The Year 9 and 10 Visual Arts students attended their first excursion on Monday 27 May going to the Art Gallery of NSW to see the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, and The Essential Duchamp and Jeffrey Smart exhibitions with their Visual Arts teachers Mrs Goodall and Mrs Odonga.
The Year 10 students have just started their second unit of work where they will be painting a portrait of their chosen Hero of Faith. The opportunity to see such a wide variety of portraits from the Archibald Prize enables the students to experience firsthand the many stylistic and technical approaches available to them using paint to represent an individual. To see these artworks in reality is incredibly important to the student’s own compositional and technical development as many of the technical elements found in these works cannot be seen in reproductions in books or online. To see these works and their scale also shifts the student’s perceptions of the work helping them understand important decisions that artists make when communicating to their audience about their subject.
This excursion was also extremely important in the development of each student’s understanding of the historical events that have shaped the artworld. ‘The Essential Duchamp’ exhibition was a wonderful selection of Marcel Duchamp’s work from the late 19th century into his most notorious works of the early and mid-20th century. Many of the artworks on show are very difficult to access in reproductions, if at all. This artist is possibly one of the most significant 20th century artists to have influenced the artworld by challenging the established beliefs of his time regarding art, what the subject of art should be and the materials an artwork could be made from. He reshaped the art world’s understanding of art by shifting the focus from technical skill to conceptual thought. He desired to engage the audience in the conceptual process of artmaking and the role of the artist who works hard to create a dialogue with their audience through the link of the artwork. For this exhibition to be in Sydney was an amazing opportunity which will have a long lasting impact on the students’ study of the Visual Arts.
We also visited the Jeffrey Smart exhibition. In this collection of works the students saw artworks that they had studied in Year 8. They were able to see his work in context and to recognise his amazing levels of skill in composition and material control. While at the gallery we had a little bit of time left over before we had to leave so we went to visit a few works from The National; this exhibition is the second of three biennial surveys presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art.
The opportunity for Visual Arts students to experience and engage with artworks in reality within the gallery space cannot be underestimated. Such experiences stay embedded in their minds for much longer than classroom experiences of the same works leading to deeper levels of understanding and greater conceptual depth.
Community News Term 2, 2019 Quotes from the students:
“We saw artists’ works who made artworks in ways we were not familiar with before.” – Andrew & Jordan (Yr 10)
“By visiting the Archibald Prize at the Gallery we were able to see a wide variety of artistic styles and techniques used in portrait painting. The experience has given me a broader perspective of the many ways I could approach my own work.” – Hailey (Yr 10)
“Marcel Duchamp’s artwork was so varied and it showed the development of his practice over time. Without this experience I would have had no idea what he had produced as we normally look at artworks in isolation.” – Arneece, Laita & Talo (Yr 10)
“I was overwhelmed by the size of the Archibald portraits. It was amazing to see the fine details and there were no mistakes looking at Tessa MacKay’s portrait of David Wenham.” – Sam (Yr 9)
“You wouldn’t believe that it was real unless you could see it up close.” – Josh (Yr 9)
“I was surprized by how much paint the artist applied in an impasto technique. I found it really interesting to see a new method of painting.” – Dany (Yr 9)
“I learnt that art can be seen in a different perspective, it revealed a part of the artist’s life that I wouldn’t have understood otherwise. I found reading the artists’ statements really useful.” – Victoria (Yr 10)
“By seeing artworks up close it gave me more of an insight into techniques. I could see the layers of paint and the brushstrokes and how the artwork was constructed.” – Joy (Yr 10)
“I was in awe of Jeffrey Smart’s painting technique and I could see all the finer details.” – Erica (Yr 9)
“I got really excited when I recognised Jeffrey Smart’s painting that we had studied two years ago. Back then it was a black and white photocopy and now I saw all the vibrant colours.” – Hailey (Yr 10)
“I learnt that there are different ways that you can make art and that art is not all the same. I felt inspired and it made me appreciate different forms of art.” – Alina (Yr 10)