I visited the Top Art exhibition at Federation Square on 6 April and can report that it’s well worth a visit.

Here’s a link to the NGV website explaining the background and including photos of all of the work. It’s all by Year 12 students completed in 2017 and some of it is really, really good. It is in a space to the left of the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square, which is not actually part of the Centre. It used to be a restaurant and is quite an awkward spot to fill but this exhibition utilises it really well.

The work on display illustrates how young people love dealing with big issues! And while they must all be of an artistic bent, they are also very articulate; able to explain the ideas behind the works really well, perhaps with assistance from the curators.

I really loved this very delicate water colour which in contrast to it’s gentle exposition is illustrating a subversive truth about our great suburban dream. It’s called Lawn and the artist, Lidia Byrne of Eltham High, wanted to question whether our proclaimed regard for nature is really one derived of true affection or merely an egocentric aspiration. The painting shows where she lines up. We don’t see any lawn; just overweight men in their less than flattering week-end gear wielding with their hoses!

I also loved this large piece (porcelain on painted wood) called Together by Philippa Gan from the Hamilton and Alexandrea College in Hamilton. It’s made up of all these wonderful tiny porcelain heads. The artist says; I wanted to highlight and celebrate the beauty of difference among people. And she certainly achieves that. Here’s the whole piece. And here are some of the individual heads.

Madeline King’s piece, Nujeen Mustafa was thought provoking. Nujeen was forced to flee Syria in a wheelchair. The featured Arabic word means belong. The rubble evokes the destruction of cities and towns in Syria. Powerful imagery.

This abstract interpretation of burning sugar-can fields was very inventive. It’s called Geometry of a burnt land by Mia Kroopin of Melbourne Girls Grammar and is made of eight 1920s CSR hessian bags sewn together along with chalk, acrylic paint, cotton, wool and thick sewing yarn to build up a topographical view. Clever.

As was this; one of three pieces of clothing included in the exhibition, all of which were interesting. Hard to photograph and extremely hard to do I would think. Called Community by Karina de Vries-Apred of Ivanhoe Girls Grammar, these are faces embroidered in black thread on clear acrylic; creating a raw and contemporary aesthetic.

Small collages by Sabine Schiavone from Ave Maria College in Aberflede were also very inventive. These were five interior and five exterior scenes that together made up Home sweet home They are described as vibrant, alternative, personal and quirky. As indeed they are.

This portrait of 102 year old Phyllis Walker by Caitlin Miric from Ivanhoe Girls Grammar is very beautiful, capturing perfectly the serenity that often accompanies old age but in a very respectful way. It’s done on an iPad (David Hockney style). The portrait is so warm and gentle but the smile and eyes suggest a life lived well. Which indeed is the case. The background notes tell us that Phyllis, now confined to a wheelchair, used to entertain cinema goers in the early days of films with contortionist and gymnastic acts during intervals. Fantastic!

This linocut by Sam Wilson of St Kevin’s College was also striking. Called Grandma two it is of his maternal grandmother. I liked the sense of watchfulness and also of strength that comes through.

I also liked this other work by a St Kevin’s student, . It’s one of three inkjet prints in Acrobat series by Thomas Emerson. They were hard to photograph because of where they were hung, but all three were very powerful images.

These are only a few of the works on display, as you can see if you check out the NGV website. There’s lots more to see. And all of it interesting. It’s refreshing seeing the work of young artists. All so inventive and, whilst dealing with some big issues, still optimistic. At least that’s how it felt to me I do recommend you get along to see it. It’s on until 15 July so you have plenty of time. And it’s free entry.


One Response to Top Art

  1. Pauline Doran says:

    Top Arts is always an interesting show as it gives insight to the thinking of the young today. From Environment to personal invites to their world. Use of different techniques both traditional and contemporary. This is such a mix of themes and ideas and a credit to the young artists and their teachers and families. Well done the curator for making an exhibition that tells us these stories.

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