Ground Level, NGV Design Studio
For more than twenty two years, this popular exhibition has presented outstanding work by students who have completed Art or Studio Arts studies in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). StArt Up: Top Arts 2016 presents work from forty-two inspiring young artists in a diversity of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video and sound. The exhibition provides insight into young people’s ideas and concerns, thinking and creative practices, and features a selection of folios and developmental material. StArt Up: Top Arts 2016 is a celebration of the quality and diversity of the creative talents of the next generation.
VCE Studio Arts – Example proposal for download
Exploration Proposal by student Harriet Renn
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Ideas behind the work…This series of paintings was the outcome of an exploration into the relationship between the artist and their muse. The muse is so often considered to be another person, typically a female interest of the male artist. I wanted to challenge this notion by exploring an alternative to this stereotype. I was inspired by artists such as Paul Cézanne whose painting practice in the last thirty years of his life predominantly reflected his musing over still life. I found myself similarly musing over the collection of objects in my work space such as ink bottles, coffee cups, brushes, old cutlery. Throughout this exploration I also looked at painting techniques that reflected the frenzied connection between artist and muse.
Starting point and influences…The idea of the Artist’s Muse came to me during a life drawing class when I began to consider the relationship between the model and the artist. I considered the role of the model as both a learning tool and also as a muse to a specific artist. Looking back through art history, the muse is typically a woman who is depicted for her beauty, her figure or her intrigue. I wanted to push the boundaries of what a muse could be. Paul Cézanne was an influence for his musing over still life, suggesting the potential for an intimate and reflective connection between the artist and something other than another human being. I found Richard Diebenkorn to be a major influence for his expressive painting technique.
Favourite artist… I admire Richard Diebenkorn’s draughtsmanship and diversity of practice. I think his technical grounding allowed him to paint in a fluid and gestural manner with such confidence. I like how he shifted between representing the figure as well as abstraction and didn’t settle for one style.
Focus on a broad and open concept that will allow room to shift, as inevitably your interests and ideas will change as you mature throughout Year 12. Be true to yourself when creating your artwork, stick to what you are passionate about but also don’t be afraid to take a few risks and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Ideas behind the work…The ideas behind the piece Motion came from my overall theme of movement. I wanted to explore and then show through the piece that movement is all around us, that it can be captured and can be shown in many different ways. I did this by using dance, which is full of movement, capturing it on something 2D and static and then recreating the movement that was once there with multiple rotating images. Making the sculpture interactive was also very important to me, as I wanted to show that movement can be created by others. The only way to show the photographs moving was if the viewers moved the handle themselves.
Materials and processes…For my piece, Motion, I used a mix of materials and processes to create the final work. I started by taking many series of quick, continuous photos of a girl dancing in front of a rustic, earthy, brick background. I then chose the best series – roughly 25 photos – and started experimenting with what I was going to attach them to, to make them rotate. After many prototypes I ended up using thick cardboard, tennis racket string and a piece of dowel to create a skeleton for the photos to be placed on. After editing and gluing the photos on, it was time to create the frame/box that they would sit in. I developed many shapes and ideas experimenting with different materials. I ended up using recycled wood to create something quite large and tall in comparison to the photos. that allowed light in and made it bigger in scale, making it more visually appealing. I then found and added finishing touches like a brass ‘stopper’ to allow the photos to flip separately, old bolts, nails, paint (that I sanded back) and made a handle to spin the images.
Creating the work…I loved from trying to discover how I was going to make a still image move. I made many little paper pad flip books, then made mini photograph flip books, but still wanted more. I thought of enlarging them and then eventually thought of making them rotate. The challenging part was discovering how I was going to do this and the mechanics and technicalities behind it. I looked at making it move electronically at first, but really wanted it to be moved by hand to fit with my whole theme. It was hard to get everything in the perfect position and make the photographs at the perfect size to allow them to flip, but it very interesting and I enjoyed discovering new techniques.
My advice would be to pick a theme that you love and are inspired to discover more about, but don’t be afraid to try something completely out of your comfort zone within that, as it can sometimes lead to the perfect idea. I’ve had such a fun year with a great teacher and class. What I have learnt is that it’s so important to work with each other and also learn from other (old and new) artists from all aspects and forms of art as they can help and inspire you to create great things.
Ideas behind the work…
The ideas behind each of my two artworks are similar. My collages encompass the theme of the mundane, undervalued aspects of our lives, encouraging the viewer to take notice of the little things that surround us. I explored different ways to give new energy to paper that would otherwise be thrown out. Untitled #1 focuses on identifying the found objects hidden amongst vibrant colours that are unnoticed at first glance. This is an exercise in recognizing hidden beauty. The shapes the papers create in conjunction with one another are completely unique, in contrast to the common/mundane qualities they have on their own.
Make sure that whatever you’re creating gives you a sense of excitement and pleasure, otherwise don’t do it.
Ideas behind the work…Insecurities about appearance, particularly in regards to facial features, are prevalent throughout today’s society. Many of us have a particular part of the face that we feel self-conscious about (myself included), and we tend to focus on these features when we view ourselves. This obsession with the nose or eyes or lips, highlighted by being painted in sharp detail within a blurred portrait, can be debilitating for us and can limit our confidence to the point where that feature is all we see when we look in the mirror.
Inspiration…In a way, just seeing different people’s faces inspires me to make art. If I see someone with an interesting face, I think about how I’d love to make a portrait of them. I am inspired by anatomy, the relationship between light and dark on the face, the way colours appear differently on different skin tones- all somewhat technical things. Biology and science also plays a role in the way I visualize my subjects and the final product of what I create. I tend to think of things rather methodically and I’m quite a perfectionist, so I try hard to see the beauty in imperfection, which is why I feel so inspired by anatomy – something which is so flawed yet so fascinatingly well-constructed and purposeful.
Favourite artist…I admire the work of Dirk Dzimirsky, a hyperrealist artist from Germany. His portraits in graphite, oils and other mediums blur the line between painting/drawing and photography, and he explores how flaws – pores and fine lines and wrinkles – really are a part of who we are. His commitment to detail really influenced my own interest in incorporating realism into my own artworks.
Folio work is not something you can do in one night. Make it your goal to complete a set amount of pages in a night or within a week – even if it’s just one or two pages every week night. With that in mind, take care not stress your self out. If you need to take a break from art, whether it’s your folio or your final, do so – it’s best not to be frustrated and disgruntled with your theme. Take a break, do some art for enjoyment and you’re more likely to come back to your artistic endeavours refreshed with new ideas and determination. It’s also important to remember not to compare yourself to other students and artists. What you do is personal and your own – don’t feel the need to emulate a style or change your ideas just because of someone else. You’re unique and you should always feel comfortable within your own abilities. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things! Don’t end the year with regret that you didn’t try a new medium or that you didn’t reattempt something that challenged you. The more you try out things, the more interesting things you’ll discover.
Ideas behind the work…Coming into Units 3 and 4 Studio Arts, I knew that I wanted to take on the challenge of incorporating the element of water into my painting. After research and trials, I decided to go with this rather confronting close up shot as the subject matter for my painting. I used black, white and grey as I felt that the tonal contrasts were effective in emphasising the dark emotion behind the work.
Materials and processes…After a series of photo shoot trials with my sister and various liquids, I began testing paints such as oil paint, acrylic paint and gouache on various papers such as shell paper, card, watercolor paper and cartridge paper. With the majority of the trials flaking, not blending effectively and not drying fast enough, my final choice of materials was black and white gouache on A1 cartridge paper. At the start of the process I experimented with projection to be time efficient, but quickly realised that I could draw the proportions faster so I went with that direction. Using watercolor and fine brushes I started on the subject’s face and worked my way out to the background, which I blended with thicker watercolor paint brushes.
Favourite artist…The artist I was influenced by was Alyssa Monks. She seems to enjoy every aspect of depicting texture in her work and reminds me of the intensity of our own body and the beauty of life. Her painting shows humanity with extreme accuracy. She doesn’t use a wide range of bright colors, but her use of daunting scale and fine brushstrokes helps to give the illusion of reality.
My advice to students undertaking VCE Studio Arts would be to dedicate a lot of time to your folio and experimenting with materials, techniques and processes. This will help you be prepared for your final artworks. If you feel as if your mind is blocked, researching artists or visiting galleries can help with ideas and expand creativity.
Ideas behind the artwork... I used the family portrait to depict the innate complexity of feelings and emotions that we individually have and collectively share. The light in the work illustrates our hopes and dreams, giving us clarity and providing guidance. The darkness suggests a place where we can hide away our fears. The fire is the warmth, hope and sense of belonging. The different tones represent all that we are and all the emotions we share.
Materials and influences… Initially, I took photographs of my family during events that are important to us, such as camping, family dinners, playing backyard cricket. This led to the idea of creating a piece that explores the use of light and dark as metaphors for our collective emotions within a family. I began to trial materials such as a wooden board, acrylic paints and various sized brushes. Inspired by Post Impressionism and Renaissance styles, using techniques of sfumato and chiaroscuro, I used the family portrait to symbolise all the emotions that we have and the complexity of our own personalities. I staged a family photograph, manipulating and editing it using raster and vector applications. I projected the altered image onto a large board to paint. The light and dark within the piece reflects our hopes and fears. It conveys how family allows us the comfort to be who we really are.
Inspiration…For my entire life I have had a strong passion for art and music. But I have always loved the idea of bringing something to life in the form of an artwork. Styles that follow the qualities of realism, post-impressionism, genre painting, and occasionally surrealism, have always had a great impact upon how I create an artwork.
Be authentic, look into yourself for inspiration and discover what excites you, what you are passionate about or keen to learn more about. Be prepared to expose your artistic self. Take risks and be excited by the possibilities. Make sure you are constantly annotating and filling in your visual diary, and always aim to create artworks that you are passionate about and willing to commit a lot of time and effort to.
Ideas behind the art…This collection was entitled John. I aimed to explore the masculine persona that John projects outwardly and the juxtaposition between this and his more vulnerable side. I felt that it was important to show a diverse representation of him, as no individual is one-dimensional. I chose to focus on showing his virility, as that is what he projects as an artist himself – as a rapper. As his girlfriend I was able to see a softer side to him which others rarely saw.
Challenges…The Darkroom.I had never tried film photography before so at the start of the year I had to give myself a crash course on how to produce images traditionally using 35mm black and white film. This was probably a bad idea in retrospect, as Year 12 is not the time to be making things harder for yourself, however, I’m glad I did it because I never lost the drive to try or got bored of the process.
Influences…I mainly looked at the work of artists such as Larry Clark and Katy Grannan for my John series. I loved the honest nature and clean aesthetics of the work, as well as the focus on individuality within them. These two artists are very influential on all of my works as I admire the brutality and honestly in their work. I wished to create the same feeling in my own artwork – avoiding pretentiousness and peeling back to the honest and confronting truth.
At times it’s going to feel like you’re drawing blood from a stone, but trust me, it will come to an end and you don’t want to feel like you could have put in more. Never let your folio leave your sight, this will be your bible for the next 9 months.
Ideas behind the work...
The concept of this piece is the depiction of identity through portraiture. This is a portrait of a stranger: the ambiguity of the character allows observers to ultimately decide the identity of the subject. I utilised cropping so an observer can get an inkling of who the subject may be, through engaging them with a strong focus area.
The starting point for my artwork was exploring ideas surrounding how we perceive identity through an individual’s face. I was influenced by facial expressions, emotions, colour and personality in order to fully investigate my theme of identity through portraiture.
Inspiration…Many hyper-realistic artists like Eloy Morales, Mike Dargas and Monica Lee inspire me. The scale and immaculate detail put into each artwork is incredible. Travelling also inspires me; going to new places and experiencing different cultures expands my knowledge and world perspective. After a trip I’m always super motivated to make more art.
