HSC Visual Arts

Visual Arts Subject Master Mrs Bernadette Mansfield gives us a glimpse into the inspiration behind the striking collection of artworks created by the 2021 HSC Visual Arts class.


It has been my long-held belief that although HSC Visual Arts boys make the greatest commitment in time throughout the busiest period of their Grammar lives, they are rewarded with the highest return. It is notable that they are required to produce a unique body of practical work predicated on their own research and conception, while concurrently studying Art History in a high school course without peer. Both strands of the course demand independence, selfreliance, and a willingness to surrender to a wide-roaming and challenging intellectual journey. Boys are encouraged not simply to be passive recipients of their studio master’s teaching, but through self-initiative interrogate information and learn through active discussion and exploration with their masters and peers. This ‘atelier’ mode of learning has become the backbone of the success boys enjoy during their time studying Visual Arts at College Street.

Returning to my belief concerning the highest returns, this is evident each year when boys exhibit their work to the public replete with the knowledge that their Body of Work is theirs. For some, this exhibition marks the beginning of a lifelong career in art and for all, a lifelong interest and understanding of art. We cherish every note and postcard we receive from around the world written by boys who express gratitude because, when walking through the great galleries and cities abroad, their acquired knowledge from Grammar is applied and enjoyed. Many will also cheekily add how they were able to impress their families, partners and these days, their own children.

This opening summary is, of course, within the context of a pre-COVID-19 world. For the class of 2021 a frustratingly diminished level of most of the above was possible. Their disappointment was matched equally by the disappointment of their masters. However, that said, the work the boys were able to complete during such a demanding and challenging time went way beyond our expectations. We remain grateful for the short period of time it was permissible for boys to attend College Street on Saturdays and Sundays to work in their studios, and I remain perennially grateful to my colleagues who gave up their family weekends to oversee the workshops.

It is important to all of us in the Visual Arts department to use as many platforms as is possible to ‘exhibit’ the works made by the deserving 2021 cohort. The SGS magazine allows our broad community an insight into the extraordinary achievements of our HSC Visual Arts young men, so please enjoy a glimpse into the concepts that underpin each of their works, and the outstanding techniques they each use to articulate them.

Aral Bagis

Aral Bagis was keen to portray the underlying complexity and multifaceted nature of Turkish society and culture – including bringing forward symbols and themes of Ottoman and Turkic art. He united his concepts under the title of his work Aşık (Ashik) which is a name given to the bard who played the ‘baglama’ or ‘saz’ instrument while telling stories that relate to history. An Aşık is a common figure in the Alevi sect of Islam (found predominantly in Turkey) and Aral wished to further explore this culture through his personal connection to Alevi Islam by way of his grandfather, who also played the ‘saz’, and entertained him with tales of old. The material Aral used is welded steel, and he worked in our purpose built welding studio under the tutelage of renowned sculptor, David Horton. The work is fluid, with contrasting forms and echoes of Islamic calligraphic strokes reflecting the dense mixture of cultures Turkey has been exposed to, including Byzantine Roman Greek, Kurdish, Causasian (Causasus Mountains), North Africa, Arabic, Persian, Venetian, French and Russian.

Atticus Llewellyn

Atticus Llewellyn delved into and explored the gender fluidity of his father. His aim was to convey a deeply intimate aspect of his dad’s life which, due to societal predispositions, forced him to become reserved and retain a high and sensitive level of privacy. Using (predominantly) charcoal, Atticus drew us into his observations and understanding of his father’s world by way of juxtaposing daily routines. For example, one drawing depicting the torso of a male who is readying himself for work by putting his tie in place, corresponds with another drawing showing the same male torso tying the bow of a blouse. Atticus has also incorporated the motif of a butterfly (and its layered meaning) to brilliant effect.

David Zhang

David Zhang’s film, titled The Illusion of Others, is a psychological exploration of the demands and expectations society embeds within our subconsciousness, and the impact this has on our daily lives. He explores the relationship between a mother and daughter, whereby the words left unspoken appear louder than those that are said. David’s film is nuanced and thoughtful; it reveals understanding and acquired knowledge of his subject(s) and a breadth of technical ability.

