Kiwi fruit, pop art and landscapes – there was something for everyone on the walls of the Catholic Education Office, Marian Centre when the ground floor was transformed into an exhibition space, unveiling the annual Director’s Art Gallery Ceremony.
This year, the exhibition includes 19 students from four secondary schools and one K-12 school who have secured coveted positions in the showcase – with no shortage of talent.
The Director’s Art Gallery is an exhibition of exemplary artworks created by visual arts students in Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong schools. The works on display for 2019 represented a broad range of subject matter, approaches, styles and media including painting, drawing, lino-printing, graphic design and photography.
This event represents the high standards and diversity achieved, with talented visual arts students connecting their art to a wide range of topics - culture, diversity, heritage, the environment, passion and inequality.
It includes a work titled ‘My Pride’ - a black and white portrait of a Zimbabwean girl surrounded by bright native flowers. “My artwork highlights my growth as a person. When I came to Australia, I could tell that I was different and I felt out of place, compared to when I was in Zimbabwe,” explained artist Jachobed, a Year 10 student from St Benedict’s Catholic College Oran Park.
“I went through a stage where I wanted to be anyone but me because of all the physical differences I had compared to the other kids. This made it hard to accept me, let alone be proud of my culture.
“Around Year 6, I had the revelation that I was beautiful inside and out, and that my differences and heritage were the reason for this. I slowly began accepting myself more and more until I was infatuated with who I was. When this opportunity arose, I decided to use it as a method of expressing my pride in my culture and who I am.”
Another standout piece was ‘Cropped and Chopped’, produced by Year 7 student, Samuel from St Francis Catholic College Edmondson Park. Inspired by the art movement, pop art, Samuel chose to use coloured pencils to recreate food labels.
“I chose these food labels [Twisties, Pringles, Toblerone, Oreo, Fanta, Dominos and Thins] as they are famous and popular worldwide,” he said. “They're also a few of my favourites. I chose to cut the page into random geometric shapes and sizes to make the illustrations look more appealing and eye-catching to the viewer.”
Anthony, a Year 10 student from John Therry Catholic High School Rosemeadow produced the painting ‘Colour in the Dark’ that explores the inequality of today’s society through the notions of colour.
“My piece is based on the 1960s art movement of pop art, using bold outlines and flat colour to give insight into the life of the American rapper, Jermaine Lamarr Cole,” Anthony said. “I feel really grateful and honoured to attend today.” Anthony’s dad, Ilario reaffirmed this. “I am very proud of Anthony for being recognised today and for showing his artistic talent.”
Corpus Christi Catholic High School Oak Flats
Lily Lawson, Elizabeth Tran, Alara Uz and Saxon Vinkovic
St Benedict’s Catholic College Oran Park
Jochobed Nyamadzavo, Joshua Quinn, Benjamin Waights and Emelia Waters
John Therry Catholic High School Rosemeadow
Jazmin Abrahamowicz, Nikita Bulgak, Anthony Ceroni and Caitlin Frohreich
Mount Carmel Catholic College Varroville
Max Bakulic, Merryn Clarke, Leilani Masilungan and Daniela Miletic
St Francis Catholic College Edmondson Park
Sarah Anscombe, Isabella Caceres and Samuel Cilia
Senior Pastoral Care Coordinator at Mount Carmel Catholic College Varroville, Theresa Moore said the exhibition is a wonderful platform to showcase the various artistic skills students have learned in art classrooms across the Diocese.
“This event displays the creative abilities of students in applying these skills to produce magnificent artworks. The exhibition has allowed students' artistic achievements to be recognised, and given them an opportunity to share their creative and critical thinking in visual form,” Mrs Moore said.
“By providing each student with the opportunity to speak about their process and journey in art making, their discovery and learning about the art world, and creating artworks exploring elements of their world, society or culture, has permitted them to grow in confidence. It is a great celebration of culture and student creative and artistic achievement - a wonderful experience for all involved.”
Senior Visual Arts Teacher at John Therry Catholic High School Rosemeadow, Ashley Hume said the exhibition showcased a diverse and accomplished range of artworks. “Our students thoroughly enjoyed experiencing their artworks on display at their first exhibition and were inspired by the celebration of the arts in our community. We were grateful for the opportunity.”
For students, the exhibition provided an opportunity to stretch their skills and unleash their imaginations. Year 7 student, Elizabeth from Corpus Christi Catholic High School Oak Flats produced an ink drawing titled ‘Water All Around Us’. “This was the first time I had worked with ink and I really enjoyed using this material as it allowed me to express the qualities of the water. I could recreate the lines, the ripples and the escarpment in the background,” Elizabeth said.
“I feel really special and surprised because I never thought that I would be chosen for such a significant exhibition. When I was younger I did a lot of art classes and put hard work into my art - I guess this work paid off in helping me get to where I am today. To see my drawing on display has made me proud, happy and excited.”
It wasn’t only the artists who were proud but also their loved ones. Isabella, a Year 8 student from St Francis Catholic College Edmondson Park created ‘The Cup of Still Life’ inspired by cubism.
Isabella's mother, Maria expressed her pride. “When Isabella’s teacher contacted me to let me know she had been chosen for the exhibition, I was initially in complete shock,” she said. “I had no idea about her capacity in art and had never seen her artwork prior to today. I actually had tears in my eyes when I saw her drawing on display.”
At the opening, CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner welcomed guests to the much anticipated event enjoyed by hundreds of staff and visitors who regularly visit the Marian Centre.
In particular, Mr Turner thanked CEDoW Administrative Officer, Trisha Cunningham for her leadership, commitment and dedication towards making the exhibition happen, and for putting her “heart and soul” into the planning.
“Art influences the society in which we live because it changes opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time,” Mr Turner said.
“Art is a very special way of communicating. It allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other through images, sounds and stories. Art is the key to unlocking mystery, self-awareness and emotion, and today we are celebrating all of this.”
Mr Turner encouraged the students to keep exploring their creativity. “As you move towards taking your place in an adult world, I would urge you very strongly to please take that gift with you. I encourage you to embrace it, to nurture it, and to celebrate it, because the gift you have is very important.
“A world without art and artists, in my view, is not much of a world. Regardless of what you choose to do in the world beyond school, regardless of what that might be, always be an artist. The difference is, you already have the gift. It’s part of who you are - a God-given gift. And that is what we acknowledge and celebrate today.”