, give them that verbal feedback, write it down with them in their VAPD, so their Visual Arts Process Diary.
We’re so lucky to have a visual arts syllabus that allows us to be flexible. So we work within those content areas, the outcomes, but we’re also able to cater to our student needs. So once we do our survey with year 11, we find out what are they good at? And we pick and choose and go, OK, this is the assessment task that’s going to work for them.
Once we go through that assessment task, we’re able to go, OK, this student’s really good at this material practice, and we are able to do that through the syllabus. So catering to what they like, what they’re good at. And also, for the year 11, the first assessment task, we allow the students to explore all the different techniques. So from photography, painting, printmaking. So everyone explores all of those different practices.
The next assessment task, we allow them to be a little bit more fluid and pick what they are good at. And this allowed us to bring in an artist. So Linda Bowden came and worked with our students. They were given a concept and one particular material practice. And then they could explore their own practice.
Our class is constructed so we have we have three double periods of visual arts a week. One double period for theory and then two double periods for practical. Depends on what’s due. So there’s a theory assessment coming up, we might up the theory double periods. We’re still staying within the syllabus requirements. Just it’s a little bit more flexible for us.
One of the things I like to do is start off our lessons, particularly for our practical lessons, with everyone come to the middle table. We’re going to have our art family meeting. That’s where I tell them what are the lesson goals, our intentions. We discuss.
We go through and talk about what do those particular students need to do. I also like to team up students who had their strengths to help with someone else who might need a little bit more help. It’s also a time where they have the opportunity to reflect. Well, what do I need to do?
This art family is so important to me, because I think in year 12, it’s really important students help each other. So we actually could take each other’s work. Especially when I’m stuck with a student on a body of work, I like to take out the body of work, call for an art family meeting and go, OK. This is the work. What can you say as the audience?
And then I want you to tell the artist, I wonder if you could change or what could you do? So we’re helping each other constantly. So I really think cultivating that family is really important in the classroom.
They find different visual stimuli. That goes all into the Visual Arts Process Diary. They write about it, they reflect, and then they can start experimenting. So all the material practices document into the VAPD. It’s also this resource, so when we get stuck on an idea, we always go back to there. Go, let’s go back to your Visual Arts Diary. What did you research? What other stimuli can we look back at? What can help you? So it’s something to record what they’re doing. And also this tool that can help when times get a little bit tricky.
I work in a really collegial and collaborative visual arts faculty. So whenever I get stuck, I go to them. And they’re always constantly thinking about my students and all our students’ artwork. So we always have a professional dialogue about different artists, artworks, to help our students body of works.
We also have our visual arts HSC exhibition week 4 of term 3. So the whole school community are able to see the students’ artworks. Parents are able to have a visit. And it’s really nice for the students, because they help set up the exhibition.
So there’s this ownership and proudness that they have– pride that they have for their own work. And to have feedback from people who haven’t seen their work for a whole year is a great experience for them.
At the beginning of year 12, we introduce the body of work by going back to the visual arts syllabus. So stage 6 syllabus. We go back to that document. We go as a class thoroughly. What is year 12 about? So we look at again the content areas. We’re looking at the case studies, implementing the content areas to that bit, also the student’s art-making practice in relation to the content areas.
We then get our students to reflect and think about what they’ve done previously in year 9, year 10, and year 11. What were their strengths, and what were they interested in? From there, we start brainstorming. We think about what they’ve done previously. We think about what they are interested in. And then we also give them a little topic that I learned from a visual arts TPL with Janet Rentz. It was called On The Edge.
So that’s a little topic that we give them, and we do a little art-making activity in the class. So the topic is On The Edge. They get all these materials, and they have a double period to start making. So that gets them going, and then they can go, OK. Well, I actually really like this. So some students might continue with that or they might go back to what they’re good at or explore a new interest.
Through the development of the body of work at the beginning, once the student starts researching, there’s a lot of one-on-one interviews. So sitting down with the student, going back, reflecting together. What do you like? What’s your strengths? What do you want to explore?
And reminding them, this is a year. They’re working on this for a year. So what’s something that they continue on and can continue doing for the whole year? So we start off with that. Oh, then it’s a lot of research from there end. I start also researching too and go, OK, well I think this– have a look at this artist. Have a look at this person. And then we go from there.
Artists that I’ve referred to within year 11 and year 12, particularly for year 12, are usually a lot of contemporary artists. They’re artists that I like. So I like to refer, and then I think that’s the connection that I have with the students. One of my favorite artists is Ai Weiwei. Grateful concepts. Because he is a very conceptual artist. So I refer to him about his ideas and how he creates layers of meaning in his work.
I think it’s really important to reference back to the modern artist. So we go back to Picasso. We go to Magritte. We go to Barbara Kruger. I like to always go back to books with all our different modern artists. I think that’s a great starting point.
In reference to Jane’s deceased estate, we looked at more contemporary artists such as Uta Barth for her concept and the aesthetic. We looked at Rob Dobie for the way he composes his photographs. We also looked at Trent Parke and the atmosphere that he was capturing within his photographs.
My advice is during year 11 and 12, really develop with your students the relationship to the content areas where they aren’t making practice. So talk about them as the artist. You’re the artist. You’re creating this artwork.
Which frame are we looking through? So what perspective is this artwork seen through? How do you want your audience to see? What are your ideas? What are your actions? How do they link together? So that constant reference to the syllabus is really important.
I think it’s really important that you connect to the students. So build that rapport in year 11, but have the students connect with each other too. Because they help each other. They are the audience in that room that you can instantly have to your artworks. Keeping up the energy. It is so exhausting, yet it is so rewarding. The energy to keep the students motivated, to keep your class as an art family, it’s a lot of energy. But it gets so rewarding at the end.
I actually create my own body of work. So on the board, I’d be like so my idea– as the artist, this is my idea. This is my artwork. This is how I want my audience to see and react and respond to my work. And this is my world. So I do a lot of scaffolding within year 11. And they see how I would do it, and I think it helps them say, OK. This is how she’s doing it. How can I also do it to?
I want to highlight my really deep connection to the visual arts. It’s my passion. And I think that creates the momentum in my classroom. I have students who sometimes are really unmotivated, but because I keep persisting, and I keep just bringing it into the classroom constantly, they become immersed in it too.
And it’s beautiful when they go to me, oh my god, miss. Do you know when Ai Weiwei did this? Because they know I love Ai Weiwei. Or when they go, look at this artists, and they keep sending me things. That’s really– you know you’ve connected to the students, and they’re in that art world.
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Student | Fairvale High School, Fairfield West
[MUSIC PLAYING] JANE ASHER: I’m Jane Asher. I created Deceased Estate. And it’s in the format of documented form. In year 11, one of the biggest things I did was I just took note of the trends in my bodies of work, and what I enjoyed most about them. So I think in a lot of the works I would make that I would really be the most proud of, they had this kind of moodier, darker element to them. And they had a bit of a dramatic flair to them as well.