Ari Hastings

Ari Hastings explored Irish mythology, his curiosity prompted by his family heritage and connection with the Emerald Isle. He was particularly interested in the Green Man, a rare and multi-represented figure in Irish culture who is strongly connected with nature and landscape due to his forceful presence. Ari’s abstract paintings explored traditional Irish symbolism including the Celtic knot, the golden harp and the marlet. He used a limited palette to link his work back to the historical and contemporary representations of the Green Man, as well evoking tradition surviving time, change and lineage. His ‘chance based’ use of paint (inspired by the artist Charlie Sheard) evolved from the notion that control of the material is only altered around natural elements, such as water, and the effect gravity has on it.

Ethan Tran

Ethan Tran’s prints capture the architecture of historic Sydney. His visits to Angel Place and the National Art School (the site of the old Darlinghurst Gaol) motivated him to capture these two unchanging places within the changing and modernising world that surrounds them. Ethan used the motif of cages situated in Angel Place to link it to the history of both buildings having been the result of captive labour. He used a monochromatic colour scheme and chose to depict the buildings from the perspective of looking up at each structure, from the ground, capturing the perception of the monumentality Angel Place and the National Art School have on the nation’s history.

Jack Morton

Jack Morton’s bronze and ceramic sculptures represent the emotional extremes in reaction to the experience of losing a loved one. His work features the beautifully crafted clay hands of two adults with the third, a child’s hand, placed between them. These three hands sit in contrast to the cast bronze hands, symbolic of the cradled nature of love and the preservation of same, even after death. There is a deeply personal aspect to Jack’s work as the hands are all sculpted from family members: his mother, father, and younger sister. The bronze hands are those of his grandmother who sadly passed away from leukemia a few years ago. It was his experience of the reaction to this loss that shaped the conception and realisation of his Body of Work.

Henry Gayst used architectonic design and language to explore the nature of space and shadows in his steel sculpture. He was influenced by the work of Sol DeWitt’s grid system and worked under the guidance of David Horton. His final work consisted of a single large-scale sculpture of breathtaking standard.

Charlie Veeneklaas

Charlie Veeneklaas brought together the influences of Vincent van Gogh and Hans Coper. It is Charlie’s Dutch heritage that first piqued his interest in van Gogh’s work which collided with unexpected success with the abstract ceramics of German artist, Coper. His sculptural series was glazed with gold lustre, playing with the curiosity of materials. Are they metal or are they clay? His outstanding and completed series bears all the hallmarks of a competent wheel-throwing, and skilled hand-building potter.

Kiran Apte

Kiran Apte examined and investigated the purpose of historical objects for their artistic and aesthetic beauty. Exploring helmets (as part of a suit of armour) Kiran worked to reveal the wide range of cultures and eras they came from and how the helmets reflected time and place. Most important to him was who had worn them? The hollow shells of helmets become the keepers of lost lives, lost voices and lost personal histories. His work sought to pay tribute to those who would otherwise be completely forgotten and to memorialise the faceless and nameless wearers of these strange, beautiful yet terrifying protectors of heads.

Marley Vigar

Marley Vigar used oils to paint the The Fisherman’s Table, depicting a variety of objects from the life of a late 19th century fisherman. He drew on the influences of still-life painters from the Dutch Golden Age, including Pieter Claesz and Simon Luttichuys, to match the personal influence of his father’s passion for sailing. His interest in maritime history was augmented further by literature, most specifically Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Marley’s stated intention to force the audience into piecing together their own narrative surrounding the fisherman from a bygone era from his six canvasses, was highly successful.

Oliver King

Oliver King’s delightful series of graphite and watercolour drawings capture the pride and value he has in his precious Estonian heritage. As a four-year-old, his grandmother was forced to flee the the Red Army during the Second World War, and Oliver’s research into her experience helped him understand the reasons his grandparents chose the limited number of objects they brought to Australia. These six objects represent different facets of Estonian culture in Oliver’s Body of Work, as well as being symbolic of the journey his grandparents took and their arrival in a new country.