Favourite artist..At the moment my favourite artist is Lee Price, she is an American figurative realist painter and her work focuses on the relationship between women and food. Almost all of her paintings are from an aerial point of view and beautifully injected with colour. I really admire how Price not only conveys a lot of meaning in her paintings through composition, but also creates these captivating scenes that are pleasing to the eye.
Whenever you have an idea write it down. During VCE you can’t keep up with endless mental notes, so in order to remember those little sparks of genius you should have them on paper. Also, immerse yourself in things that inspire you; for me, that was following a multitude of artists on Instagram, researching various techniques and logging into Tumblr every once in a while to motivate myself by looking at some of my favourite art blogs.
Ideas behind the artwork…Untitled #9, #10 and #11 differ in their subject, therefore could not be linked as a series however, the idea they each present subtly builds an association between the three and is the foundation for my whole folio. I decided to shoot the raw state of objects, giving my audience their own space to create meaning.
Starting points and influences…I began my folio by taking photos of buildings using either an SLR digital camera or my iPhone 6. Often, I would take photos from the front or a longshot, and then I would begin to get closer and capture the buildings smaller components. When taking the photos the space and lighting within the space was my main influence, playing a significant role in how I would capture the photos. When editing them later, the shadows and layers would have an impact on how I constructed the buildings. I have a strong love of space which would always influence my work and I enjoy contrast and balance.
Favourite artist…Both James Turell and Francis Bacon greatly inspire me, despite their significant differences. Turell notably reveals how we internally create a perception through the construction of space. Using only light as a medium, Turell juxtaposes and rearranges space, being dependant on light and gives the audience the authority to build their own self-directed environment, ‘You are looking at you. What is important…to create an experience of wordless thought.’ (Turell) I believe that art can help individuals appreciate the environment around them. That Turell allows his audience to recognise their surroundings, appreciating a raw space and be able to build their own reality is what I admire about this artist.
Conversely, whilst Bacon violently distorts his subjects and my subjects are sharp and refined, I admire his love and passion for art. He once said that ‘It’s all so meaningless, we may as well be extraordinary.’ I am not claiming my work to be ‘extraordinary’ but Bacon inspired me to work hard and really capture the beauty in art. Bacon’s ability to love art and be able to convey this on a canvas is infectious and he indirectly inspired me to be the best artist I could be.
Besides being as organised as you can, one piece of advice I would give to future art students is to observe your world in detail. Visit exhibitions. Although you may be in a stressful year of VCE, seeing exhibitions – even ones you may not be interested in – will provide you with a variety of inspirations. Look closely at things, not just exhibitions but every day things. Explore beyond the obvious and learn to familiarise yourself with spaces. There will always be something to see and create in the world, and as visionaries we have the ability to do so. Go out and see what our world has to offer.
Ideas behind the work…Anchorage is a series of four images designed to captivate and present a scene that can be gradually explored. I wanted to capture as best I could the environment of French Island whilst also instilling the sense of wonder and exploration that the subject is experiencing. I wanted each piece to act as a scene that the viewer becomes a part of instead of merely observing. The series draws attention to the juxtaposition between our constantly changing characters as human beings and the quietly evolving nature of the landscape that surrounds us. Whilst prompting these thoughts, each piece invites the viewer to have an active role in the narrative of the overall series.
Materials and processes...Anchorage is a panoramic series created using the Brenizer Method. The method is quite similar to a normal panorama but instead incorporates a shallow depth of field into each individual frame (there are approximately 50 images in each piece). The end result is a very wide angle image with very little distortion and a subtle blur effect given to the foreground and background. This method gave the images a feeling somewhat similar to that of a medium or large format camera which I thought naturally suited the wide, scenic appearance of the series. The immense detail combined with the natural viewing angle supported the intention of drawing the viewer into the scene. The size of the works was also designed around the immersive viewing experience. All up, if displayed in a row the series is about 10m long, and aims to gradually depict the passage from dusk to night as the viewer walks alongside the works. As the viewer nears each piece they will notice each small detailed tree, blade of grass or bird making up the whole scene.
Starting point and influences…Through the year my exploration was focused on portraiture, specifically looking at different ways to depict a character other than a typical image of a subject. As the year progressed I experimented with a variety of photographic genres and after studying artists including Jeff Wall and Annie Leibovitz, I saw a new approach to portraiture that I had previously not considered. From this point onwards I started to explore portraiture on a much larger scale, not only depicting the subject but also the environment around them.
Have an authentic passion for the work that you do. If you’re passionate you’ll be interested and if you’re interested you will naturally feel motivated to do the work. Other than this, I suggest understanding the actual purpose of completing a folio. Understand that the folio is a journey and an exploration in which each piece of work isn’t simply there to get marked but also to answer the questions that are initially set by your overall exploration proposal.
Don’t worry too much about creating the perfect topic to base your folio on. Although it will definitely help to choose something that you’re passionate about, don’t obsess too much. Naturally throughout the year you will come up with other topics that may have been easier, more focussed, more interesting, etc. but within your current topic there is an infinite number of ideas waiting to be explored. Treat it as a game. Don’t be afraid to bite off more than you can chew, because you can always chew like crazy.
Ideas behind the art…Nexus, which means ‘connection’ in Latin, focuses on physically representing the elements of an individual’s mind, body and spirit whilst presenting the viewer with the contemporary notion of music as art as well as body percussion and “Sound Art”. The contrived sounds made by the body fuse aspects of one’s internal and external conscious state through the use of knuckle cracking, cheek/lip popping and chest beating. Utilising my own vocals allowed me to create a tranquil atmosphere to mirror the emotions one experiences in a complete state of calm.
Starting point and influences…Nexus was highly influenced by my interest in new age thinking, focusing on the importance of our mind, body and spirit. Having previously researched music in art and body percussion, I began by brainstorming how the body can make contrived noises to represent each element of the mind, body and spirit. Body percussion was extremely interesting to me as I didn’t know how many tonal colours could be created by simply clapping or slapping your thighs in a rhythmic pattern. From this point onwards I wanted to add more layers of sound, which lead to my use of musical background harmonies. Composing the harmonies consisted of me sitting at my piano scribbling down nonsensical chords and notes in order to create the tranquil and hypnotic sound that I was envisaging.
Favourite artist...Lucy McRae’s work intrigues me as she explores the relationship between the body and technology. The way McRae depicts the human body and body image interests me as she utilises various unusual materials to create symbolism and reflect on a specific issue. The use of silicone and plastic body parts evident within her film Make Your Maker was particularly fascinating as she was able to comment on plastic surgery and image falsification within our society. Her highly conceptual videos inspired me to continue using multimedia.
Beginning with a concept that you are passionate about and are willing to explore will help you to discover ideas that may challenge and even surprise you. Creating documentation of your entire journey and thought process is important as you are able to see the evolution of your ideas. All of your ideas in the process are important. Something that may appear insignificant at the time, may flourish into a key concept. Developmental work does not necessarily need to appear ordered and attractive. It is more important to spend quality time on an idea as opposed to creating an aesthetically pleasing folio. Pace yourself by allocating a specific amount of focused time on your folio, concepts or simply brainstorming daily as this will allow your ideas to flow with continuity.
Ideas behind the work… This year I built my area of exploration around my interest in portraiture. Specifically, I sought to represent aspects of a subject’s personality and non-physical characteristics through materials and techniques, while retaining a physical likeness to them. This exploration led me to question how my own prior knowledge of a subject was influencing my depiction of them, thus leading me to also analyse how an artist’s perceptions of a subject result in the conveying of a subjective reality. My work Grace aims to express the contrast between the image that the subject projects on social media, and my own personal perceptions of them, thus exploring the influence of my own perceptions and the influence that social media has had on the subject’s life.
Materials and processes…After taking and selecting my reference photo of the subject I pixelated the work, using Adobe Photoshop to create a ‘map’ of sorts, by separating, grouping and assigning each colour an individual number. Then, using acrylic paint and water (to thin the paint and allow it to pass through needles), I mixed the 87 different numbered hues, and filled a syringe with each colour. After building two appropriately sized wooden frames, I stretched a large sheet of bubble wrap between them and nailed the wood together to keep the plastic taut. Using the digital ‘map’ as a guide, I worked from the bottom of the frame up. After pre-pricking each bubble to minimise the risk of them popping as they filled with paint, I injected the appropriate paint colour into each individual bubble of the bubble wrap. I intentionally overfilled each bubble, allowing paint to drip out from the pre-pricked hole and down the back of the work to create a second, slightly blurred painting.
Inspirations…Chuck Close has always been an artistic inspiration for me. In particular, his distinctive use of shape and colour in the creation of portraits was a primary inspiration in the creation of my work this year. Cayenne Zavaglia’s ‘thread’ paintings also acted as an inspiration by broadening my idea of portraiture, demonstrating the ability to portray a person effectively in a slightly abstract manner, and pushing me to think about the use of materials and techniques to create a message and not just a visual work. I found much of my inspiration online, from online journals, artist websites and social media such as Tumblr. I found that through social media in particular, I was able to gain exposure to a wider range of works than would have been possible by only “Googling” works and visiting galleries.
Get started quickly! I found the preliminary brainstorming of themes and ideas challenging and, because of that, spent much too much time trying to find the ‘perfect’ area of exploration. I found that once I had selected a broad theme, I was better able to flesh it out when writing my exploration proposal. Similarly, there is never going to be a perfect time to start your final, so the earlier the better. The cliché that ‘time flies’ holds true, especially towards the end of term 3 when many subjects are requiring students to complete their last SACS. Finally, something I have learnt from my own mistakes is don’t try and perfect your design process; it’s going to be messy and disordered! Representing the development of your ideas and the things that didn’t work out is much more helpful when developing your work and will, in the end, culminate in a far more in-depth folio—particularly in Unit 3 when you are fleshing out your initial ideas.
Ideas behind the artwork…
HQ GTS Monaro
I was really focused on capturing the different sections of the Monaro which show its different characteristics. In this particular drawing I focused on the back of the car. The ‘GTS’ was critical as it identifies the car. I was intrigued by the reflections on the chrome bumper bar, creating different shapes and patterns from the concrete.
1972 HQ GTS Monaro
In this particular drawing, I was fascinated with how the reflections hit the car on the mirror and the body. I wanted to give an insight into the interior of the car as well as the exterior. I loved how the reflective shapes show various tones, creating a realistic effect. I was focused on capturing the classic essence of the car.
I decided to solely concentrate on the headlight of the classic car. It is a vital part of the car and it gives the essence that the car is ‘alive’. I love how the headlight is reflected on the chrome bar, doubling the intricate detail seen. It also shows how times have changed in car manufacturing, comparing classic and modern cars and how rare classic cars are nowadays.
Starting point and influences…From my fascination and love for cars through my dad and also attending numerous car shows, I began to explore artists whose focus was solely on cars. This opened my eyes to the different ways to photograph/draw cars, the angles and lighting. I began to photograph different sections of my dad’s car, as each section was unique and also captured the different reflections. I then explored various mediums which gave each drawing a different effect and aesthetic.
Favourite artist… My favourite artist is Chip Foose. He is not only an artist but is also an American Hot Rod shop owner, an automotive designer and fabricator and star of the reality TV show Overhaulin’. I admire that he is living his dream and passion, in which he restores classic cars, bringing them back to life but first drawing the car, giving an insight into what it will look like. He is a very dedicated hard worker, who takes pride in what he produces whether it is his drawings or building cars.