So I guess, to put it simply, it was a dark elegance, you could say, which I think can see a lot in the Deceased Estate. It does, especially in the book, it has– I mean, the whole thing is definitely very moody. But the book itself definitely has this theme of an elegance going through in the chandelier, and the flowers, and everything like that.
In still life, I guess you have a lot of time to put into your work. It’s not like with a sitter. You have to consider how much time they have to be with you. You can sit with an object for hours. It’s not going to complain. And if you have just a set with some objects, you have so much control to make whatever shot you want.
In my initial stages, it was a little bit of a mess. I remember I really liked the idea of, I guess, really immersing the audience into the body of work. And I really wanted to immerse them both through a little intimate form, and then a bigger form– just so you can have that kind of dichotomy between being drawn in through something small and then being drawn in through something big. So I remember the book was something that I always wanted.
I remember at the beginning, though, I had this idea where I was going to project a photo of the room up on a big wall. And then that was going to be, I guess, what drew the audience in– would be that they had to literally experience the place through this projection. We had this idea of doing like a Jeannie Baker Window– which, oh my goodness, the stress that it gave me. I do not do crafts. I’m a photographer. I cannot do painting, crafts, or anything. So to see Jeannie Baker was just insane to me. I loved the idea of just that window, and really like transforming yourself, and transporting yourself to the house, and into that location– which I think with the video is what we eventually accomplished, with the ASMR aspect of it and everything. Yeah.
Over time, we began to again realize that the strength of the house really lay within the walls of the house. It had such a rich history with my family, and just, I guess, everything still contained in the house. The thing that really I guess kicks people about the house is that it’s so abandoned. Yet when you walk in, you notice all these like little objects left behind that really just tell you everything about the people that used to live there.
I think using a video, that worked off my strengths in photography because with cinematography, it’s very, very similar to the art of photography and everything. So it wasn’t like me doing a Jeannie Baker craft or anything. And then doing the ASMR aspect and audio of that video is, again, what really immerses the audience into the I guess experience of the video and the book, which is what I wanted to do with the projection. So I guess in the end, I really got everything I wanted, just in a different form.
What really helped me with my visual arts process diary is I used it, I guess, as a dumping ground for just my ideas and thoughts that would just come to me so randomly. And a lot of the times these I guess ideas, they weren’t good at all. I didn’t think they were great ideas. I thought they were quite naive sometimes, or quite underdeveloped. But the thing that made them so great was that I used them as stepping stones to, I guess, get to better ideas and better concepts. Then eventually, that is what created the whole body of work because these small silly ideas that had just kind of spiraled into greater concepts.
A lot of the times in my backward, I would Pinterest boards of the inspired artists. Like Uta Barth, I would make a whole page of just her photos. But I would analyze each and every single one of them like I was analyzing, I guess, a exam photo. So doing that, it helped me really discover what about each of these artists I liked, and what I could incorporate into my own body of work, which I feel like a lot of people– they get their inspired artists, but they don’t take anything from them. They just kind of see them, and they’re like, I want it to look like that. But then they don’t really take those steps to analyze it, and then discover how they can incorporate it into their body of work, which is what my backward helped me so much with, just having it.
I think one of the greatest challenges was the video itself. After we kind of came to the conclusion that we should make this second part of the body of work– a video that in itself is a challenge. But doing the actual video itself because I had no experience with cinematography, directing, editing, or I guess even composing a video. I was really at a loss for how I could work with that. I had to research a lot of it all on my own. So I had to research how the cameras worked. How to make compositions. How to create dolly systems on your own. Because with cameras, a lot of times people don’t realize, but you have these frames per second that if your camera can’t have a high frame rate per second, then you have to create these big dolly systems just to keep the shots still from moving so much.
Because of I guess my affinity for photography, we always knew that we wanted to do something with photography. But I always knew that I wanted to do something that really immersed the audience, and really made it an experience for them, much like an installation. So I guess combining those two factors, it was very easy to land on documented forms.
At the forefront, I think Rob Dobi is probably one of the biggest inspirations to this body of work. I do love Uta Barth so much, but I feel like for the purposes of this work, Rob Dobi just played such an important role. Just in the way that he– he also does like abandoned places and things like that. Just the way that he composes his images. He has a background I think in design somewhere, like commercial design. So he sets up his images very cleanly in such a, I guess dirty place, like an abandoned warehouse, or something like that. And he can just go to these places, find objects there, and create a whole narrative and meaning about them that reflects that place.
Additionally, Uta Barth was crazy inspiring to me. She has this ability to transform some of the most simplest mundane subjects into such incredible meaningful works. Lastly, Trent Park has this really creepy uncanny ability to make his images so eerie. He takes these really simple images of, say, a person on a street corner. And he just makes them so eerie. Even if they’re in the middle of the day, he can just– he makes– I don’t know. There’s just something about his images that they really unsettle you when you look at them.
And I liked that quality just because the place of my grandparents’ house. Because it’s abandoned, at night, it becomes this really eerie creepy place. And I wanted to really capture that in the video just so it would be such a shock going from the dark elegance of the book to this really Trent Park-y eerie quality in the video, which is like just so empty.
First and foremost, I think the most useful thing that I ever learned in doing this whole experience was never to compare your process to that of others. Because I remember in the beginning of the year, I was going so slow just because we were trying to kind of figure out how we were going to exhibit it. We didn’t really have that second element of the video fully envisioned yet. So on the artwork was very slow up until about term two. And then that’s when everything started picking up. And so in doing that, and seeing I guess the success that I had even when comparing my experiences to that of my classmates– you don’t have to compare yourself to others.
Lastly, listen to your teachers. There are, of course, going to be moments that you have to kind of trust yourself and again, believe in yourself so you don’t compare yourself to others. But your teachers, for the most part, know what they’re doing. And they can see your work from a different angle that you really may lose sight of. And I remember throughout high school, I did find it really difficult to listen to my teachers. I would of course take them on board a lot of times. But there would be certain points that I would just be so stubborn, and I would fight them so hard on it.
And I remember at the end of year 11, I had my teachers and my mom, and so many people telling me your biggest problem is that you’re not listening to teachers. And you really have to put so much more trust in them. So for year 12, that’s like exactly what I did. And it paid off incredibly.
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Teacher | Kooringal High School, Wagga Wagga
BERNADETTE KENNEDY: My name’s Bernadette Kennedy. And I’m an arts teacher at Kooringal High School, which is in Wagga Wagga. So Kooringal High School is a pretty comprehensive high school. We are in the southern suburbs of Wagga Wagga. So we have students who are zoned to our entire area.
We have many different streams. So we do have a gifted and talented stream. We have quite a large support unit, which is fantastic. Our junior years at Kooringal High are very much so geared towards allowing the students to build a tool belt of skills. We give them lots of different experiences.
