Memphis Neagle<br/>
<em>Lost</em> 2019<br/>
inkjet print<br/>
41.9 x 53.8 cm<br/>
Firbank Grammar School, Brighton<br/>
© Memphis Neagle
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Memphis Neagle
Lost 2019
Media Release • 13 Mar 20

Top Arts 2020

The annual Top Arts showcase returns for its 26th year presenting artworks from Victoria’s brightest emerging student artists at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 13 March 2020.

Drawn from over 1,700 submissions from schools across Victoria, Top Arts 2020 presents artworks from 43 students who have excelled in VCE Art and Studio Arts.

Themes explored by the exhibiting artists include mental health, the impact of technology on everyday life, diversity and identity.

Working across mediums including painting, sculpture, performance art, theatre, photography and animation, students have undertaken comprehensive research to create innovative and complex artworks.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said ‘Top Arts 2020 showcases the amazing breadth of young artists using their voice to speak out against injustice and generate awareness of issues and ideas that concern the youth of today. This is our 26th year of Top Arts and we’re so proud to continue to support and celebrate art education and provide more opportunities for students to engage with the arts and share their art with peers.’

Artworks in the exhibition are selected by a panel of four judges: Rachael Miller, Victorian Curriculum And Assessment Authority (VCAA) State Reviewer VCE Art; Giuliana D’Angelo, VCAA State Reviewer VCE Studio Arts; Julie Bond, VCAA Regional Representative and David Menzies, NGV Educator and Top Arts curator.

Exhibition highlights include Zach Smyrnis’s Progress Comics 2019, a vibrant series of comic book covers titled The Patriarchy Punishers, The Uni-Diverse Command and The LGBTeam. Influenced by street artist Keith Haring and comic book writer Frank Miller the work showcases characters inspired by modern day activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Antoni Porowski, and Lizzo fighting for gender, sexuality and race equality.

Race and identity are resonant themes throughout the exhibition. Angelo Ooi’s ceramic vessels Transience 2019 and Manifestations 2019 draw inspiration from his Australian upbringing and Malaysian-Chinese heritage. Dusty Diddle’s interactive protest artwork An Index of Childhood Memories, Anger and Intervention 2019 features 32 hand drawn postcards stored in a filing cabinet reflecting the artist’s wish to positively challenge racism.

Portraiture also features extensively, including Shae Jones’s Portrait of Murrundindi 2019, a large scale painting depicting Wurundjeri Elder Murrundindi. In her self-portrait Patchwork 2019, Cat Distel combines different materials and textures to challenge our understanding of the fabric of identity.

Presenting a unique exploration of technology’s influence on society, Ignatz Cady Freer’s absurdist theatre film Tubularis Acrobatics 2019 features three screens with actors performing repetitive tasks in which their actions become more interactive but also increasingly disconnected as the film progresses.

In a moving reflection of suburban life, Lucy Randall takes inspiration from her 87 year-old neighbour as he runs around the streets of Hampton in the hyper realistic sculpture The Shuffler 2019.

Building on the success of Top Arts 2019, which welcomed over 25,000 students and teachers to exhibition and learning programs and events, Top Arts 2020 will be complemented by a dynamic schedule of social and learning opportunities including artist presentations and virtual tours for students in regional and remote areas. Programming also includes introductory talks and folio viewings to inspire and support current VCE students in their Art and Studio Art studies.

Top Arts is a part of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (VCAA) annual VCE Season of Excellence showcasing outstanding VCE and VCE VET students through a festival of concerts, exhibitions, film screenings and a research presentation program.