Create a piece of art that you are truly connected to, something that means a lot to you because as you see your art becoming what you envisioned, there are no words to describe how proud you will be. There will be many challenges that you will have to face but these challenges help you grow as an artist and as a person. Be prepared to spend endless hours completing your artwork as it can consume you if you don’t have good time management skills. Don’t be afraid to explore a range of ideas, mediums, and materials and to also be patient as you will strive to achieve many goals throughout VCE Art and Studio Arts.
Ideas behind the artwork… Íroes, Greek for heroes, explores how the gods and goddesses portrayed in the ancient Greek myths are frequently perceived as heroic champions and are used as role models for humans to find inspiration. However, in some cases, the heroes we are worshipping are not always as good as they seem. There is not one god or goddess who only holds good qualities and attributes; many gods have evil traits and characteristics. In some cases, the misunderstood or different people of our society are depicted as evil villains. However, it is their demonisation and degradation that can cause them to spiral out of control and become the villain. In Íroes I’m aiming to express that villains are sometimes more heroic than the traditional hero, and it’s society’s judgement of the stereotypical villain that causes them to be seen as evil and consequently become isolated and inevitably spiral out of control.
Starting point and influences…The main influences for creating Íroes was my love for ancient Greek history and the stories and myths of the different ancient Greek gods and goddesses. I initially wanted to depict one main Greek god or goddess through my artwork and use colours and symbols to represent them and their ancient stories/myths. However, I decided to make a series of five photos and include two different sides to the character I created. The character I created was not one specific god or goddess, but a representation of various gods and the differing qualities they all hold. This artwork was inspired by a series of photos I took in Year 11 for Studio Arts Units 1/2 which explored the concept of the influence of Christianity. For my Year 11 artworks I made a series of images with a person modelled as a holy saint in a religious iconographic image. This style of religious iconography inspired me to make Íroes a series of images depicting a person as a representation of a Grecian god.
I have been largely inspired by artist and film maker, Matthew Barney. Through his ideas and aesthetic style, he incorporates a world of myth inspired by symbols of Mormonism, Masonic ritual and Celtic legend. I am intrigued by his ability to create myths inspired by tradition and history and interpret them in a 21st century way. As I have explored the concept of Greek mythology and the power it exerts on the 21st century, I’ve been greatly inspired by ability to create his own innovative universe through works such as the avant-garde five part film project The Cremaster Cycle. In my work I have aimed to create a world inspired by traditional myths and teachings, and translate them into a modern, futuristic aesthetic style. Barney’s use of unorthodox materials such as absurd costumes, objects and characters allows him to create a world of fantasy and illusion.
If you are really passionate about art making, go above and beyond to produce the most creative, visionary artworks that you can make. Be dedicated and take your art making very seriously – there is no better feeling than that of accomplishment and satisfaction with yourself and what you have created. Make sure to always listen to your heart and produce art that you believe in, don’t be hindered by others’ opinions.
Ideas behind the art…The idea behind Fluidity, stemmed from my intrigue in how the human form is built and structured. I was interested in how our bodies are seen as physically and anatomically strong with our skin molded around our physique to create a dense and durable form. However, I was also interested in how our bodies are made up largely of water and how this liquidity is unseen. I wanted to create artworks that demonstrated the movement and structure of the human form, as well as the fluid motion of water, merging the ideas of realism and abstraction.
Materials and process…To create Fluidity I used a method called Slit-Scan photography. The Slit-Scan technique is one that distorts time, creating a displacement of movement. I created a Slit-Scan box to create my own distortion camera. I gathered a range of hardware materials, such as aluminium tracking and a thin ply-wood board, to craft this device. I manipulated a black tub by cutting a hole wide enough for my camera to peer through into one side of the box. I attached the hardware materials to the box and then mounted my creation onto a tripod, where my digital camera would look through to the open side of the tub. On the ply board, I cut a 2mm slit, matching the width of the box. To take a photograph, I timed the sliding of the board that travelled along the tracks, corresponding with the exposure time from my camera. Simultaneously, a body was moving in front of the camera. Therefore, the small slit in the board, moving horizontally across the box on the aluminium tracks, stretched the appearance of the figure, creating a time displacement and distortion.
Influences…I began a large journey into the world of distortion, influenced firstly by the musician Flume, who I have always liked. I watched the music video for his song Some Minds and thought it displayed an incredible resemblance to my theme. This had an immediate impact and I was desperate to discover the technique that was used, not realising that it would be the technique that I would use in my final artwork. Once I understood the Slit-Scan method, I intended to use digital manipulation skills on a computer to create a film. However, I ran into multiple problems which altered my ideas completely. With the influence of artists such as Frederic Fontenoy and Andrew Davidhazy, I was able to appreciate the beauty of distorted photographs.
Art can be anything you want it to be. Initially, I disregarded my passion for photography and film, travelling down a path that was not true to me. I really recommend following an idea that you love. If you hit a wall, it is not over. Turn a dilemma into a positive, because there are going to be ups and downs throughout all aspects of any folio subject. Folios take time and by the end of school, you will discover that your folio and finished pieces will come together with great results. Most importantly, enjoy it because it is a wonderful experience.
Ideas behind the work…The idea behind Lila Roda was to incorporate both scenic nature and classic cars, as I found a close correlation between the two. My aim was to create an aesthetically pleasing artwork that allowed the viewer to become engrossed both in the beautiful classic car and the equally beautiful natural environment of the Dandenong Ranges. Cars are an integral part of my family’s life: my love of them led me to explore this theme in Year Twelve. Incorporating the classic car into the wintery environment has made the classic car a hero in the modern world – a twist on modern views and lifestyles.
I explored manipulating my photographs using areas of strong colour and black and white. This image has been particularly successful in creating a very strong climatic atmosphere – also reflected in the windscreen and the duco of the car. I decided to present the image on a large scale to increase the impact on the viewer and to immerse them – as if they were standing in front of the car.
Inspirations…Inspirations in my life include Yousuf Karsh and Steve McCurry, because of Karsh’s distinct style of theatrical lighting and McCurry’s portraits. Car magazines also inspire me as the quality and sleekness of the photos are something I admire and wish to recreate. I am also interested movies that feature cars as the hero with their own personality. E.g. Back to the Future, Herbie.
Favourite artist…Annie Leibovitz; I admire her use of strong colour and her theatrical and surrealist staging. Her use of strong lighting and a crisp colour palette appeal to my sense of drama.
My advice to future Year 12 students would be to choose a theme that they are passionate about and to change direction within that if needed. To widen your ideas, I suggest interacting regularly with your teacher as it can add a different perspective that can influence and help your ideas expand and develop in more interesting ways than may otherwise happen. It can bring the best out in you and your creativity.
Ideas behind the work…The first track ‘Dog Park’ is a song I wrote about finding solace in the mundanities of life. It is a very visual song and describes things that teenagers do to entertain themselves and simple things that make us feel better. This song is influenced by locations I grew up with within the suburbs, such as dog parks, diners, home, highways, train stations, and sitting in car at night. The song ‘I guess I am Pretentious’ outlines my insecurities as an adolescent, and the fear of missing out. I never feel cool because I’m not going out to cool parties and I’m just at home eating cereal out of the box. Basically everyone is insecure, and we’re all still trying to figure it out. ‘Who Are You?’ is a song about the things that keep me up night. It discusses existentialism, and the idea that you’re never enough. It also explores my mental health, and my mental state, and the question of whether I want to get better. ‘Everybody Just Wants To Use You’ is about the constant talk of the future, which is terrifying. It explores my obsession with youth, and the idea of wanting to be forever young. This world is a dog eat dog place and I’m not sure if I am ready.
Materials and process…The entire EP was recorded on my smart phone in my bedroom. I chose to use this device to record as it’s a representation of the youth culture of today where everything is extremely accessible, and memories are able to be caught and stored in modern technology and live in our back pockets. I recorded all the songs in one sitting – so for certain songs I would play stock noises (such as bird noises and rain fall), then I would adjust the volume and play the song live. It’s not meant to be clean or well put together, it’s just meant to sound like someone playing songs that they wrote in their bedroom – which is exactly what it is. There’s nothing fancy or elaborate about it.
Creating the work… I find the most interesting thing about my work is how it is perceived by others lyrically and sonically, and how they relate it back to the visual environment. It was interesting watching people engage with my installation, and the different feelings that it evoked. Some came out saying that it was rather melancholy and sad, while others were overwhelmed by how direct and familiar it felt.
Trust yourself. Do what you want to do. Don’t do something based on what you think others (your teacher, VCAA etc.) want to see. You will feel better about yourself if you make art that you want to make, rather than art for VCE. Or you will regret not making the kind of art that you wanted. Make art that you care about. Pick a theme that you are content with being married to for the whole year – this will make life much easier.
Ideas behind the work…These images work together and individually to convey the grandeur of the environment and the smallness of the viewer in comparison, exploring traditional Romantic themes. Bringing the concepts behind the Romantic movement into a modern day context with a contemporary medium, these works ultimately strive to evoke similar reactions in a person today as would have been evoked by a work in the movement’s original era. These images of the sulfur mines in Hakone’s mountains have been rendered in black and white. I adopted an Ansel Adams-like approach to achieve similar grandeur and impact in my own work. The photos dramatise the environment and cause the viewer to experience awe and reverence for this monolith of nature that is slowly being mined from within and depleted as a result of modern man’s disregard for the environment and thirst for resources.
What intrigued me most was the immense transformation in an image when it was made black and white. Although I knew that the contrast and monochromatic aspects would accentuate the definition and impact of the image, the final product took me by surprise, somehow appearing more like the place felt in person.
Creating the work…The most challenging aspect in the work’s creation was knowing when to stop editing and also keeping the image bright. Though the transformation to B&W was immensely successful, I found myself always tinkering with black levels, adjusting brightness and contrast, attempting to accentuate the definition further each time. It took my teacher to tell me it was too dark and to just let it be, for me to finally finish it and be happy with the end result.
Favourite artist…Ansel Adams, for his masterful use of composition and technical expertise in creating photographs of such grandeur. Though uncompromising in his range of subject matter, each of his images are individual and distinct. In an era where photographers had to be photojournalists to make money or gain respect, Adams kept to natural landscapes, using such images to persuade Congress of the importance of conservation and establishing national parks; Adams influence stretches far beyond photography. He is directly responsible for much of the emphasis on respecting national parks and conserving our environment.Adams’ images are what caused me to realise my passion for photography.
I would advise against thinking about final artworks or end results, and rather allow your exploration and passions to inform what you do. The final work should be the resolution of this process, not its origin. And when creating works, attempt to do so with a greater commentary or concept in mind, as this can help to both inform artistic direction and provide the final work with substance.
Ideas behind the work…These works are exploring the existentialist perception of the human condition through the Chinese religion of Taoism, and its associated symbolism of the Tao or Yin and Yang. The work depicts three moon faces at different stages of the lunar cycle. Each phase is a symbol of time, such as past, present and future or new life and death through the span of ones’ life. The moons depict the coexistence and balance of light and dark, as well as good and bad within oneself, as explored in the Taoist symbol of the Tao. The work aims to portray a feeling of solitude through the depiction of a single figure within each moon. The moon, as a celestial body, has been discussed throughout history as having religious connotations, and being associated with gods. The idea of gods being correlated with the moon portrays the solitude of man in the absence of a higher power, supporting the existentialist view.
Starting point and influences…My artwork is inspired by the Taoist symbol of the Tao and the notion of balance within the symbol as well as the idea of solitude in one’s life. The composition is derivative of this Taoist symbol as it aims to create a balance of light and dark within the spherical figures. However, this work follows my Unit 3 Art final exploring similar ideas. This work began as a refinement of the previous work and I wanted to play with the idea of creating a more surreal and intellectual artwork that expresses my ideas about solitude, time and life.
