Head of Visual Arts
Mastery and Skill in Visual Arts
We are so lucky as Visual Arts teachers to have the scope to ignite imaginations, master skills, and closely study the practice of masters past, all the while critically analysing representations and creating meaningful understandings of the world – a true luxury in this ever-shifting society in which we live. While the Visual Arts syllabus is equal parts practice and theory, the practical component offers our girls a space for “interest and enjoyment in the doing, production and consumption of art” (Visual Arts Stage 6 Syllabus rationale).
Practice is at the core of what we do. It is the heart of all three content areas and the platform in which artworks are made. Practice is ideas and concepts, processes, techniques and materials; the context in which the work is seen. Through practice students are ‘Learning to enjoy the uncontrollable and make it productive’ (Dalke, Cassidy, Grobstein & Blank).
Year 11s have been enjoying complementing their study of Vanitas (a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death with contrasting symbols) by creating visceral surfaces in the Visual Arts studios. Skulls, dead flower arrangements, stitched silver objects, burnt out candles and utility items placed in silver bowls set up the bases of their compositions. They are purposely reformatting the ideas of the world in the 1700s. Through art, students are able to drill down to a deep understanding of what it is that makes us human. The vanities of life of the 1700s asks the viewer to stop and reflect on what is good in their life – the abundance of glorious bowls of fruit and dynamic flower arrangements. Seeing these peppered with little bugs, reminds the audience that these moments are indeed fleeting and are to be enjoyed, as time passes.
There was the collective consciousness of the time that immediately recognised this symbolism, not only the fineries of life that were highly valued, but also knowledge, art and music. Through the post-modern frame, students play with these ideas from centuries past; some bring a new meaning to the Vanitas in their artmaking, through their material practice; other students focus on a conceptual practice – humour, parody and satire, which are high order thinking strategies, and when embedded intelligently, bring a beautifully human meaning to an artwork. The gentleness of these moments juxtapose the articulate, and sometimes, boisterous conversations and discussions between students to support their creative considerations; offering ideas and often seeking critique in return.
Currently, the Visual Arts studios are full of the exaltation of imagined concepts coming into fruition. The Year 12 artworks are now complete and they are breathtaking; the students are to be congratulated for their commitment to developing sophisticated, refined and meaningful artworks, with strong technical and conceptual resolution. We wish our Year 12 students luck in the submission of their BOW’s in September, and hope these offer a lifetime of joy at the accomplishment of their makers.
The girls all working together in the studio environment develop skills, their imagination and intuition. Within the shared understanding of practice, each student in their own way provides stimulation and drive to another. ‘Some degree of autonomy and “randomness” in the behaviour of the elements is an important ingredient in the establishment, function and continuing evolution of ordered complexity’… as the girls continue their journeys towards becoming masters of their practice.
Ms Monica Boardman
Head of Visual Arts