From a trickle to a torrent, around three thousand entries poured in to the Top Arts in-Box to meet the October StArt Up: Top Arts 2015 entry deadline.

From Ouyen and Dumbalk, Cohuna and Warrnambool, state schools and independent schools – applications arrived from all across Victoria. Photography and film making, animation and installation were there along with painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture – showing a healthy diversity in current art practice in schools.

Entries were opened and sorted by the Top Arts elves and then, over five days, sleeves rolled up, sweat on collective brow, the Selection panel (State Reviewers for VCE Art and Studio Arts, VCAA regional representative, NGV Senior Educator and NGV co-curators) met with the challenge to make a shortlist of students from which the final Top Arts exhibitors would be selected.

Each entry was scrutinised by every member of the selection panel, looking at how well students had worked with materials, how they had developed and resolved ideas and whether this had resulted in an aesthetically agreeable or thought provoking work of art.

By far the most popular medium for student entries was digital photography. Big themes were aspects of identity and place, with levitating figures and internal organs making a notable appearance.

The best applications contained excellent photographs of the student’s work with clear statements explaining the underpinning ideas, and showed that students had taken their exploration of a material or concept to a high level.

Shortlisted students were notified in mid November and asked to bring their entire body of work and developmental material in to the VCAA premises in Coburg – a big logistical exercise for some! They also had to submit an artist’s statement and a questionnaire about their work and processes – to be used in the exhibition labels.

Meanwhile, for exhibition curators (Beckett and Ingrid) work has been underway meeting teams from Exhibition Management, Publications, Media and Marketing amongst others…planning how to make StArt Up: Top Arts 2015 the best Top Arts ever.

Next step: Selection