My works sometimes begin from an image, but most commonly I contemplate a phrase or write down a sentence that means something to me, and then I begin to imagine a work that reflects that idea. So the genesis of my work is from written language, which I interpret into a visual language, aiming to have the same sense of language and poetry within the work that I create.
Favourite artist… is Australian artist, Carmel Seymour. I admire her artistic technique, ability, and artistic style as well as her dedication to her practice and education. I feel very connected to her artworks and their surreal qualities. I think that her work and style is admirable because of their humanity and delicate nature, yet their rather exaggerated environments and opaque figures. My favourite works by Seymour are I Want Everything 2011 and Trust Games 2 2013. Both works have a low opacity, paired with rich hues to create surreal and dream-like imagery that communicates, quite poetically, the emotional states and aesthetic qualities that are being portrayed. My other favourite artist is Australian artist, Cherry Hood. I admire her portraiture works because of their delicate nature and the sense of vulnerability and naivety that they portray; especially considering most of her subject matter consists of young people. I admire Hoods’ ability to create movement within her works and I also admire her ability and skill when mixing colour palettes rather seamlessly, especially considering that they don’t necessarily belong together in a nature, but they exist flawlessly within her works.
My advice would be create a folio based on something that you are genuinely interested in. Whether it is your interest in music, television and movies, books, science, whatever it is, explore it. Be confident and true about why you are choosing this subject, because to show your ability, interest and to develop unique ideas, you need to be dedicated and passionate about the basis of your folio. I think that to create an quality folio is not just about having skills and technique or having unique ideas, it is about combining these two to create cohesion, coherency and to communicate what you are trying to portray. It is also imperative that you ensure ideas are spontaneous in genesis, but cured over the course of the folio development to create balance and fluidity of ideas. No idea is too extreme or ridiculous to include in your folio – this just shows that you are creative and dedicated to your practice. Don’t try to make the folio and your practice something that it isn’t because you will just find yourself running short or feeling disappointed. So make your practice as genuine and honest as it can possibly be.
Ideas behind the work…Doll is inspired by two key concepts: instilling strong emotion within the viewer and my disgust at the morals and views that are imposed upon us from early childhood. My artwork aims to create reactions within the viewer as they question the way they and others are forced to think and act. I put my models under extreme conditions to create pure, real emotion in the footage. The artwork is as endless or as short as the viewer wants; it is as long as they need it to be in order to feel changed.
Doll is a three link chain between the sound, the visuals and most importantly… the viewer. It is about taking a step back from the accusations about social media to realise the true cause of the issues of today’s youth – over sexualised children’s toys. Doll takes quotes from children’s movies out of context, providing an intense environment for the viewer to reconsider their perceptions of the modern world.
Creating the work…Finding a model willing to get cold and wet in a tunnel, who could project the right expression/emotion was the greatest challenge! Creating the music was difficult due to limited equipment. Finding the right settings for the app / phone / headset and getting the format to all work together was complicated as not all formats/equipment are compatible. Filming on location in a tunnel with a camera on a tripod that is balanced on rocks in a river was seriously tricky! I found the whole process interesting, but particularly enjoyed using the new technology. I spent considerable time scouting for suitable filming locations – most of which do not appear in the final art work.
Favourite artist…David Lynch is my favourite artist. I particularly like Eraserhead (one of his more artistic films) and the symbolism he uses to describe parenthood, society and God. (I also really like David Lynch’s hair!!) I admire the way he sustained his creative vision for Eraserhead over many years while raising the funds to finish the film – he knew exactly how he wanted it to be even though sometimes months passed between filming scenes. I like the way Lynch uses music and non-linear storytelling. The viewer is still left to react to the film – not everything is clear.
Ideas behind the work…In this series of ink paintings, I aim to realistically depict scenes of ground warfare in open landscape at night and during the day. The subject matter includes tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles and soldiers in action.
Inspiration…I was inspired by many artists including Hans Holbein the Younger, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Yidong Wang, Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov, Nikolai Blokhin, John Singer Sargent and other similar artists. Blokhin, Sargent and Serov have inspired me with the use of expressive lines to capture movement and personality. Levitan’s composition of landscape paintings and his ink landscape sketches have inspired me to create depth and draw the viewer in. Holbein, Ingres and Wang’s attention to detail, conciseness and rigour in their paintings and drawing have also inspired me to seek intricate detail and perfection.
Creating the work.. I think the hardest part of painting on watercolour paper was how quickly it dried. This forced me to paint as fast as I could to prevent the ink from drying up. It was hard to blend and could leave permanent ugly marks on the paper. Because of this, it was very easy to make mistakes when painting very fast.
Plan ahead and work hard.
Ideas behind the work…When creating this final artwork, I explored the concept of age, as aging is something that affects every living thing. I explored unique and different ways to illustrate that even the smallest and most insignificant things can hold beauty. Typically, most people would completely ignore such aspects of our world, so my idea was to accentuate the individual elements these small entities hold when looking closer. I was interested in exploring photography using different effects, lighting, close up camera angles, and depth of field.
Starting points and influences…I began by focusing on the different aspects of nature, by exploring natural elements both as a whole, and as individual components. I explored landscapes, individual entities, and the interaction between man and nature, which I was able to further develop into Unit 4. I was inspired by a number of artists, in particular those who were intrigued by nature. From this, my artwork slowly developed. There were things that worked, and others that didn’t work so well, however this allowed me to refine my ideas and create my finished works.
Favourite artists…Doug and Mike Starn have the most wonderful and intriguing artwork, which encouraged me to explore nature, and look more closely at details. Their artwork is completely different from anything else I have seen. The way they display their artworks on amazing, delicate Japanese paper, which may be faded, ripped or wrinkled, motivated me to explore the use of different papers on which I could print my final works. Their conceptual approach to photography is what makes their work so unique, and their use of fragmentation and unorthodox presentation makes their work incredibly eye catching. The way their artworks weren’t ‘perfect’ – some were torn or wrinkled – and displayed subject matter that included our natural surroundings, inspired me to take something that we might consider no longer important, and make it into something beautiful and unusual.
Be passionate, and choose a theme that you love. The best artworks are those that have a real meaning to them and have been created by someone who is intrigued by and loves what they are doing. Studio Arts is a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding. It is unlike any other subject, as it allows you to be yourself, and put your heart into your work. Also – never leave work to the last minute, the amount of annotation that will build up is huge, so always annotate and do everything as you go. At the end, it will make handing everything in much easier and less stressful.
Ideas behind the artwork… My identification with Gretel began in her role as the vulnerable female in a traditional Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale. I started to question myself as a vulnerable female – is that what we are? As a contemporary woman, I wasn’t convinced by this shallow definition of her character and I didn’t think anyone else would be. I needed to look beyond the original message and moral of the tale. From a contemporary perspective, I wanted Hansel and Gretel’s roles to be interchangeable. I’ve invented alternative scenarios – the interchangeable heads on the dress – meaning the story can be re-contextualised, including a portrait of Hansel’s face. I was interested in the possible reactions from the audience: for some, seeing a boy in a dress might be an uncomfortable experience, while others might have no problem with it. Why is it a big deal for a boy to be in “girl’s” clothes, and not so much the other way around? Traditional fairy tales tend to celebrate the bravery and virility of the male in contrast with the vulnerability and reliance of the female – the roles are so limiting and constricting, they label without allowing for diversity.
Materials and processes...I projected photographs taken of me onto the paper, using either a light-box or a digital projector. They were a guide to achieve the correct the proportions, to block in light and shadow, much like in traditional camera obscura. The details and tone were added after the projection was removed. Creating drama with the light and shadow was what I wanted to concentrate on. In all portraits, I’ve used soft pastel charcoal, red conte and erasers to rub back into the work, using this reductive method with the highlights and lighter tones. I loved the expressive effect in her hair. I used a sharp edged eraser to rub back into the charcoal, creating the confident lines of strands of hair.
After studying Portuguese-born artist Paula Rego in more depth this year, I’ve really come to respect her and have found myself influenced by her in the way I questioned the relationships between different characters in Hansel & Gretel, as I re-contextualised the story using a 21st century perspective.
Favourite artist…Rego’s works are a social narrative – her series Dog Women, depicting women posed like snarling dogs, completely turns the traditional idea of the innocent, soft-hearted woman on its head. They’re wild, animalistic, reflecting the physical reality of women, rather than the idealised stereotypes from males. As a contemporary viewer, I related her work to the topics important to me, like feminism and equality of the sexes. Her prints and hard, scratchy pastel works are so brilliantly bold and unapologetic, which I’ve come to love and respect. In her Abortion series, she laid down the cold facts of backyard abortions in Portugal, stripping away any misconceptions in her drawings and prints – works that were used as propaganda to encourage the overwhelmingly Catholic country to vote to legalise abortion. It’s clear that powerful women are key in the stories she paints, no matter how she depicts them.
Go to galleries in your own time – my teacher really encouraged this. Just go with friends to a gallery, make it a date, even if you don’t feel the exhibition has any relevance to your work. I found that the things I learnt still benefited my folio, encouraging me to think more deeply about my concept – e.g. Kate Bergin’s exhibition motivated me to keep drawing in my own time, inspired by her animals and quirky contexts. Also, seeing Ryan Gander’s exhibition at ACCA really challenged the whole idea of what art really is and does it really include everyday items pushed around a room on a conveyor belt?
Set a minimum goal of two pages of folio a week – you’ll surpass this easily over time. Listen to your teachers, but also have confidence in your own ideas. I struggled with this, and it pulled me back a lot, not thinking I properly understood my work, losing confidence. If you feel uncertain, research – I found doing this led me to some of the best ideas in my work.
Ideas behind the work…The focus of this piece was to depict the power and beauty of water in the ocean. I was intrigued by the fascinating yet dangerous continuous movement of water, in vortexes and whirlpools – the way that such forms of water seem uncontrollable but are in fact, controlled by Mother Nature. More specifically, I felt the sense of being sucked in, even in viewing images of whirlpools, and I wanted to show that something does not necessarily need to physically move in order for one to feel a sense of movement. This piece was created to emulate the overwhelming feelings of being engulfed and suffocated.
Materials and processes...For Perpetual Motion, the materials I used were recycled polyester curtain fabric. Throughout my experimentation this year, I discovered a different method of fabric manipulation that did not require complex folding and advanced sewing skills – one that required heat. After burning cotton and various silks fabrics such as organza, I decided to use a range of polyesters, one of them recycled curtain fabric. The fabric was thin and transparent dark grey and immediately when it came into contact with the flame it started to melt and ‘evolve’ into a new form. The first process in making my final piece was to create a conical shape by rolling a piece of thick cardboard paper. I used this as a template and adjusted the opening of the cone, making it as wide as possible to emulate opening of a whirlpool/vortex. I then wrapped this in chicken wire, secured it with small bits of soft wire and added several layers of aluminium foil, so that the delicate fabric would not get caught and melted on the wire.
Inspiration…My inspiration came from my surroundings, especially the natural environment. During the planning of my ideas, I went to the beach in the evenings to observe the night scenery and listen to waves crashing on to the rocks. My interest in textiles and fabric manipulation arose from viewing images of haute couture garments crafted by fashion designers, Yiqing Yin and Iris van Herpen. Both Yin and van Herpen’s creations consist of intricate detailed handwork techniques that create pieces that resemble both nature and the man-made. Van Herpen’s use of innovative materials and digital technology to create her beautifully crafted pieces urged me to look beyond the use of basic materials and sewing techniques.