The VAPD is something which we call compulsory. But really, it’s an opportunity to allow students to relate to themselves while they’re developing. If you’re working on a body of work, then it’s important that it starts as a concept and has the room to grow throughout the period of time that they’re interacting with it. It is a real conscious effort for students to make, which sometimes they’re not so naturally connected to, that you should research to ensure that you are discovering more knowledge as you go and that you’re trying and you’re comfortable with failing sometimes and really making sure that you are pushing your techniques and your skills and the relevance and your understanding of the world of the work that you’re creating rather than just the individual work itself.
It can be a difficult thing to do to encourage students to regularly use their diaries. We try to make it something which is accessed in class on a regular basis, so that there is not that extra time at home. Particularly when students have so much going on outside of school before, we do want the connection with that diary to feel like an opportunity and to feel natural and like something that is helping rather than something they feel obliged to do.
It’s an interesting thing that the body of work is such a long term commitment at a really high intensity, stressful time of the students’ lives. And we know through study that people function most effectively when they’re not stressed and when they are comfortable and they are expressive and connected. So we have a goal here, which is to minimize the stress placed on the dates that the artwork is due. And we try to focus instead on what is and what the next few steps are and how that connects to the students’ goals and make sure that they’re still feeling comfortable with what they are completing at the time rather than feeling paralyzed by the time limits which are set on them.
Art’s one of the more difficult subjects to mark because so much of it is qualitative rather than quantitative. We do try to break apart the skills that we are dealing with with students, so that it’s easier to provide really explicit feedback for them in a formative way and on an ongoing basis. There is always your overarching goal. But we do break those skills apart part by part, so that we can provide feedback that the students can really break down and digest.
You need to have your plan ready but also know that you will need to respond as things change on a day to day basis inside their mind and with things coming out differently than how they expected. So I suppose the only advice that I could really provide is to make sure that you’re there and present and able to respond to those students and best support what they need at that given time, and know that no matter what happens, everything is going to be OK. So just focus on what you do have and the positives and the next few steps.
As we do have such a diverse body of students, we do really try to support their individuality through their work. And Hannah herself chose to explore her sensory processing disorder within her work. And that work resonates her different battles through the use of monochrome because that’s the easiest medium for her to actually process as well as one that she prefers to work with as a really expressive kind of medium.
You can see in her works, it’s absolutely palpable. And she has really put her own heart into the work and tried to give an insight into her own life experience and perception of what’s going around her. And we all felt really privileged for her to share that with us in a way that helps us to a little understand her just a little bit better.
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Teacher | Maitland Grossmann High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] RICHARD FLETCHER: So I’m at Maitland Grossmann High School, which is in Maitland. It’s a large comprehensive high school. And visual arts is a very popular subject at the school, and we’ve had great success with the students. In the school, we have a process in the faculty whereas teachers are in rotation with Year 11 and 12. So we tend to have a teacher working in the senior area for Year 11 following through to Year 12, and then rotating that every second year.
We definitely build a lot around technique to start off with. And so Year 11 is a lot about developing those skills and refining skills that they may already have. And we work through processes, quite traditional processes. We do oil painting and quite technical drawings, sculptural practices. And we try to find contemporary versions of those to balance that out, so they’re not just traditional practice.
And then we try to get the students to build their ideas around what their skill set is. So when they’re actually coming to that idea of how am I going to explore a body of work, they really have to refine the idea. So they really have to have almost a word or a very short concept that we can keep coming back to. So when they’re making a work, they’re coming back to that idea of what’s the original idea or point because I’m starting to get lost with what you’re doing.
Belle was a very independent student and had really great, almost graphic skills. And she’s worked in comic and other anime-type imagery. But her painting and realistic drawing skills were very well developed.
And so we went back and looked at what areas were her greatest successes. And she had done some very beautiful work, layering glazes in her oil paintings for the still life work that– unit that we used to– we run in Year 11. And she was able to then incorporate that as a concept because she was talking about layers.
So she was talking about her personality, and she was talking about how people perceive her, and how she’s stereotyped as being a sporty kid. And so it was about not just painting an image of her friend’s clothing and how people present themselves. But there’s a lot of layering in the paint.
So students often struggle with the idea of starting. So I try to break that down and just get them to work on something that they’re comfortable with, something smaller. They often feel like, I’m starting my artwork. This is the HSC. It’s got to be finished.
And rather than taking the work through certain stages and refining, they want to make the object, and make it finished to start off with. So we try to get them to work maybe with a body of work idea around a collection of works. Why don’t you try this idea as a painting, as a photograph?
Maybe explore it as a sculpture, and then see where they feel that’s going to go. It may be that they’re very confident and want to work in a collection of works. Or they may find that there’s an element about sculptural practice that they really have sustained, and they really are able to build that strength.
I’ve been in many classes over the years. And they get to the end. And the students go, what did I even make? You’ve been in the classroom all year with them. What are you going to– have you not noticed what somebody else is doing?
So we actually have formalized that. So in that formalizing, we have this panel where the students are able to then offer suggestions. So they often come to class and say, hey, I went to an exhibition, or I was in the shops, and I saw this thing that relates to your work. And it’s really similar, so maybe you want to look at that. So kids sharing ideas is really important, too, and then that helps them to sort of strengthen and become confident.
They also have to bring their work to me for discussion, where we actually put it up. And we walk away from the work. And we have a sit-down and say, well, when you stand back and look at it, what do you see?
So too often, the students are working very heavily over the top of a work. And they’re not actually seeing it as it’s going to be presented or marked. So they’re not seeing it as a finished product. They’re seeing it in isolation. And they’re thinking that it’s going to be judged in this way, and it’s not really the case.
So we need to see it up. We need to have a step back from it. And we need to see whether it clearly links back to their original idea.
The theory lessons are about analyzing and building capacity in the writing. And it’s very formal, so we actually are sitting in a one-and-a-half-hour exam. And many students will say, that was very intense.
So a lot of their other subjects have multiple choice. And in visual arts, you don’t have that option. You have to make a response. And you have to engage with the imagery.
So we practice a lot of [INAUDIBLE] issues. And then we also practice with the essay extended responses and building and crafting an essay response, not a prepared response– lots of different questions. With the practical lessons, we try to make those later in the day so that there is a chance that students can stay back after school and work through till 5 o’clock. They certainly can work through lunch periods.
So it’s really important that students understand that there is a finite amount of time, and that we like to put the emphasis on completing as much of the work by the end of term two. That allows us to refine and build ideas about presentation, and extra layers of meaning in that short amount of time, and for the usually very stressful period of term three.
In Belle’s body of work, she was exploring quite a personal and a very original concept. And we hadn’t really discovered any artists that led to that. But as her work progressed, we were refining her painting technique. And she went back to the Dutch still-life painters, and looked at the layering and the glazing that was in their work that she had already expressed through a work in Year 11 and was really successful. So that was one of the areas that she built depth to her work.
