To say that the opportunity to have my artwork featured in the StArt Up: Top Arts is incredible, is an understatement. Having never studied Studio Arts as a subject before Year 12, I had no idea what exactly I was getting into; all I knew was that I wanted to create artworks and improve my skills as an artist. I never imagined that one year on I would be standing next to my artwork in the National Gallery of Victoria!

I often joked around with my teacher and said “I’m going to get into Top Arts, I promise!” I never truly believed I would actually achieve such a feat – until I received an email in the afternoon of my year 12 formal confirming that not one, but two of my artworks had been shortlisted! We were both so shocked and overwhelmed with joy, it was a truly a dream come true.

When I learned that one of my pieces was chosen to be exhibited, I was absolutely over the moon. Next thing I knew, I was standing next to my work on the StArt Up: Top Arts opening night alongside my family, teachers, and fellow artists – experiencing what once felt like unattainable goal.

Being given such a wonderful opportunity has not only allowed me to feel more comfortable with who I am as an artist, but also as a person in general. Having my artwork featured in the exhibition has been an opportunity to establish myself as a more confident person, and has taught me to always try my absolute hardest in what I enjoy most – because you never know where your hard work and positive outlook will lead you.

I’m so glad that I put in those extra hours, and I hope that I can inspire others to never give up working towards their goals no matter how unrealistic they may seem. Nothing is unattainable if you put your heart into it. I cannot begin to express how thrilling it is to be where I am right now – living what feels to be an artist’s dream.

Image: Bonnie Jane Mantz with her work Society’s fantoccini