Organise and plan ahead what needs to be done during the week and don’t procrastinate as work can pile up quickly and give youmore stress. Try to annotate as you experiment, as that’s when your thoughts are the clearest and you can make good judgements on what materials and techniques have worked well or not. Try to not think that annotating folios is homework, but rather an activity you can do during your breaks and free time. Although it may be boring and time-consuming, it is really important to reflect on how your experimentation has gone, so that you can try different options and really understand what you want to achieve in your final.
Ideas behind the art…Loom #1 and Loom #3 were part of my Loom print series and the ideas behind both correspond.
The interwoven braids symbolise the confusing complexity of social pressures and expectations that are woven throughout our lives and minds. I wanted the intricate detail and range of tones, with the vast number of interwoven elements, to express this complexity, capturing a sense of psychological entanglement and tension.
I used intaglio printmaking as my process. In this series I etched/engraved into aluminium plates (each plate took five hours!) with a metal burin. I decided not to use an acid bite, as the intricate, detailed lines (the key element of my work) lost their precision in the etching process as the lines deepened. I then placed the paper I was going to print on into a tray full of water to soak.
For Loom #3 I inked the plate up as usual and softly wiped it back from all of the plate.
I then used a cotton tip to softly wipe the ink from the protruding elements of the braid, to add dimension, a range of tones and to bring out this braid image to make it seem more realistic.
I then wiped off the sides and back, preparing for the next step.
With my printing press set up with my registration, an acetate sheet, blankets and appropriate pressure, I lined up my plates. I removed the paper from the soaking tray and blotted off the excess water. It took many trials to attain the right balance between too wet and too dry.
Materials and process…I then carefully lined up the paper, placed it on the acetate, over the inked up plates, put down the blankets and ran it through and back through the printing press. I then carefully lifted the print from the press and placed it on a drying rack.I created a huge number of prints initially to improve upon each effort and eventually to duplicate my works.
Favourite artist…Though I don’t have one sole favourite artist, I am particularly drawn to William Larkin. I love his ability to capture fine details, vast toning and dimension so realistically. I really like works such as Mary, Lady Vere (1615), whose size makes it seem lifelike. It overwhelms the viewer with startling reality and dominance conveying a sense of superiority, wealth and grandeur.
Create art that is true to you; to your personal ideas and your personal visual language. At the start of the year, it’s really important to explore your ideas and your personal visual language. Your technique and style will evolve and improve if you keep on creating art. Keep up to date with folio, it becomes really easy to shrug it off, but doing annotations in real time is vital because you want to capture your mindset so you can see where to go from there and see how your ideas have changed. For Art students – get to know your Frameworks!!!! They are vital and comprise your future folio (and the exam). Keep practising them, get help from your teacher. If you have questions, ask around, ask your teacher and if you have an art technician, ask them!
Commit to it. Stop comparing yourself to the other students. Everyone is doing their own thing; comparing yourself to others is useless and frustrating and doesn’t get you anywhere.
Doing an art subject is extremely daunting, it’s a huge amount of work and quite an emotional roller coaster. Through all the chaos and stress is also excitement and joy…those turning points when you have no idea what is happening, and then suddenly you have an idea and everything makes sense and you feel like you finally are going in a beneficial direction. Seeing your final result, being proud of all of your work and doing what you love, makes it completely worth it.
Don’t worry, at points everyone feels lost and frustrated, you are definitely not alone, but you will find your way and have the best time.
Ideas behind the work…When walking along Swanson Street looking for visual references for another one of my final pieces, I noticed a homeless man cradling his body in a foetal position, surrounded by the few possessions he owned. What caught my attention was the sense of overwhelming vulnerability as the man was hiding his face and somehow anonymous to the world around him. I sat and watched as people walked by; most not even looking down to see him, and thought “Wow, in a world that has great capacity for compassion, kindness and generosity, why do some people drop through the cracks?” I realised that the vulnerability of homelessness wasn’t something that we noticed as a society. Watching people unconsciously move around him triggered the inspiration for Forecast Deprivation. Through my art I wanted to have people notice, feel and hopefully change the way they view homelessness. I decided to film myself as this man to show that anyone can become homeless. Where once I was the person who would have walked around the man, I became the man. Manipulating space, I placed the projection of me in a doorway so that people could no longer walk around homelessness without thought and were forced to confront the discomfort of walking through and over someone that appeared so vulnerable. This interaction allowed me to establish a relationship with the viewer prompting an emotional connection; challenge comfort zones, and to create a shift in perspective about homelessness.
Starting point and influences…When on a Studio Arts excursion, the class gathered around a drawing placed on the floor at the NGV, making sure that we didn’t touch it – because we thought that was the convention in the Gallery. However the curator explained that this piece was on the ground because the artist wanted us to walk on it. The artist’s objective was that by walking on it, we would be able to explore new perspectives and details of the piece that we may have missed when looking at the work from only one angle. I was so shocked as this made me feel like I was doing something wrong, something that I wasn’t allowed to do. All the class cautiously stepped on the drawing, laughing awkwardly when doing so and this made me think how powerful this moment was. We all felt out of our comfort zone because we had never done something like this, but maybe the things we fear, are those things we haven’t yet experienced ? A connection between how I felt and the feelings I want a viewer to feel within Forecast Deprivation were established in my head. If I felt so uncomfortable walking over the piece at the NGV, how uncomfortable would I feel if it was a person that I would have to walk over?
Favourite artist…Jonathan Auch, who is well known for photographic images that convey stories and give insights into people , inspires me. Specialising in photography and videography, Auch is renowned for his monochromatic tones and bold shadows, highlights and contrast. He leaves the interpretation of the photographs to the viewer. “It’s easy to miss something your not looking for.” says Auch (which connects to my theme). Auch takes his photos/videos on the streets of New York with stories that capture political, cultural and emotional isolation, alienation, loneliness, racism and discrimination. Exploring the emotions and identity of everyday humans and representing who we are through storytelling, really resonated with me.
I would advise students undertaking VCE Studio Arts and VCE Art to follow your passions, even though it sounds cliché. A teacher told me that “When you connect your head and your heart, you tap into your true identity, your true self.” By doing this, I have exposed what I really feel moved by in my work. So find something that you love and that you feel passionate about because when you do, your folio and final pieces don’t feel like a chore but more a chance to explore your passion and create from those ideas.
I also advise to set aside time each night to work on your folio or your final pieces. The beauty of these subjects is that you can play your favourite music and get lost in your work: hours pass by and you won’t even notice. For me, Studio Art was a means of adventuring through ideas. Feed off others in your class, bounce concepts and thoughts off them: others could have different insights or views into your idea that you may not have thought of.
Ideas behind the work…The underlying concept which forms the basis of this work is derived from the idea of ‘MEet YOUr mEAT’. Using carcasses as the subject matter, the work explores the idea that when a human being consumes ‘meat’, they also ingest the animal’s energy of fear, terror and trauma. The distressing subject matter and composition mirrors the disturbing idea of consuming another being.
Favourite artist...I am drawn to the work of Banksy, best known for his dark humour in graffiti works with significant messages about philosophy and politics. Very little is known about the artist’s personal identity, as he maintains his privacy rigorously. Banksy has risen over time to become one of the world most regarded street artists. I am drawn to the way Banksy’s striking images bring awareness and present thought provoking views on war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed. Banksy is aware of the power his work holds and the messages it conveys. He has been quoted as saying,” As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there.”
My advice to students undertaking their own creative journey is: choose to explore a passion or belief, a subject that will drive you to explore new depths; a concept which will feed paint to the canvas of your soul – so you will grow as an artist. Delve within your depths, immerse your whole being in your work, then will you achieve a ‘masterpiece’. Not everyone will admire and understand your art – everyone has their own perceptions and interpretations based upon their own beliefs and frame of mind and you must simply accept this. Finally, there will be times when you become stuck, and feel as though you are not moving forward in your artwork. As a student, you will be pushed by time to continue forward, but as an artist, you can only wait until the next epiphany manifests within your thoughts.
I leave you with this for your own interpretation:
The energy you give is the energy that you will receive.
Ideas behind the art…Weeping Woman after Picasso is my way of paying homage to Picasso and his paintings making a political statement against terrorism. Appropriating Picasso’s Weeping Woman, I recreated the fear and sadness reflected in the woman’s expression on a live model. This allowed me to take the two-dimensional painting and make it three-dimensional. By photographing the model I was able to then return it back to a two-dimensional form. Weeping Woman painted in Picasso’s signature style, depicts a woman wailing, showing intense emotion, torment and fear at the loss of innocents and the suffering of the people of Guernica. The woman depicted in Picasso’s painting is his partner, Dora Maar. Her expression depicts not only her emotions but also reflects Picasso’s own feelings and fears. Distorting her beautiful face, expresses the ugly truth of helplessness in not being able to save those who lost their lives in the bombing of Guernica. I am highlighting the fact that we are still weeping for the loss of innocents with the many atrocities still happening today. I painted the model with acid green and purple to create unease, much like Picasso, capturing the fleeting moments when fear flickers in the eyes, the body contorts and the expression is tortured.
Creating the work…The most challenging part of creating this image was mapping the two-dimensional painting and recreating it on the three-dimensional surface/canvas, of the model’s face. I also had to keep in mind the model’s comfort – providing rest stops and sustenance throughout the six hour process of painting. Due to the model being my younger sister I also had to keep her occupied with entertainment, so that I could finish the painting.
Favourite artist…Throughout this year I have been inspired by photographer, Cindy Sherman and her personal, contemporary images. Cindy Sherman works alone and uses makeup, prosthetics, costumes and props to change her identity and persona. The vulnerability reflected in the eyes in images, such as Untitled #96 and Untitled #402 evokes a sense of unease and a connection with the viewer. Sherman inspired me to try to capture the fearful and sorrowful emotions in the eyes of my subjects.
I would suggest researching and choosing a subject that you are passionate about to help sustain your enthusiasm throughout the year. A topic with a broad meaning that can be explored in many mediums will give you greater opportunities to develop a range of potential directions, when studying Studio Arts. The more potential directions you have the more choices you will have for deciding the style, medium and aesthetic you desire when creating your final artwork for unit 4.
Documenting all of your experimentation and making sure to photograph the process is very important for your folio. All the stress and anxiety caused from leaving the documentation too long is not worth it, so make sure to document and annotate along the way. I found that videoing the production and uploading it to my VCE YouTube channel, using QR codes was a great way to not only authenticate the process but also a new and interesting way to document my work.
I made the mistake of trying to perfect my folio and procrastinated while trying to find the style in which I wanted to present the work. This is the opposite of what a folio is meant to be used for. The folio is meant to contain rough ideas, notes, sketches and research that will help you when creating your final artwork. It is not meant to be a stressful and traumatic experience left till the end of Unit Keeping on top of your work and having fun while creating work you love, will definitely help alleviate the extra anxiety and stress that comes with Year 12.
Ideas behind the work…By keeping the figures in the realm of anonymity and bringing the hair to life I have endeavoured to present this part of the human body as the alternative voice of identity, while revealing its continuing significance in the 21st century. 18th century French powdered wigs – an excessive fashion that flaunted wealth and prestige – inspired my artwork with the underlying message that hair tells a story of its own. My work looks at hair in a past and present context, comparing the maintenance of 18th C wigs to that required for a contemporary Mohawk, and commenting on the minimal change. Both hairstyles are deemed extreme. Each captures a different aspect: hair as a marker of social class; and hair as a medium of self-expression exposing a non conformist outlook. Although it is based on research and my own interpretation, the title of my artwork intends to actively invite audiences to give their own explanation of the figures’ identity based purely on the hair I have created. I would like to show audiences that observation can often reveal more than one thinks.