We then looked at the use of text. And she incorporated a small amount of text on one of the books that was laser cut. So she worked with Vernon Ah Kee and looked at how he had used language. It was in a very postmodern and ironic way.
She was using text to communicate an idea. So that was one of the other links. Also, in the final presentation of her work, looking at the idea of tarot cards, we explored the work of Niki de Saint Phalle, and looked at her tarot cards, and how that idea of building this big landscape around the figures adds sculptural elements, but then trying to contain it. So we certainly looked at museology artists, who look at curatorial practices, and really refining how that would look for the audience coming through, and then being able to investigative a work.
So there were a range of artists. For all students, we try to tailor the selection of artists so that we are giving them a broader understanding of ideas, material, practices, choices, things that are quite contemporary, things that are quite formal, and then try to see how they might explore those within their own concept or work.
I think initially, students feel like whatever they make is actually it. And in the initial stages, they really just need to work through ideas, and explore, and refine. If it’s unsuccessful, you have an opportunity to– you have nine months. You have plenty of time to go back and explore that further. If it isn’t working for you, then you’ve got time to change.
But you don’t want to leave, I’m putting off the idea of starting. I’m just going to play in my diary until I feel confident to start making it work. You actually need to get in there and give it a go.
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Student | Maitland Grossmann High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] BELLE LEONARD: My name is Belle. I’m 18. I live in Maitland. I went to Maitland Grossman High School. And my body of work was the reading, which was a collection of works around the idea of self image for teens and just the way that you perceive yourself versus how you actually are.
It was very useful. Because even before year 11 as well, I did the visual arts courses before that. So really, whatever you can get before going into HSC, grab it, take it. Take it in because you never know what you’ll want to do. Do all of the things that your teacher gives you. Whether you might not want to do drawing or charcoal works or lino print but do it. Because you get into it and you might find that, at first, you might not like it, but you’ll find that you are quite good at it.
Well, it did change. That’s like it will always change. My initial idea is I wanted, well, at first, because I’m indigenous from my dad’s from Northern Queensland sort of area, so I thought maybe something about that because as half white Australian and indigenous, I thought maybe something about that. But then I thought that doing something that was just about myself and my own personal journey in this sort of stage wasn’t as impactful because it didn’t really reach to a broader audience. People couldn’t look at it and sort of say, oh, I relate to that. Only sort of a few people would probably be able to. So I thought, try to broaden it and do something that everyone can sort of feel a bit more.
My visual arts diary was it was helpful. You need it. When at the start, it was great. Before getting into the practical, like actually doing the artwork, it was great to just sit it out and just go for it, right? Whatever idea came to your head, if you were just sitting somewhere, just have it near you, so whenever you thought of anything, I could just write it down no matter how silly it was.
It was also great for when I’m researching artists beforehand and sort of styles that I like and anything. So I could sort of print off things, stick it in. Just go crazy with mind maps and brainstorming. It’s a mess, if you look at mine.
In the initial stages, it was hard to get people who were willing enough to be photographed for my artwork. It was a lot for people because the artwork was about their identity and about their personal issues. I was lucky enough to actually get enough people for it. There were a lot of people that once they found out what I was doing, they sort of said, no, thank you. Some people were just too awkward to go in on the day. Some people just didn’t turn up. But thank you to the people who did.
After that, the actual doing the artwork, the painting, that was tricky because I wasn’t necessarily– I hadn’t done much oil painting really before that other than sort of small things in class. But I knew I could sort of figure it out. And I thought, I will be able to do this for my work.
There were just stages where it was I’m painting and oil painting just didn’t work and things were just getting frustrating. So I didn’t know how to work it because I was still in a learning stage of it. So talking to my teacher really helped overcome those challenges because he knows so much about anything and everything.
So family helped as well. It was good to have a refreshing you think, oh, my mom and that one. No. They kind of don’t. But it’s good to talk to someone who has a fresh perspective because they just go for it and let you know anything. So it’s, yeah, just get as many perspectives and that really helped.
I did not want to do collection of works. I wanted to do just painting. I just wanted to get the books that I was doing it on. I knew I wanted to do some of the books. But I thought, I just have the books, have the painting on the books. That should be good enough.
And that changed drastically when my teacher was just he said, step back. Have a look. Do you think people would understand that if they weren’t you and you didn’t tell them? And I thought, yeah. There’s not enough behind it to back it up. So that really helped, especially with the continuing metaphor of the work which was, don’t judge a book by its cover. So there were so many symbols in the end that just had to be there to really push the message. So I’m not at all angry that I didn’t end up just doing the paintings. I’m glad I did because it really pushed through my ideas.
Michael Zavros, I really loved his work. He was really good. I mean, obviously, I wasn’t going to be able to achieve the photo realism that he was. But he was amazing. And just sort of the vanity, the idea of vanity that he sort of conveys in his work, and different perspectives like see something from another way.
I found Lin Onus in the beginning. My teacher actually introduced it to me. Like it’s great. It’s the whole you see stand back, and the first thing you see is just an image with just a reflection of water and some leaves and stuff. And when you look into more, in all of his works, you look a bit more, you stand there and come to learn and study it and sort of spend more time with the artwork, you see that there’s the indigenous fishes and birds and lizards and whatnot all through it. So Lin Onus was really cool as well with pushing the idea of spend time and get to know things before you judge it, so I really love that. He’s great. And also indigenous artist was just a big plus as well.
Students going into HSC or who are not far off, and you’re deciding what to do, come up with your ideas. Write them out. As soon as possible, come up and start thinking of ideas as soon as you can. Even before if you know you’re doing HSC visual arts, get started on some ideas. And as soon as you think of a good idea, stick with it.
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Teacher | Mosman High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] FIONA ACKERMAN: My name is Fiona Ackerman. I’m head teacher of visual arts at Mosman High School. We have approximately 1,200 students.
We have five art teachers, ranging from very experienced to a graduate. And so we have a full range of art teachers at the school. We have five art rooms in our wonderful art block, which is over 100 years old. And it’s a lovely place to work.
We have a large cohort. We have 42 students in this year’s Year 12. So it’s wonderful, yeah. Three Year 11 classes, two Year 10, a Year 9. We have photography and the General Experience Years 7 and 8 courses.
We start with a strong artist’s practice, and theory, and critical-study component of the visual arts. And that is very much integrated into the practical components as well. So for an example, in Year 11, we might have an architecture unit of work.
And so we might take the students on a site experience. We might go to Cockatoo Island or The Rocks. And that there will be a research base for the practical units of work.
And then we also study, so it’s integrated with the architecture. So we might study the built environment. We might go through chronological order of the Parthenon, the Colosseum, Frank Lloyd Wright, look at architects as well as architecture, contemporary Australian architects, European architects, Eastern architects as well, and look at the painting or other forms of the built environment. Jeffrey Smart, we might look at Brett Whiteley. And so the whole area, just for one unit of work, might be a combination of both the critical and historical layering of thinking there, with the practical components as well.
