NGV Tops Arts 2013 by Ruby Mahoney

Beetles etched on autumn leaves, Mona Lisa headphones wrapped around her neck with ballet shoes larger than life, music video collages, clotheslines of life drawing and monster murals. This is the National Gallery of Victoria Studio, currently home to the disruptive, brilliant collection of artwork Top Arts 2013. I enter the media preview, eyes drawn up to the flash animations playing on the scaffolding. Quotes adorn the walls, reading as if they were from famous people.

‘Don’t feel limited by the resources you have as a student; hard work, dedication and belief can transcend this.’ – Salvatore Cucchiara.

I discover later these quotes are from the artists themselves; VCE Art and Studio Art graduates from 2012.

Eliza Mills (Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School), Art

R: What are the ideas behind your project, The Parallels of Emotions?

E: My idea was to portray how all the different emotions we feel come together to form our whole personality, in the way these photos come together to form the entire work.

R: What are your plans now that school is out?

E: I’m studying at RMIT TAFE now, doing a Certificate IV in Photo Imaging. The plan after that is to travel, or else set up my own photography business and essentially take over the world.

R: Why do you think it’s important to exhibit young peoples’ art?

E: We young people are the next generation of artists – the next Bill Hensons! And so society should support us now, seeing as art is so fundamental to our culture.


Sarah McDonald (Loreto College Ballarat), Art

R: What were your inspirations for Metamorphosis?

S: I’ve always been interested in scientific drawing, so I visited the museum with a sketch book, drew some beetles, and it went from there. I experimented with etching plates and polygraphs, and the representation of the beetles changed with each medium, hence Metamorphosis.

R: How does it feel to have your work on display?

S: It’s a massive privilege to be part of this exhibition – it feels absolutely surreal. I’ve enjoyed seeing the standard of the other artists’ work, and to see the talent of other young people.

R: Are you planning to continue with your art?

S: I ended up choosing to study Science at Melbourne University, but with Art History as my breadth subject. I hope to keep art going on the side as a kind of relaxation, but I know science will take me places.


Tess Saunders (Mornington Secondary College), Studio Art

R: What was your intention with these photographs?

T: I was exploring the ideas of youth culture today, through the appropriation of old paintings. The photos are very staged – composition was very important, as I wanted to clearly reference the original works – Girl With a Pearl Earring, Mona Lisa, etc.

R: Are you excited about having your work in an exhibition?

T: I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d been chosen – this is a mini-dream for me. I’m hoping to study Photography at RMIT and this is an amazing first step. It just proves what youth can do when they are determined.


Samantha Stephens (Kirbank Grammar School), Studio Arts

R: Where did Home come from?

S: Through this photo collage, I wanted to portray the concept of ‘home’ as a connected world. Everything we do affects other people, and the world is everyone’s home. I took photos in America, here in the city, out in the country … And then I edited them to emphasise the way the silhouette of the landscape in one place can easily connect to the landscape somewhere else.

R: What was your experience of the selection process?

S: I was impressed by how professional the NGV people were, considering we’re all just out of school. It was great to even be shortlisted, let alone chosen for the exhibition. It’s so hard for young people to enter this industry, so the exposure is exciting. That said, my favourite part of the whole Studio Arts experience was back in the development stage – playing around with weird ideas, experimenting.

R: What does the future hold for you, post-VCE?

S: After much thought, I decided to study Commerce/Engineering at Monash University, and continue photography as a hobby. Mainly because I don’t think you need a degree to be an artist.


Nathan Parker (Box Hill High School), Studio Art

R: How and why did you make an animation film?

N: I’ve always liked animation, and thought it would be a good form where I could use my creative control. I storyboarded my ideas, developing seven narratives each with a different protagonist. After this experience, I’ve decided I might study animation at university, and release my own work via the Internet because it’s an easy way to reach an audience.

R: Are you excited to have gained an audience here at NGV?

N: I’m glad to have my name on the wall, and for strangers to see my name and my work. It’s unbelievable to have an artwork on display at this age. I still feel a little out of place at NGV, though – I look around at the other students’ brilliant work and wonder: How did I get in?

Top Arts 2013 will be on display at NGV Studio, Flinders Street, Federation Square from March 21 – July 7. Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Ruby Mahoney


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