Starting point and inspiration…Initially I was intrigued with hair from a biological perspective: how hair varied from person to person, by colour, length and texture. In city as multicultural as Melbourne I was constantly fascinated with the diversity of hair. I started to build on this interest by thinking about the different factors which might influence the way someone presents their hair, such as religion. Once I started researching more deeply I discovered the full significance surrounding hair and several examples in history that supported its power. I was interested in the totalitarian Communist regime still present today in China and how its close grip on the Chinese people succeeds in silencing any form of anti-government sentiment. This recurring notion of suppression – also evident in the marginalisation of women in conservative societies around the world – was at core of my artwork. If a voice is taken away then what else can speak for that person: my answer was hair. Figures like Marie Antoinette and people who express their experimental and daring nature through their hair became embodied in my artwork.
Favourite artist…I only discovered the work of Ai Weiwei late last year, but I have been mesmerised by the boundary pushing and confronting nature of his artwork. His work challenges and conveys messages critiquing the censorship and politics of Chinese society, which I find very bold and powerful – as I feel strongly about many of the issues. I wanted to create an artwork that was similarly powerful in meaning and confronting in appearance.
No matter how absurd or strange your idea seems don’t be discouraged by it or by the potential opinions of others – it’s likely that your idea will be the spark of a very unique and extraordinary artwork. It’s much more beneficial and (more importantly) fun, to create artworks which draw on your interests or passions. Throughout the developmental process continue to nourish the ideas, themes or topics that you are interested in through research as it will allow you to expand your thoughts and even discover something that triggers a ‘light bulb’ moment for your artworks. The subjects which form your VCE do not stand entirely alone. There are interconnections between them and I recommend using these. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community – you may be surprised with how much they can help you – and experiment with a range of materials. I would suggest that taking progress images is a handy tool because it provides insight into the processes and techniques that are unique to your artworks.
Ideas behind the work…Journey’s end explores the idea of contentment and inner peace achieved after overcoming an episode of adversity or intense hardship. It is based around the benefits of conquering adversity and how this can impact someone’s life. The ideas of contentment and peace are explored through the expression on the subject’s face and the use colour in the work, with the greens and yellows of the background symbolising optimism and peace, and the blue of the shirt symbolising strength, with optimism being emphasised by the subject looking up and out ‘into the future’.
Challenges and process…I found it very challenging to capture my own likeness in a way that satisfied me. I see myself every day so I was naturally very particular about how I made myself look. It took a lot of hours and several attempts to get the likeness to a place where I was happy with it.
I found it most interesting to create the different tones I required. I only have a small set of pastels, so my selection of tones is quite limited, which meant that I had to combine and blend tones together in order to create the different colours I needed (for example the darkest shadows on the face, which required a combination of brown, black and dark purple to achieve the perfect tone). I found it interesting and exciting to find which colours I had to mix to get the perfect combination , which was always a fun part of the process.
Favourite artist…In the medium I worked in this year (Pastel -realism) my favourite artist is Jill Shalless. Shalless is a local Geelong artist who works predominantly with pastels and oil paint. She produces some stunning images that exhibit both her technical and creative skill. I have been lucky enough to be mentored by Jill in the past year, and have learned a lot about the pastel medium. I really admire her skill and control with materials. She is also very kind and always willing to share her knowledge and techniques, which is why I respect her so much as an artist and teacher.
My advice to Art and Studio Arts students would be to not over-stretch yourself and to work with what you love. Keep your goals realistic in what you want to achieve throughout the year in terms of the volume of your work – don’t plan to do more than you think you’re capable of. But in saying that, don’t restrict yourself because someone else says you might not be able to get it done. If you know you have the skills and capabilities to achieve your goals in this subject, I say go for it. Work on something you will enjoy working on. Choose a medium you enjoy and are comfortable with, and if you’re passionate about it, work your guts out and get it done to the best possible standard. Who, knows, you might even surprise yourself with what you’re able to create, I know I did. Never play it safe, but don’t stretch yourself too far. Know your limits and work to them as hard and as best you can. Overall, have fun with it and produce work you’re proud of.
Ideas behind the work…That is me; Him is the product of my own experiences with the familiar facets of contemporary life; the comfortable, sometimes banal places, feelings and physical journeys we embark on and endure every day which unite us as human beings. In many ways these seemingly insignificant, shared motions contribute to the connectedness of the world; of humans, and to the formation of our identity. They also represent our metaphorical journeys through life; the difficulty of personhood, of love, and fulfilment. A journey which is sometimes hard to navigate, and the plight, somewhat purposeless, in the shadows of darkness; of dejection. Though we may feel at complete odds with those we pass, those beside us, those before us, our experience is universal, we are united by our individuality, by emotional connection, and by the very routes we take each morning, each afternoon, side by side.
What is this person doing? What are they thinking…feeling? What is the activity that defines this person? If I were doing that activity that person would be me. If I were wandering down that street, travelling that train, lying on that bed, that person could be me. That could be me. That is me. What is it that separates any of us?
These are the questions I was inspired to ask by American poet Walt Whitman, and the questions I encourage viewers to ask in looking at my artworks.
Creating the work…I found ensuring that I had the right dimensions and proportions the most challenging part in creating these paintings. This was primarily because I wanted to achieve a hyper realistic painting which required accurate spacing and sizing of each shape and form in the pieces, especially in regard to the figure and facial structure. The most interesting and intriguing part was being able to watch the person and experience come to life as I continued to spread and layer colour onto the weathered plywood. They truly came to life with the final details such as the reflections in the windows and the bench seat fabric which is so iconic to Melbourne. Adding these details was challenging, and required great attention, patience and concentration.
Beyond the physical challenges and interesting points of creating this series were the psychological experiences involved in the process. At times my mind would melt away into a painting trance – completely unaware of the outside world, or the subject matter – focused solely on the strokes and colour. At other times I became one with the painting, imagining myself in that seat. The process also struck a chord, as the figure has a varying, yet ever important presence in my life which evoked an emotional response in many of my painting sessions.
Favourite artist…Rick Amor is my favourite artist at the moment. I admire his honesty in depicting the world around him. I admire his style and look up to him as a fellow oil painter. We have a similar technique, and much of mine has been influenced by his work.
It is tirelessly frustrating, and a continual self-sacrifice to be the artist you would like to be – but at the end of the day, at the completion of a work, it is rewarding and worth it. Be your own critic and don’t take to heart the negative opinions of others. Art is an incredibly personal experience You have to have confidence in your own work and not worry about what others may like or not like. Develop and pursue your own individual style.
And read the fine print on the exam carefully.
Ideas behind the art…“BE CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF”
Inspiration...I am immediately drawn to any art about the female experience. I am inspired by Prue Stent, Isabella Connelley and Bethan Mooney, who all have a similar aesthetic that I have a strong affinity with.They’re Melbourne artists. My friends inspire me, especially those who are artists, because they offer different techniques and view points. I love Australian culture in all its tacky weirdness, so I’m beginning to draw a lot more inspiration from that. Musicians such as Japanese Wallpaper, Grimes, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire all create floaty music that I love to listen to. Studio Ghibli films are technically beautiful, with that dreamy aesthetic that I’m drawn to. Their use of strong female role models is really inspiring. As are media platforms that show diverse female roles. Magazines like Frankie introduced me to heaps of female artists when I first began making art.
Influences…I began this work exploring the idea of Australian culture in relation to women. However, over time the work became more personal and about the social and cultural pressures I felt this year – and my agitated mindset as I finished high school and came to the end of my adolescence. I began to see connections between adolescence, womanhood and identity. Taking excerpts from my own diaries and notes, I wanted to document the judgements, questions and memorable moments that occurred in supposedly “the best year of our lives”. By the time we come to the end of our adolescence we have changed many times, each faster and faster. I saw this diary as a way to look at who I am and who I am becoming as a young woman influenced by Australian culture.
Don’t wait for someone to tell you to go, trust yourself in everything you do and be passionate in your art and what you make art about. Especially in Year 12, time management is so important. Not waiting for your teacher to move you along will make everything a lot easier. Be prepared to give time to your work (without losing yourself), because it will all pay off in the long run. Work in partnership with your teacher. Be open to their suggestions but always be confident in yourself and what you want to do. Never worry too much about what your friends or family think of your work. You’re the one making it and so in the end you’re the one who should be happy with what you’ve achieved. Ultimately, just have fun and be passionate in what you are making. Find something that inspires you and just roll with it. It will make the whole year so much more enjoyable and less stressful.
Ideas behind the work...Effectively, I wanted to explore the concept of Sonder through photography, creating emotionally evocative images with people with which the viewer can relate and identify. Furthermore, I wanted these connections to urge the viewer to see these people they don’t know not as “strangers” but as people who are just like them, with aspirations, feelings and a complex identity. I want to urge the viewer to alter their perceptions of the people around them and start asking questions about the people we consider “extras” in our lives: “who are they?” “Where are they going?” “What do they like?” “What do they dream about?”.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed………..
Inspiration…The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger has inspired me through my art. I admire the way that the protagonist, Holden Caulfield observes the world and the people in it, naively and insightfully, noticing things about people that usually remain unnoticed, questioning his existence and that of those he was surrounded by. Holden Caulfield wanders aimlessly around NYC at night, observing life wherever he goes, I wanted an observational approach to my photography and a raw, unembellished view of life and human emotion.
That brings me to another of my inspirations: Robert Frank. Robert Frank is a modernist photographer who, in the late 1960’s, travelled around America capturing images of all the people in it. He did this to challenge the ideas of the American Dream that were prevalent in Post-War America, questioning the concept of national identity, and displayed a series of diverse images which explore concepts of normality, belonging, mortality, segregation, identity, youth, the elderly and minority groups. I like how he viewed the world through the eyes of an observer and captured accurate images of the reality of post- war America, in contrast to the glamourised images that were prevalent in commercial photography at the time.
Influences…After having read many books on street photography and viewing the works of street photographers such as Robert Frank, Andreas Gursky, Hans Eijkelboom, Nick Turpin and Yasmine Chatila, I decided to take a “street” approach to photography, Wikipedia describes street photography as “photography that features the chance encounters and random accidents within public places.” I think this spontaneous method suited the ideas and meanings that I wanted to capture through photography, so I started there. It took a few nights out to gain confidence as a street photographer, but I found that generally, people were happy to have their photo taken and were usually curious about the type of photography that I was doing.
Keep your folio in the same way that you would keep a diary. It is important that you be disciplined and write every time you make a mistake, improvement, have a revelation, idea or bump in the road. It is essential that you are honest in your visual diary and keep track of your emotions in order to utilise them to create meaningful pieces of work.
Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new: use digital photography or film even if you’re not familiar with it; learn how to use water colours or Photoshop; ask strangers if you can take their pictures. Studio Arts Units 3 and 4 is a very individual artistic journey and it is essential that you allow yourself to evolve and change and take different paths in order to achieve success.
Finally, choose your own adventure.
Ideas behind the work…Series Two explores the multifaceted concept of ‘vulnerability’ through my self-portraits: Fractured and Unseen, juxtaposed with the portrait of my brother James. My intention was to create a visual narrative and dynamic tension between the three photographic inkjet prints and to capture the unconscious, emotionally fraught process of self-identification – a vulnerable time that too often amplifies the differences and marginalises the similarities between siblings. The dark convergence of Unseen generates an emotional knot, binding tautly the two very contained and confronting forthright stares of brother and sister.
For me, self-portraiture is a conscious autobiographical act – a visual documentation of temporal physiological being – as well as a juncture for scrupulous and vulnerable self-identification and self-reflection. Self-portraiture offers opportunity to experiment unhindered by other’s availability, judgement and vanity. It offers control of the decisive moment that is captured, as Richard Avedon professed, “art is about control – the encounter between control and the uncontrollable.” However, self-portraiture also requires vulnerability and an acceptance of spontaneity. Without someone directing you to tilt your chin up and right, you are forced to rely on your instincts and internal vision. Yet, this is the gift of self-portraiture – insight into one’s self.