The introduction of the body of work into Year 12, again, we start with artists’ practice. The students select an artwork from the modernist period. An artwork– and it might be the subject. It might be the material practice of the work.
And they use that as a starting point to then move their one chosen piece of art or artwork. And they build upon a theme. And that could be then from one artwork, and choosing another four artists to build up a theme for a written task.
That there, from there, we have a body of work start-up kit. And we have over 10 pages in their process diary. They start to look at brainstorming a subject matter and artists. And they start to put that into their process diary.
We keep it very open at the early stages and narrow towards the end of the body of work. We just try and open up the conversation with the students and keep the body of work broad. You may have a theme or an idea, but keep it broad, because there’s always time later on to narrow. You don’t want to shut down the body of work too early, and be too precise, and know exactly what you’re doing, because that then can shut down the expression. You keep on finding new ideas, new artists to build upon.
We engage with each individual student. We start with the body of work start-up kit and the written work. We wander around. We go to each student. It’s one on one.
We follow a project, a practical project form. We take notes as we talk to the students. We’re always looking out for new ideas, or more ideas, more artists for each of the students.
We do have five art teachers here at the school. So we use all of their expertise. And we always state to the students to see all of the teachers.
Just because I’m teaching you doesn’t mean that you have to stay with me. Get ideas from other teachers, vice versa. We do have three Year 12 classes. And so we’re very much a open-door policy, where the students work in– on their practical work out in the corridors during study periods or in the classroom.
We negotiate this with the students at the start of the year. We have a look at our timetable. We have a look at our working periods within the two-week structure of our timetable.
We might have a Theory Thursday or a Theory Tuesday. And that is something which stays with the students over the 12 months. And it gives the students reassurance. And they remember Theory Tuesday, Theory Tuesday. We have Theory Tuesday today.
And then the other periods will be the practical, the art-making, the body of work. And so it gives students structure of knowing when they have their lessons and what they can do. If there’s any assessment tasks due, it’s always up on the board.
If the students need to see us, we write their name, or they write their names up on the board. We know who to see at a particular time, who’s requiring help and support. So it is structured in that regard, where this is what we’re doing. This is where we’re up to. This is where we need to head to.
We work backwards from due dates. And so you keep the students really in line with that, the body of work. And so the works are finished on time.
We start the visual arts process diary through the junior years and into the senior years as well. We start with a process diary assessment task in Year 12, where the students must document over 10 or more pages in their process diary. And we give them set guidelines to work.
And it gives them– it’s not a precious document. We don’t want it to be precious. We want them to annotate whether they have their drawings, their– they’ve been to exhibitions, they’ve been to galleries.
They paste things in. They start to annotate around them. We start to work through. We start to see their ideas. We can have a look at the process diary and see how they’re working.
For complex challenges, at the beginning of Year 11, we have a survival guide, which we distribute to all of Year 11 and 12. Within that survival guide, it talks about the curriculum for the preliminary and the HSC course. It talks about– or within that, we have components of the syllabus, about limitations, restrictions, dangerous materials, subject matter that might be not G-rated or PG-rated.
We try and be open right from the get-go, from the start. You don’t want to have these difficult conversations later on if you haven’t provided that information to the students early on. So within the survival guide, we have a lot of syllabus components, marking guidelines, the art-making practice, the frames, the conceptual framework, the HSC examination, the way it’s being put together.
We try and state that this is a school-based artwork. It’s part of your HSC. The practical component is 50% of your mark. Because it is a school-based work, your audience is going to be students, parents, the local community. If you would like it hung on the wall, or if you would like it to maybe eventually get to ARTEXPRESS, these things must be taken into consideration, because they will not be shown if there is anything that’s going to be a little bit difficult for the general public and for the school audience to view.
One thing, mainly, is we do have a HSC practical marking day for teachers to go and view the process of marking the bodies of work at Homebush. I think for all teachers within the visual arts, that’s a wonderful way to help you. It’s a professional development. It’s probably the best professional development that you can get.
Subscriptions, online forums within the visual arts, VADEA is another one. There are a lot of art teachers, New South Wales art teachers, that require support. And there’s lovely online forums for those teachers to post and ask for guidance and assistance.
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Student | Mosman High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] ALEXIS POTTS: My name is Lexi Potts. My series of photography was Exsaturated Deutan, which Exsaturated was exaggerated saturation. And Deutan is my kind of color-blindness. I’m red-green colorblind, and deutan is the name of that kind of color blindness. And so that was the whole concept of my photography series was my personal experience with my color blindness, and showing that in my work to people who aren’t colorblind, and just showing that there is really no difference. We all see differently.
The main thing was I knew my style of photography already. I knew I love to have lots of color, lots of props and costumes. I’ve done that a lot in my free time for five years. And so the big thing was how do I make a concept that helps show my style and have the style help my concept. And I really wanted to have a personal concept to myself. So my colorblindness really helped with that and linked the two together. It was a lot about the process of elimination. I’d get very excited, always seeking inspiration all the time, going to galleries, looking at different artists. There’d be moments of having a crazy idea, and I’d write it down. But process of elimination thinking– does this idea help with my concept? Does it help with the practice, or does it distract from it and not strengthen the concept? So through the whole journey of the major work, I would put any idea I had in my art diary, and look at it, and see would it help prove what I was trying to set out to do.
My biggest challenge was I had four major works. So the biggest thing was costs and expenses of my project and how did I want my crazy ideas to become possible with trying to get the products, the price of everything. So there were times of I did paper mache, so I went to the news agency across the road from school, and got stacks of old newspapers that they weren’t using, and went on Facebook around the community, asking to borrow flower vases from people, and using those as props. And seeing anything I could that was free, just not being afraid to ask for help. And yeah, that was one of the struggles, but it was really satisfying figuring it out and making it work.
I had a studio space I rented out for my photo shoot. And mentioning to people I was a year 12 student, and I’m doing a major work. They really understood the importance of helping out with that. The studio I had given my proposal to gave me a discount as being a student. It was always photography. It was always that. It’s always been my strongest point. But I used that to my advantage by doing the paper mache in some of my props. I did woodwork by making the clothing line. That was one of my props in my shoots. And doing lots of spray paint. And because I didn’t do any of the photography at school, I used that time to make those props and make my set design stronger and more powerful.
I accessed artists such as Cindy Sherman. She does a lot of photography that relates to clowns. And that was a big concept I was using to explain to people what I wanted my shoots to look like, saying that a lot of people have fears of clowns. And my colorblindness is kind of like that same fear and anxiety over something that’s quite silly. Like clowns are supposed to be something that are entertaining and funny, but it’s that painted smile on their face where you don’t know how they feel that scares people. And for me, that’s color, where I can look at a color and convince myself that’s one color, but then I’m like, no, it’s this. No, it’s that. So there’s that little bit of anxiety through color blindness that I love the whole idea of theatrical clowns and this and that. But I was showing that with my color blindness by using performance artists, and people seen as clowns, and very theatrical to embrace my color blindness. And another artist was Tracy Moffatt. I just love her set design and used that as inspiration as well.
