Being able to exhibit in StArt Up: Top Arts, whose artists have inspired me since primary school, was a dream come true. By the end of year twelve, in that chaotic build up to exams, there wasn’t a huge amount of time to think about the Top Arts application or the minute chance of acceptance. But getting that email in the summer after the break was indescribable, a fluke conclusion to a year of late nights and folios. I’m so lucky to have been able to meet all the amazing artists and the incredible NGV team who put everything together and make it all possible.

The idea that strangers will be seeing and judging my work is exciting and terrifying. Studio Arts became an outlet for my craziest ideas and queries over the last year, and it feels like a snapshot of my mind space is being exposed – like throwing a little piece of my imagination out there into the world, and just hoping it stirs something in someone, any emotion or thought at all.

The exhibition had been one I looked forward to each year, especially when entering the teenage years, as the ideas and themes explored by the artists all seemed to be relevant to the process of growing up, and understanding yourself and the world around you. Seeing how people had tackled and expressed these ideas was exciting, and knowing that the artists were just years older than me was a huge source of motivation and inspiration.

Anyone involved in art at school should apply for Top Arts. The whole process is memorable and exciting, and the chance that you might get in is definitely worth the shot!

Experience StArt Up: Top Arts 2015 at NGV Australia. Open 19 Mar 15 – 28 Jun 15.

Image: Olivia Gardiner with her work Carnage 2014