Starting point and influences…As a dancer, I have been learning all my life how to slip on a mask; how to visually articulate my story; how not only to act, but rather to be. The masks make me feel safer and stronger, obliterating my vulnerability. Yet, as soon as the dance is over, the quasi-metaphysical connection is broken. I am left shocked and alone, confused about who I am, and who I’m supposed to be.
Garnering the courage to be authentic and true to myself, I explored in my Design Process the interpretative connection born from the relationship between the subject and the artist – a relationship that calls for vulnerability on both sides. In particular, my concentration was on the face, as I find, this aspect of the human form the most compelling. The face is a complex construction of identity that reflects its society at any given point, which, beyond the permanent physiognomy of the features, allows humans to communicate in a way that verbal language cannot. As the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “A man’s face… is a compendium of everything his mouth will ever say, in that it is the monogram of all this man’s thoughts and aspirations.”
Inspiration…Richard Avedon’s photography never ceases to astound me, and it is perhaps he who can explain most elegantly what I find so fascinating about his portrait photography – “A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion.” For me, this phrase captures the dynamic relationships contained within Avedon’s photographs. It captures the rawness and tenderness of the subject, and the personal character of “individuals extraordinary in their uniqueness and united in their shared experience of humanity” This conceptualisation that art is simply an interpretation of the truth, holds true in the realm of dance. Both a visual and auditory feast, dance is a holistic experience. Without fail, I am simultaneously exhilarated and inspired by every performance of The Australian Ballet. The precise, synchronised footwork of the corps de ballet, coupled with magnificent sets, and the awe-inspiring principle artists is breathtaking. However, I am also equally inspired by the ephemerality of dance. “[Dance] gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to… hang in museums… nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” – American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
There are three things that I feel are integral to success in both VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts. Firstly, do not underestimate yourself. Secondly, see things through to the end. Thirdly, be passionate.
Success takes time, effort and perseverance – it does not happen overnight without pain, sweat and tears. You cannot expect to be able to ‘just do it’ without putting in the legwork. The best thing you can do for yourself, as a VCE student, is to not underestimate yourself – give your talents time to blossom and flourish. You must not let yourself be swayed or your talent be put down by others – you must maintain passion and commitment to push through what I call the ‘ugly’ stage before you can achieve great feats. Remember, without passion and emotional investment, even the most technically brilliant painting, is simply just a painting.
Ideas behind the artwork…In this sculptural piece I attempted to communicate the melancholy, dreamy emotions which underlie our memories of childhood. In the artwork, the nostalgic subject matter of an old rocking horse and enchanting pine forest seen inside the marbles captures the joy and wonder of childhood. Meanwhile, the low-key lighting, and monochromatic colour scheme combine to create an ominous, ghostly aesthetic, introducing an element of poignancy and sadness to the otherwise dreamy image. They communicate the sorrow we often feel when contemplating the past – even when reflecting upon sunny, joyful memories. The feelings of bitter-sweet nostalgia are further enhanced in the final presentation of the prints inside little resin spheres, flowing out from a small linen pouch. The delicate resin balls resemble glass marbles – further linking this artwork to childhood and the emotions which reside in our memories of it.
Materials and process…To create this sculptural piece I first conducted two photoshoots using a Nikon D90 – one at a pine forest near Wonthaggi, the other indoors using directional tungsten lights. In both shoots I aimed to create chiaroscuro images with an ominous, spectral appearance. This was achieved through manually adjusting the aperture and shutter speed to create correctly exposed, yet mysterious, low-key photographs. I then edited these with Photoshop. Using the “vibrance” and “curves” adjustment tools I desaturated both images, further enhancing the eerie aesthetic. I then lowered the opacity of each image to create a ghostly, transparent image combining both photographs. I then cut the image out using the ellipses tool and proceeded to print the image onto transparency paper. Next, I created the resin marbles. This was a very time consuming exercise, involving mixing the resin liquids, immersing the prints and setting the domes for 6 hours. Once I had 20 domes I proceeded to glue them together to create spheres, which I then then coated with several more coats of resin to create a lustrous shine. Next, I sewed a little linen pouch which I placed on a lightbox with the resin marbles, completing the artwork.
Inspiration…I am inspired by storytellers. The ability to tell a story and evoke powerful emotions within an audience is, to me, a fantastic skill. For this reason, film and photography are the primary sources of inspiration for me and my art, as each medium is able to tell rich and complex stories in a visceral and visual way which is accessible to all audiences. I particularly love visiting the NGV and ACMI’s film and photography exhibitions. Last year I visited Alex Prager’s exhibition at the NGV and loved it – the short films each conveying intriguing little narratives in an engaging, whimsical manner which was totally captivating. Moreover, I also have a great interest in literature, and I often find the ideas that I come across when reading frequently end up shaping the concepts and emotions explored in my artworks.
One piece of advice that I would have loved to have heard when I started Year 12 VCE Studio Arts is: use your time wisely. Year 12 can be an incredibly hectic year and if you are not careful, you can let certain subjects slip. As Studio Arts doesn’t have any SACs to keep you on your toes it is highly important to maintain a strict schedule to ensure you finish all of your works on time and at the desired standard. Make a calendar or diary early in the year to set a time frame on your SAT 2 artworks to ensure you aren’t being overly ambitious with your pieces. That being said, you do have quite a lot of time to spend on this folio and if you spend your time wisely you will definitely be able to create some wonderful finished artworks. For me, working hard on my folio in the holidays was a huge help, as I was able to finish all of the time consuming photo shoots and other work I couldn’t undertake in class, enabling me to use my time in class to ask questions and receive help rather than doing the work I could have done at home.
Ideas behind the work…As a child I could pick up on the details in nature others failed to take in, becoming lost within the world that the detail created within my mind. This artwork was to recreate my unique perception, giving my audience a chance to experience the visual sensations I observe when becoming lost within nature and its detail. I wanted to express it in minute detail on a large scale, because that’s what best portrayed my experience.
Inspiration…Artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Del Kathryn Barton have been very inspirational to me due to the amount of effort and intricate detail in their artworks. Furthermore, social media sites such as Tumblr and Instagram led me to discover many unknown and talented artists that influenced my artworks and encouraged me. Nature itself, and philosophies of nature also inspired me heavily: the connection that the human body has with nature. When we look at the minute details on our body, they are so similar to the patterns and details in nature. Beyoncé also kept me sane.
Starting point and influences…I have always been fascinated by nature and theories behind it (e.g. each atom holds another universe). I began looking at images that inspired me and artworks that had aesthetic qualities similar to nature. I selected eighteen artists who I felt captured the qualities I was looking for and wrote about them and what I liked. This started the creative process for me.
Annotate as you go! Annotation can help dramatically with creativity and sorting out problems that occur during the process of creating your art. Laying it out in your folio not only gives you more marks but actually helps with your process! Don’t put anything off as the work load can become easily overwhelming. It’s okay to ask your teacher for help, that’s what they are there for. Choose a theme that you are interested in, that lights a flame/passion inside you, because at times you may struggle to keep it alight. Have fun and remember it’s okay to cry and be confused, frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s normal, make art out of it, if you must.
Ideas behind the artwork…In this polyptych, I’ve explored age as a state of mind that has the ability to defy and contradict one’s external, physical and perceived age. In this particular drawing I’ve depicted youth as a state of mind that strengthens and purifies as one grows older. When we are young we can be oblivious and ignorant – which can be seen in the initial orientations and bloom in the cycle of the figure – but as we get older we can interpret our experiences to create a certain state of mind for ourselves – which is resolved in the final orientations and stark contrast between the light and the rotting body. Internal, spiritual age and physical age are contrasted in their respective permanency and impermanency. Although people get older and eventually die, their souls live on eternally in their strength.
Inspirations…Many things inspire me; from relationships, to music, to moods I fall into when I’m sad, happy or surrounded by certain lighting and scenery, to hearing about people’s experiences and ideas about society which contribute to my own understanding. Music especially is a significant inspiration for me, as it creates an atmosphere which fuels my creative process. The musicians that have provided me the greatest amount of inspiration in sustaining moods for creating are The Smiths, Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire, The Antlers and Cat Power. I’ve also been inspired by many art styles and artists, even those whose styles I don’t necessarily seek to emulate in my own work, such as the Fauvists, Impressionists, Surrealists and Renaissance artists, simply because I enjoy them so much. Renaissance art was the first type of art I really learned about and was inspired by; as a child the realism and the combination of mythology and religious devotion struck me. Modern art also inspires me to think more conceptually about how I approach my own art making. Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo are favourites of mine, because of their exceptional creativity and dedication.
Favourite artist...I think my favourite artist at the moment is Frida Kahlo. I really admire her personal strength despite the seemingly constant challenges and hardships within her life, and the way she was able to convey that in her artworks as well as her own suffering. I also think Kahlo is a great role model for all women, for defying gender roles, being open with her sexuality, her political stance, embracing her indigenous heritage and overall being her own person. I think as I learn more about her I also incorporate elements of her style into my own because I find that I kind of have a similar philosophy to her in creating art. For me, using surrealist imagery isn’t necessarily about tapping into the subconscious or creating an interesting and provocative artwork that’s controversial; I use surrealism as a means to translate the thoughts, feelings and ideas that develop from the events, people, relationships and other experiences within my life.
To students currently undertaking VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts, I would say: don’t neglect your folio! Yes, it may seem like a task that requires constant attention, but if you do it all in the last couple of weeks before it is due then you will have an undesirable amount of stress. Be organised and also be honest with yourself about how much work you can get done. Don’t spend too much time on decorating and making your folio look pretty when you should be annotating or completing your potential directions. Be smart, prioritise and be honest.
Ideas behind the work…Inspired by my study of psychology and my love of the natural world, my folio explores human behavior and organic life. My aim was to visually represent elements of these subjects through colour and pattern. Agar Plates focuses on the inherent beauty of living organisms and the elaborate colours and patterns within them, which can often be difficult to see with the naked eye. My choice of materials and techniques reflect the nature of emotions and reflexes experienced in human behaviour. Watered down gouache is difficult to control and manipulate, similar to reflexes and emotions.
The use of a scientific aesthetic is important to my work and is reflected in the motif of a circle. The repeated use of the circle suggests the rounded view seen through a microscope. Scientists often use microscopes to identify patterns that cannot normally be seen. My aim was to make these patterns in nature apparent and for their beauty to be appreciated. Sometimes we must purposefully make an effort to recognize the remarkable features of organic life; the repetition and pattern of delicate line work and the subtle and wonderful colour combinations that nature provides. Overall, the work emphasises my interest and the interaction that exists between art and science.
Creating the work…It took me a long time to discover the different effects between hot and cold pressed papers. It was very frustrating at the start as I would be striving for a particular effect and would not be able to achieve it. However I gradually refined the materials and techniques to gain a certain level of control over what I was after. I gradually learnt to accept that what happened, even though it may not have been what I expected, could still be incredibly beautiful.
Accepting the limited control I had was very difficult. The immediacy of the process and its unpredictability, challenged my pre-conceived ideas of how things would turn out and also challenged my love of controlled fine detail that I often produced in my drawings. In a way though, control and experimentation are both important elements of artistic expression and scientific discovery. Controlling what I could and accepting the results of what I couldn’t control – made the process like a science experiment and also like life in general.
The most repetitive challenge I had was actually cutting the circles out. It took me the best part of a day to just cut out the circles from the large sheet of A1 paper that I painted them onto. My hand ached after that!
