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Top Arts 2017 | Interview with Hugo Blomley

Hugo Blomley
August 2016

What has the highlight been of Top Arts 2017?

Seeing my work on the wall of the NGV was something I never thought I would see. The opening night was my highlight in that regard, I saw hundreds of like minded people as well as friends and families celebrating our success. But also seeing the minister for education standing in front of us and validating the creative arts was empowering to me as a young artist. I feel like during VCE the in particular the creative arts subjects are marginalized. It was exciting to see people celebrating artistic expression.

Do you plan to pursue a career in creative industries?

Yes, I am currently abroad in London on a gap year. I am here pursuing art and enjoying myself before university next year, I want to study Fine Arts at the VCA in Melbourne in 2018. However, I didn’t really want to go straight from school to university, I thought it was important to have a greater grasp of the ‘real world’ beyond high school art and Australia. I have been loving the opportunity to have my own studio space here as well as visit big name galleries and see artists I would rarely see much of back home.

Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

Mark Rothko is allways an artist that I admire however I recently saw a Wolfgang Tillmans show at the Tate Modern. He is a photographer that is interested in capturing life’s intimacies and observing the world around him. I find him distinctly relatable as he captures themes like youth culture and political issues relevant within a contemporary setting. As an artist he takes on the role of a musician, activist, photographer, documenter and so many more. I think that he is one of the more important artists of our age. There is a humble and honest quality to his work as he captures is own messy studio or a 4×5 inch portrait of his friend displayed on a vast gallery wall. Yet there is also beauty and complexity to both his Ideology and abstractions.

What you learnt from the process of Top Arts 2017?

Just give it a shot. I didn’t think I would get in. When I was told I was shortlisted I couldn’t believe it, I s’pose that I always assumed that this was a show for people that were better then me. And then again when I was selected I was also totally surprised again. I didn’t think my work was any more deserving of recognition then that of my friends or other students across the state so I would say that I learnt to just give it a whack and at worst you wont be selected or chosen for whatever you have applied for but at least you tried. Or you might just surprise yourself and realize that people like your stuff.

What would you do differently if you were to do your VCE folio again?

Nothing. I spent basically all my time working on my folio’s, not necessarily researching and writing in them but just drawing, sketching, painting, think about my work. I spent most of my afternoons at school in the studio painting or trying to make a cast of my face… but I never really felt like I was working, it was stressful sometimes but I was doing it because I wanted to. The final result took care of itself.

Have you been working on any creative projects since your work was accepted into Top Arts?

Yeah I sure have. I am always doodling or thinking about my next idea. At the moment I am trying to develop my practice further into a more exploratory area wherein I am experimenting with different mediums, and techniques just sort of seeing what I can do. I am using this year to figure all that out before uni next year. So lots of mistakes and exploring before hopefully beginning to refine my style a little bit.

What advice would you give students going into Year 12, in how to prepare for Art or Studio Art?

I don’t think there is any one piece of advice that helps everyone I had friends who did just as well as me by doing half there folio the night before it was due. For me it was consistency. Just always be working on something. You don’t need to take it too seriously don’t set out to fill 3 sketchbooks and write full essays on every second page, just see what happens and you’ll probably surprise yourself by the end of the year.

Do you have any reflections on your work from Year 12?

I had a lot of fun making my work. During year 12, particularly for art students more so then studio there is heaps of freedom. I was able to do whatever I wanted really. It was also really awesome having the school support me by having a storeroom full of paint! But I was lucky enough to have some really awesome teachers to help me out so they all made my journey a lot easier even just by acting as a board to bounce ideas off. Year 12 art is unique subject in that the responsibility is on you, there’s no set units that are learnt from a textbook each week, so go nuts.