It was really important for me to have feedback with my teachers constantly and sharing my ideas. It was very helpful to have that brainstorming out loud talking to other people. Because it really helped structure my ideas and try and make it more coherent. I really wanted to take advantage of the people who were there to help me. And I had even emailed the MCA and mentioned that I was a year 12 student, and I really wanted my artwork to seem as professional as it could be. And the lead in artist education sat down with me for half an hour, and looked at my sketchbook, and was very open to help giving me advice, and gave me advice I never really thought I’d be asking for. But it really helped in the end.
My advice would be have a concept that’s really personal to you or have something that you really connect with. Because with that, you’ll know once you’ve done it right. And you know once you’re complete, because it will feel right. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is your time to have something that feels bigger than yourself and a big project you can be very proud of. In my whole photography series, there were four different scenes, different set designs. And there is four large images in the printed series and three smaller photos of each of those scenes scattered throughout the layout of the series. And the four large prints are the original coloring of the scenes, and the smaller prints are different scenarios within the scene color-manipulated.
And so when the audience looks at the photos, they can see the differences in coloring throughout the series, and then wonder which one is the correct coloring, and that there is no right to it. We all see differently. I’m just an extreme outlier with my color blindness that I can get the colors confused. And so that gave me control of me knowing better about the coloring than the audience does, even not being color blind. So embracing something that people would usually ask, why would I use so much color, being a color-blind artist, and instead just embracing color and taking control. A lot of my time after HSC has been a lot of freelancing with my photography, and figuring out how to use my creative side also with my work, and using that as a strong point in my photography. I do a lot of performance artist photography and capturing those moments of what other creatives are showing within their scenes, and their performances, and trying to capture those moments they want. And yeah, just embracing the creative community, having my studio in Marrickville, and just getting into it, yeah.
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Teacher | St Ives High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] PATRICIA GETTENS: I’m Patricia Gettens, and I’m the head teacher of creative arts at St Ives High School. We’re a coeducational high school on Sydney’s North Shore. It’s a lovely location. We have around a thousand students. And in my faculty, there are four art teachers, and we also look after the music and drama.
Year 11, I think it’s really important to– a couple of things– for them to learn about the possibilities of expressive forms, and also to bond together as a cohort, because the support through year 11 and 12 is really important to develop a range of ideas. So we start with some immersive work. We go away for three days, somewhere like London, or we actually tailor our own art camps.
So we might go to the Brett White Gallery and draw. We might do a printmaking workshop or a sculpture workshop to expose them to new ideas so that they can work comfortably together, learn to talk to each other, learn to discuss ideas, so that they’re really open to all the possibilities that are available to them.
Right through the stage four and stage five, they’re used to the term, body of work. And then as they go into year 11, of course, we give them the sort of HSC kit, where they’re exposed to all of the rules and regulations how a body of work can be, that it can be a single work or a series of works.
It can be across one expressive form or become a collection of works. So they’re given a lot of information in year 11 right at the start of their course so that they’re not restricted by thinking, it has to be a painting. It has to be a drawing.
As far as getting to know individual students, it is really important. We’re very lucky because we often have known the students through their junior years. But sometimes, they haven’t chosen visual arts until year 11. So you get a range of students. You get a range of abilities.
We have a GATS program at Saint Ives High School. So some of those students need challenged and need sophistication. So you need to make sure that their needs are met. And then some students have special learning needs. We have our hearing impaired students. So it’s very important to know them individually and to be able in the art room, to be comfortable to have those one-on-one conversations and to tailor things so that they are not overwhelmed and that they are also not bored.
I think it’s when a student, all of a sudden the pin drops, that actually, I can do this. It’s the student who can’t paint, can’t draw. I don’t think I should be doing art. I’m not good, suddenly realizes that there are different names other than realistic drawing or realistic painting, and that they stop comparing themselves to others, and they find a comfort spot.
And it might be using collage, or photography, or printmaking. And they see that artists in the real world also use different techniques to get their ideas across. I think it’s just developing confidence, and allowing them to experiment and play early in the course.
The visual diary is a really important tool for year 11 and 12 students, as it has also been in stage four and stage five. It makes the student’s thinking visible to the teachers, and it records what the student is thinking at that particular moment. Because you think of great ideas, and then you lose them if you don’t write them down.
So just as brainstorming, and taking shots on their phones, and printing them off, and sticking them in just shows what they’re doing. But it also should record conversations with teachers, opinions of peers, certainly should include investigation of artists who work either materially or conceptually in similar ways, or things that resonate with the students that they see in other artists that they can record in their diary so that their diary’s resource.
So they should be able to flip back through it and bring you their interest, or think of different ways, perhaps alternatives, to what they’ve been exploring, but still based on their original ideas. It’s certainly important. And year 12 is just a practical exercise in recording what they’ve done in case something goes wrong, in case they get sick, in case their artwork is damaged. So it’s a physical record, but it’s also a mental record, so it’s making that thinking process visible to others.
All students should be seeking to find artists that inspire them individually. As a class, we would look at artists in common. We look at the young British artists, or mostly the contemporary Australian and international artists so that they are very aware of contemporary practice, which would then translate hopefully into some aspects of their own work.
We do look at people like Ai Weiwei, and anything that’s currently happening in Sydney, like if it’s a biennale or any special exhibitions. The Duchamp was great this year. And so things that are happening currently, those artists are the ones that the students can experience, I think, with the most effect, and they will find something in those artists work that will resonate often conceptually, or their approach, or their way of recording, or their mark making, or their expressive form.
Assessment is an ongoing thing in a visual arts classroom because you’ve constantly got the conversations, which are feedback. You’ve got the recording of your own and your students’ comments and progress in the visual diary. So that’s an informal assessment.
And certainly when we have assessment tasks which may be progress or may be an interview, that is definitely helpful in having the students reflect on what they’ve done so far and what they need to do in the future to reach their potential.
Getting through the HSC course, the year 11, year 12 with groups of creative students is a really, really rewarding experience for teachers, and it really should be a rewarding experience for the students as well. For this to work, there’s got to be really strong communication, a passion for visual arts, an ability to be flexible, to be open, and honest, and to listen to students, and to really make them feel that they own their own practice.
So you’re there to guide. You’re there to help. You’re there to listen. You’re there to teach skills. But certainly, you must always remember that it’s the students’ own personal journey that is really vital in making that artwork meaningful for them, as well as reaching, obviously, the best they can in the HSC.
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Student | St Ives High School
[MUSIC PLAYING] NICHOLAS BUDISETIO: Hi. I’m Nicholas Budisetio, and I went to St. Ives High. And I did HCR. In year 11, we had an art camp for three days. And on that art camp, we explored a bunch of different forms of art like sculpture, drawing, printmaking. And that really helped me to gain an idea of composition, and color, and what I would want my artwork to look like.