Favourite artist...Egon Schiele is by far my favourite artist. I love his line drawings, with the emotive black lines confidently drawn in one gesture across the page. His line work is strong and dominating yet quite detailed at the same time. His pairing of paints and colour with the strong line creates an interesting aesthetic… as if they are almost unfinished, however if there was any more colour on them they would be overworked. The balance Schiele achieves between the line work and small patches of colour is what I admire in his works.
I am also greatly inspired by the works of Shahzia Sikander. I am inspired by her use of detail and intricacy. Her works are developed with many layers. Sikander employs the use of unusual yet strikingly beautiful colour combinations that one would not commonly pair, which greatly inspired my placement of colour. She also works with pattern, using simple shapes such as dots, that she repeats uniformly across her compositions. Her layering and patterning were inspirations for my folio work. One of the main conceptual links between Sikander’s work and my own is the juxtaposition of opposing elements: Sikander pairs the aesthetics of contemporary and traditional styles whilst I combine the aesthetics of art and science.
Spend time on your folio everyday. Every night I would spend around an hour on my folio; doing so helped me to avoid stressful catch-ups when due dates approached. I never saw my folio as homework, but as a time for relaxation and enjoyment. I would spend time on my folio when I was stressed or very busy as it allowed me to do something that I absolutely love, so it was no longer homework.
I found that it was very important, however, that when I found art frustrating because nothing was working to take a break from my folio and do work on other subjects instead. I wanted to keep art as something I loved and enjoyed, not a task or a job that I ‘had to do’.
Everyone always says ‘annotate as you go’. I didn’t want to make annotations something that I dreaded, or something to avoid, so I annotated when I was in the right head space. I tried to annotate exactly what I thought and how I felt about the artwork or images I had glued into my book; therefore it became enjoyable and something I would sometimes even look forward to doing, particularly if I had hit a roadblock with my design process.
Ideas behind the artwork…This piece focused particularly on scale in order to create a impressive sculpture to draw in the audience’s attention. This piece aims to encourage viewers to look more deeply into nature by taking the organic forms and natural tones out of their usual context and placing them in the gallery space. The hanging of the piece represents the same suspension the branch would have if hanging from a tree, allowing for slight movement and able to be viewed from every angle. In order to truly encourage the idea of exposing the beauty in nature I decided to create multiple rings of exposed oak by removing the top layer of bark. I did this in a symmetrical fashion on both branches in order to maintain the balance which is consistent across the piece.
Challenges in creating the work…Being a large-scale sculpture, the most challenging aspect of the piece was constructing it so that it would not break due to its weight or broad structure. To make sure this didn’t happen I had to consider various methods to support the piece such as a metal pole through the middle of the rock that would also sit in the edges of the branches, or by grinding holes into the rock that perfectly fitted the size of the edges of the branches. During the hanging of the piece, other elements such as the rope had to be adjusted in order to present the piece safely. Two more ropes were attached in order to remove high amounts of stress from the original ropes, and also to prevent the piece from rotating too much in the gallery space. I found it interesting how it was almost impossible to predict issues such as this without physically doing them.
Inspiration… I believe that our surroundings are crucial for our creativity to flourish and to motivate further exploration and development of ideas. I find my inspiration in experience, not often in individual things but instead in individual moments. Inspiration develops from past experience, thoughts, and emotions that we are able to connect with current experiences or things. Almost everything we do and everything we see has the potential to encourage us to harness our creativity. I find a lot of my current work to be motivated by the natural world. It is here, submerged in organic and unstructured surroundings, that I find I am most inspired.
I would encourage students to learn as many new skills as they can through experience, even if the final is as simple as grey lead on paper, I would encourage them to experiment with various mediums and techniques because although in the end this may not be the path they chose to follow, it encourages them to learn and show interest in a variety of art techniques rather than just restricting themselves to one. For example, I originally had planned to do drawing for my Year 12 VCE Studio Arts finals however across Year 11 and the beginning of Year 12 I involved myself in other processes including glass slumping, clay sculpture and painting which allowed me to find out that I really enjoy the 3 dimensional aspect of sculpture.
Ideas behind the work…
What a time to be alive.
This piece, called What a Time to be Alive, comments on today’s society and the trends blindly followed by the greater population in the hope that they will be accepted and appreciated. I wanted to create something satirical – a three dimensional, light-hearted representation of the issues of the 21st century -that was obnoxious and fun but also made viewers question the possible background meanings. Paris Hilton’s infamous face has been Photoshopped onto the Virgin Mary; highly ironic – as she could not be further in character from this historical and religious figure. Today’s celebrities are considered to be ‘goddesses’ or ‘gods’ to be looked up to.
Charlie was produced under the theme of ‘Human Expression.’ I followed this theme throughout Studio Art. It allowed me to explore portraiture; something I love looking at and creating. Charlie was done on a large scale for emphasis and to have viewers recognise all of the minute details on the surface of the human skin, including impurities and insecurities. I chose an older man as my subject because he looked as if he had lived life, shown through his weathered and humble exterior.
Starting point and influences…What a time to be alive started with copious amounts of researching, gathering inspiration and experimenting with many different media and materials. I took great inspiration from Reg Mombassa (Mambo) in colour application, satire, humour and aesthetics in general. Mambo’s artworks influenced me to make light-hearted commentaries on current issues – political or social – and turn them into artworks that engage and entertain an audience.
I have many favourite artists but currently the few I love the most are Melissa Grisancich, Kyler Martz, the people behind Monster Children magazine, and Barry McGee. These artists would also be in the category of People I Admire. They all have a distinct style and visual language that makes their work recognisable as their own. I admire artists and people creating their own artistic trends and pieces, introducing new design and art into an evolving world.
I would have to say that time allocation and management is the most important thing in your VCE Art and/or Studio Art studies. If you create priorities and figure out which work needs to get done first, whether it is folio work or working on a final piece, you will always remain on task.
Another thing I would have to say is – take naps. If you feel like a nap and are a bit sleepy, have a little snooze, it will refresh you and is healthy with all the unnecessary stress of the year.
Another important thing is to choose a topic you are really interested in; one which will allow you to explore a variety of things so you don’t get bored, or hit a dead end or not know where to take your work to next.
Ideas behind the art…Each part of Skin Deep depicts a different stage in the life of one individual, and charts the ageing process and how one’s skin changes and loosens over time. One image depicts a young man with his head turned, which represents him reflecting back upon his younger self. It is completely drenched in red tones representing not only exuberant youth, but also the arteries present beneath the surface of skin. The second work depicts a middle-aged man consisting mainly of shades of blue. It becomes apparent that the skin of the individual depicted is quickly roughening as he ages, with one subject positioned to face the other and thus reflect upon his future self.
Starting point and influences… My own imperfect skin was what originally inspired me to explore the theme of skin within my artwork. From the age of twelve, I have struggled with severe acne. Due to being constantly bullied because of my acne, I decided to take prescription medication for my skin and have been doing so since the age of fourteen. With my highly sensitive skin, I cannot wear makeup and therefore my imperfections are visible for all to see. I chose skin as my main theme and decided to chart the ageing process because I wanted to encourage viewers of my artwork, in addition to the subjects depicted within my artwork, to embrace their imperfections like I have my own. In regards to artistic inspiration, I was particularly inspired by the works of Chan Hwee Chong. Chong’s artistic style involves appropriating renowned artworks, such as the Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring in a swirling contour-line style, characteristic of a fingerprint. This style adds complexity to the appropriated artworks. By thickening the line in certain areas Chong increases the degree of realism projected.
Favourite artist… My favourite artist is Frida Kahlo. I highly admire her depiction of her own identity within her artwork, and view her as a feminist icon. Her artworks are highly personal and allow the audience a real insight into her mindset and the various struggles that she has encountered throughout her life. I highly admire both the connection and level of understanding woven between Kahlo and the viewers of her artwork; viewers are encouraged to develop their own interpretations of Kahlo’s dreams and thoughts, expressed within her artwork. Her struggles with her own cultural identity and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, catalogued throughout her art, especially resonate for many viewers. My favourite Frida Kahlo artwork is The Two Fridas, as I believe it accurately depicts the artist’s inner turmoil regarding the clash of her traditional cultural identity with a new, modernist identity.
The advice that I would give to students undertaking VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts is to approach the subject(s) as a hobby and passion, not a chore. This will make developing the folio and creating a body of work fun and enjoyable, and the student will therefore be more likely to achieve an extensive exploration and be able to create and hand in artworks by deadlines. In the stress of Year 12, I found working on my folio to be a peaceful escape – I could relax and explore my passion, while being productive. I would advise that students make the most of their classes. I found one-on-one time with my teacher extremely helpful in brainstorming and solidifying ideas. I also experimented and learned about a vast array of different artistic techniques and styles.
Ideas behind the art… My theme for my folio was identity – a broad, all-encompassing theme which I chose primarily because I am fascinated with the psychology behind identity formation. For this work, the concept was ‘self-identity’ with a strong focus on how culture is a massive factor contributing to our individual identity. Contrasting Indonesian and Australian humans in similar situations but different environments illustrates the extreme differences I have perceived between the two cultures and nations. My photographic series is titled Seven Hours Difference because the time difference between Indonesia and Australia (Melbourne) is just seven hours, yet their way of life is so excitingly different to ours in Australia in so many ways; the language, shops, traditions and customs, and houses. However, I also think the pairs of images can have similarities drawn between them and not just differences. I did this by intentionally creating scenarios in Australia that would complement the scene I had captured in Indonesia to show that even though we experience very different lifestyles, we are all, at our core, human beings with our own unique personal identity, experiencing life.
Materials and processes…I used the medium of digital photography for my artwork. I own a Canon 600d and this year bought myself a Sigma 35mm lens, which is the equipment I used for all images. The Indonesian images were spontaneously captured and not posed or planned in any way because I wanted the photographs to be as natural and unmanipulated as possible, in order to represent Indonesia honestly and justly. There was not a lot of post-production processing. For the Australian images, the scenes were elaborately constructed and planned because I needed to complement the Indonesian images I had already shot. For the Australian picture of the three teenagers out the front of their house in urban Ballarat, I meticulously altered their positions in order to capture an image that bore distinct compositional similarities to the Indonesian image of the family in front of their bright pink house. Some of the Australian images were stitched together in Photoshop and expanded so that the scale was similar between the comparative images.
Inspiration… As a keen reader, books such as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini have provided me with rich insight into how people in other nations live and prompted my interest in culture I have not experienced. I believe I am very open to new experiences and don’t feel threatened by culture I don’t understand; I am intrigued by the stories and situations of other people, and I feel privileged to have travelled extensively to further my understanding of other cultures, religions and races. An artist who endlessly inspires me is Brandon Stanton (the Humans of New York photographer) because of his ability to engage with people of all backgrounds. The photo-sharing website Tumblr also inspires me greatly, as I can log on and see thousands of photographs from all over the world. I especially love dramatic landscape imagery as well as portraits.
Try and choose a broad theme because very specific themes are often difficult to work with for the long duration of Unit 3 (nature, identity, still life and people are examples of very broad themes). A broad theme has a lot of scope, allowing you to explore many different ideas and not be restricted. Everything you do, everything that influences you, everything you plan, put into your folio. Ensure you don’t leave your folio lying around or lose it – that would be devastating! Also, ensure that you back up and save all of your hard work. Don’t just rely on the school computers or your laptop, but use an external hard drive, a USB, a friend’s USB, SD cards, iCloud, Google Drive, and another USB – the more copies the better, because it would be the most awful thing to lose your work. Don’t feel threatened by Studio Arts… the folios will always come together, and there are no limits to what you can create or what you can achieve!