So I kind of used that as a base, a foundation for building my own art. And that led me to delve further into photography as I did have an interest in photography before. But I kind of explored the medium a bit further on Art Camp. I had many opportunities to kind of go around, take photos of a bunch of beautiful scenes, a bunch of beautiful people, all that stuff. Eventually, I gained the idea of a narrative. Most of the photos I took kind of had a story behind them. Yeah. I thought photography was just really excellent for creating narratives.
In year 12, I kind of started the year with my mind set on me doing photography, and I had a pretty closed mind about it. I was like, yep. Photography– that’s definitely what I’m doing. But as I went through, I kind of struggled to formulate an idea that I was really happy with. And the main reason was because I wasn’t able to explore a deep enough narrative that I was satisfied with. So I decided to delve into film, and that gave me a lot more flexibility for the much wider scope that it provided me for portraying a narrative. It kind of gave me visual continuity and just a lot more information than a series of pictures.
SUBJECT 1: Time– it’s not something we can see or hear. We can’t touch it and can’t taste it or smell it, either. But we know it’s there. We can feel it constantly passing us by.
NICHOLAS BUDISETIO: Throughout year 12, I actually had quite a few ideas, but I didn’t really like them. So there were many times when I started over, started with a new idea, or got some storyboarding in. But then I’d scrap the idea because I didn’t like it. Yeah, that probably happened at least three or four times throughout the year. I thought that the concept of time really stood out to me, so I decided to do some research on the actual philosophy of time.
With a VADP, I started off with storyboarding initially. I printed out some images that I really liked, that I enjoyed the composition of, or the colors, or the shot type, stuff like that in my diary. And kind of analyze the image. Sometimes, I’d try to replicate that. And sometimes it would result in an interesting shot. Sometimes, it wouldn’t. But it really gave me a starting point for the types of shots that I would like to have in my film.
I think the main challenge for me was actually getting started on my major. There was a lot of idea developing leading up to my major. But the issue I had was actually getting out and filming stuff. What I would have to do is, you know, just go out. Take my camera with me. And if I saw something, I would film it. It didn’t even matter if it was interesting or not. But as long as I had something to work with, it was better than having nothing.
Even if I didn’t have my camera with me, I was able to use my phone sometimes. And I actually included some shots from my phone in my film. Some of them were really short, but I did have them in there. It really helps having a phone, because it kind of just gave me an easy access camera.
Two of the artists that stood out to me were Bill Viola and Bill Henson. And with their shots, I really felt like they carried a lot of mood. And I kind of aim to replicate that. How much I did, I’m not sure. But it really gave me a good starting point for seeing what kinds of shots were effective.
I feel like I was really lucky with the class I got, because everyone was really open about their ideas or really open about their feedback. If it was bad, they’ll tell you it was bad. If it was good, they’ll tell you it was good. If they have suggestions, they give them. And the teachers were also a big help because they really helped in supporting you and pushing you to get started or do better. Lots of strong encouragement from my teacher. And yeah, it really helped me to actually get started and finish my artwork.
Get started as soon as you can. Make sure you manage your time well. Just try keep organized across the subjects, not just art. But it’s really important to stay organized and, you know, kind of have an idea of what you’re going to do. It doesn’t have to be exact. But it’s better to just get started on something rather than nothing, because it gives you something to work with.
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Assistant Curator, Dubbo Regional Art Gallery
MARIAM ABBOUD: Hi. My name is Mariam Abboud. And I am the assistant curator at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo. For most of my childhood, my parents used to take me to the New South Wales Art Gallery to see ARTEXPRESS. And I used to always think, oh, I wish one day I could get into the gallery.
And then going through Year 7 to Year 12, my art teachers were always making us go to see ARTEXPRESS. And so going through HSC– and you know how stressful HSC is. You actually do your work. And then you might get in, you don’t get in. You get high marks, but, yeah, you don’t get in.
So then I thought, oh, I’m not– ARTEXPRESS is done. I’m finished with it. You know, Year 12 is done. There’s no more to worry about it.
And then a decade almost later, I was working up at the gallery here to– my boss Kent said to me, oh, well, you can go down and choose the works. And I’m like, oh, to what show? And he’s like ARTEXPRESS. And I’m like, no way.
And I thought, honestly, that 10 years ago, my journey with ARTEXPRESS had ended. And so a year ago, I journeyed down to Sydney, where I was able to see all the works, which are incredible, to choose the works to come into the show. And let me tell you, it was a really hard choice.
When you get down there, there’s, I think, eight different categories. So there’s painting, drawings, like sculptures. Then there’s like a collection of works. And then there’s photography, photo– I mean, there’s a whole range of genres you have to look at.
And so there’s probably about 900 works. And for me, that was a big thing because every curator there was a seasoned curator who’d done numerous ARTEXPRESS shows. And for me, this was the first time looking at these works. And you only get within like half an hour to look at over 100 works. And then you have to say which work you want to choose for the gallery.
It was really, really hard to pick the works, I’ll tell you now. But every work in that show spoke to me in one way or another. I know that sounds crazy. But when I went into that space, I had a real open mind, because I knew I couldn’t get a theme, a common theme to actually present.
So while I was walking into the, like, every work, looking at them, I was thinking, OK, well, the community will react to this because this shows drought. This shows environmental change. I was reacting to a lot of the works that talked about self and how you view it– heritage, culture. So, really, it was a combination of things that I knew would draw people in. So it was a real diverse mix of works that we chose.
On opening night last Friday, I was really freaked out because I knew those 16 kids were going to be coming in to see their works in this gallery space. And I thought, yeah, all right, they’ll come see their work for the first time. But being in that space with the kids, and being able to speak to them, and then speak to their parents and see how grateful they were about their works being chosen, I realized, wow, like, you know, it had an impact. Like these kids and their family were thinking that this was the best thing ever. And I’d helped to do that.
But then the community, as well, their reactions to works that showed drought, that showed like, you know, loss, that had looked at family relationships and looked at heritage, they engaged with it as well. They loved the works that were chosen.
We’ve already scheduled in for about 150 school students to come through ARTEXPRESS alone this week. But I imagine that will be a constant for the next three weeks. And if not, we’ve been promoting it through all the high school students to just let them come in even on the weekends with their family to make them actually see what they can achieve if they put their minds to it.
I chose Sebastian Clarke’s work, which is called “Bleating Drought.” With Sebastian, his work definitely speaks to me. Like I don’t come from a farming community or background. I come from the city.
But when I look at it, I just see the struggles that communities have out here to survive, with the raging droughts that are occurring in these areas. Families’ livelihoods are actually entwined with the earth, and with the landscape. And for them to have to then, you know, sell property, sell off cattle because they can’t afford the basic necessities, it really does speak to me.
So his work is one of the best works I’ve seen. There was no question about why it couldn’t be in the show. It had to be here.
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Education Officer, Dubbo Regional Art Gallery
[MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Phil Aitken, and I’m the Education Officer here at the Western Plains Cultural Center in Dubbo. Works on a lot of different levels. I think it’s a great showcase of what students, both regionally and, particularly, locally, because we want to celebrate the local students. It shows what the level of work that they are achieving, along with the guidance of their art teachers and the whole team. It’s a committed team really there to get it to this point, and then to have them here, and celebrate their work. Having Artexpress here in the gallery benefits the community on a lot of levels. It again comes back to that celebration of the work. It’s sharing it with the community.
Preparing for Artexpress is great. It’s one of the things we really enjoy. Because all these boxes arrive, and we’ve got an idea of what’s inside them. But then to actually see the work in the flesh, as it were, and then start laying them out, thinking where we’re going to place them in the gallery is one of those things that really sort of puts a smile on our faces as we start opening. It’s a bit like Christmas.
Having Artexpress here is one of these community outreaches. It’s important in terms of the local schools, particularly, students that are starting to venture into higher school certificate programs, so they can come in here, have a look, think about what it is they are doing themselves towards higher school with our certificate, and then what they want to achieve. So we have a number of schools coming from these students. And I gave a tour through the gallery, and hearing some of the comments from the students is one of the things that I enjoy, discussing some of the work with the students, and hearing their teachers having some discussion with these students. A big sharing thing really, it’s great, and we love it.
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Exhibitions and Collections Officer, Tamworth Regional Gallery
PAM BROWN: I’m Pam Brown, and I’m the exhibitions and collections officer with Tamworth Regional Gallery. It’s a regular show that we have every few years. They’ll go down to Homebush select the works after marking. It’s an excellent chance to view the works as a whole.
We select works that actually will help the kids in our region, the students in our region. So we know that from the interaction we have with the schools and with the students them self over the 12 month period and during the school life of the student, and they come and visit the gallery. And with that comes a bit of background of what the student is doing and what the schools are doing. So we work closely with the curriculum and that enables us to go down, look at the artworks, and know what is achievable for the children in our area, other students in our area.
It enables us to develop a connection with the community as a whole. The community finds Art Express a wonderful exhibition. It shows them. It illustrates very clearly how young minds are thinking and younger people are thinking. And there’s always a great air of positivity. It probably falls in second to line with the Archibald in terms of, when’s the Art Express coming? When are you seeing? And when it comes, general community response is absolutely excellent.
Well, we didn’t have an opening night. We had an opening afternoon. So our opening was actually aimed at a Saturday. And the reason for this is a lot of the students will travel to come to the opening. And it gives them an extra chance to come. Because if we were to have it on an evening or a Friday, it– but having it on the weekend in an afternoon, it allows students to come up from Sydney or from other country areas. Several of the students attended the opening, so that was lovely. We had a student from Coffs Harbor and students from Sydney come up.
This work is by Belle Leonard. She is from Maitland. And the reading was selected because it’s such an original piece of work. It has sound, painting. It’s a wonderful collection of works. The books with the text are intriguing.
And it’s interesting because it’s using an old proverb too, do not judge a book by its cover. And it’s posing that question. Well, this is the outside. But what am I on the inside? And I think it’s thought provoking work. It really is. It’s been a favorite amongst some of the members of the community who have been in. And they’re quite amazed that such a young person thought of something that is very profound but, at the same time, very simple. And we all are guilty at times of just judging things by their cover without looking what’s below.
The student is Jane Marie Asher. And the work is Deceased Estate. It’s a very personal work for the student. It details the deceased estate of her grandparents and the family home left vacant after their death. And here, we’re seeing the images of the farm and the interior of the house. It’s obviously been in the family for a long time.
To install this work, we found a plinth, placed it on a plinth. And because it’s a very intimate work, we wanted to keep the monitor and the books themselves close together, so that people could relate. Sometimes a work, it’s a bit spread out. But this is quite compact, just so that the public can view the work.
The video shows the house during various times of the day and over time. So you get that nighttime thing happening and different weather. We have the rain. And there are different images on the film to what’s in the book. So it actually complements.
And it shows the existence of life, I suppose. The old bathroom, it’s all set up. The age of the kitchen. And being in that space, it’s empty and showing the fact that the human presence is gone but the feeling’s still there for the home. We all have that connection.
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Director, Tamworth Regional Gallery
BRIDGET GUTHRIE: My name is Bridget Guthrie. And I’m the director here at Tamworth Regional Gallery. The Tamworth Regional Gallery holds the ARTEXPRESS exhibition every couple of years. We deliberately do that because it actually fits with our philosophy and the approach that councils used for the last 100 years actually.
We turned 100 on the 1st of June 1919. And as part of that our founder, John Silvana, was very much about education and the arts. And so that focus on education, that focus on providing access to the arts in a regional setting is really important to us and really important to the outcomes here at the gallery.
As part of that education philosophy, having ARTEXPRESS is really important, because you have direct access to HSC artworks. And it is that link with our students locally as well, students from the regions that are exhibited as part of ARTEXPRESS, and we deliberately select them as part of our curatorial rationale. So we have that representation here.
And personally I know how important that is, myself being in ARTEXPRESS when I was young. I was able to be selected. And then it showcases the students work in a way that is a professional outcome. And your represented in a gallery context that then leads on to other aspirations for the students.
The Tamworth Regional Gallery has a really strong textile collection. We’ve now been working with our text collection for almost 50 years. And our progressive early collecting in that area means that we have a survey of all different works. And so to link ARTEXPRESS to our textile history, we deliberately select textile works as well. There’s some fabulous works in this particular show that were selected to support that and bring out that history as well.
The local community have responded fantastically. They’re always enthusiastic about ARTEXPRESS, but particularly it’s a delight for them to come in and see these works that are done, often by a 17-year-old and 18-year-old person. They’re on the walls. And just the sheer, wow, factor that they go, oh my god, really, that’s done by a 17-year-old student, it’s fabulous. The community love it, and it’s always embraced.
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Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
My name’s Drew Halyday. You’re here at the wonderful Wagga Wagga Art Gallery. I’m the curator of exhibitions and collections here.
This is probably the first time a lot of students have seen their work in a gallery context. So that’s a huge rush for them. It’s also a wonderful chance for their peers, other students, to come in and see other students how they work at this level, getting them ready for their own HSC works. They can walk around. They can check out the variety of mediums, the strong concepts, the absolute flavor of this amazing work from students.
Opening night was crazy. People everywhere. All expectations blown out of the water. Lots of very happy students running around with their friends. And yeah, it was just a great fun night for everybody.
This is always a huge showstopper for our gallery. It’s such an exciting time when Art Express comes to town. The place is abuzz, not only with students, with teachers. The general public, they just want to come out and see young people are doing. So it’s amazing.
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Content updated 2/2/2020