Rory Kidd

Rory Kidd etched in copper to draw attention to the uses of spaces in and around his home in Woolloomooloo. He wanted to capture the footprints of transient people, reflecting the disproportionality large percentage of displaced people in his neighbourhood. The spaces he etched (and drew with charcoal) are incredibly familiar to him and are an integral backdrop to his life. However, for the outsider they perhaps go unnoticed and ignored – as well as being avoided due to a fear of the unknown. Sydney’s oldest suburb, Woolloomooloo has a rich, deep history that Rory delved into, exploring how, over a 200-year period, the tensions between the homeless population and the local council have become increasingly amplified.

Andrew Hardas

Andrew Hardas worked with a combination of Claymation and video clips to develop a charming stop-motion film. He hand-crafted two identical plant creatures and took them (and us) on a journey of nature over nurture. The ‘plant creatures’ were made from clay allowing Andrew to manipulate and create a vast and varied range of expressions and movement. His filmic narrative had enormous depth and his avoidance of proselytising was admirable and clever.

Ben Moy

Ben Moy titled his work La Société du Spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) as an indication of his exploration into the changing nature of the human condition in a world mediated by images. His Body of Work was inspired by the Surrealist artist, Rene Magritte and Ben’s work specifically draws upon Margritte’s 1953 painting titled Golconda, where nearly identical men seem to be falling from the sky like raindrops. Ben’s work asks questions relating to a world saturated with images and a world without them and makes us aware of the falsity of representation. His images of a man in multiple both confounds and confuses. They cannot be real, can they? It is only a picture, but a picture is to be believed is it not? Like Magritte, Ben’s work proves the seduction of images.

Campbell Gilmore

Campbell Gilmore set out to seek and establish a synthesis between the genre of abstract expressionism, and philosophical and psychological theories. His interest was centred on the ways mental health is often misjudged in relationship to societal norms. Using photography as his medium, Campbell sought to represent the complexities of an individual’s ‘self-image’ branching out into a dissociative identity disorder, thereby producing multiple self-images which are then held and expressed by a single individual. He researched Marcus Aurelius’ First Principles, as the text encourages the breaking down of complex systems into simpler factors to form a more considered judgement. The title of his Body of Work, The First Principles of Dissociation, also drew on the paintings of Rothko to articulate complex psychological issues in a beautifully considered and intelligent series of photographs.

Hunter Cale

Hunter Cale embarked on a filmed story of loneliness and progress was severely impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown. Using a borrowed lyric from a song by Bjork, So I Can Feel Happier, his film bore so much potential and promise. It was Hunter’s own experience of the omnipotent loneliness that COVID-19 visited upon us that partially inspired his concept. He is a gifted filmmaker and there are passages of utter brilliance in his understanding of the power of the camera.

Hamish Crawford

Hamish Crawford’s exploration of his cultural heritage revealed that before Scotland had a calendar, time was measured by the various periods of winter and spring and by the names of their gods and goddesses. The struggle, therefore, between Angus and Cailleach Bheur is a story of struggle between spring and winter; light and dark; warmth and cold. This conflict was harnessed as a metaphor by Hamish to articulate his own experience with his thought patterns, bravely conveying his own journey. He too has at times been filled with cold torment but buoyed by the dim glimmer of warmth and hope that lies ahead.

Max Hawkins

Max Hawkins worked in the discipline of photo media and explored the concept of human habitation within suburbia. His intention was to evoke a sense of melancholy through familiarity of subject, while at the same time evoke the physical loneliness that was embodied during and between COVID lockdowns. Max did this with great success and his completed series did everything he required of them for his audience.

Jock Henry

Jock Henry employed the skills of graphic design to create a Body of Work which offered windows into the future of the planet as a result of manmade environmental exploitation. His three works showed different aspects of the future that have become part of the past, in an even further distant future. Jock’s work required us to meditate and read the nuances and subtleties he had included, inviting and challenging us into a world that was, and will be.

Toby Loxton

Toby Loxton produced a provocative and challenging series of photographs to explore the deterioration of the human form through obscurity and ambiguity. He investigated the work of German photographer Lovis Ostenrik and how he used tonal interplay to disguise and veil features, therefore creating misinterpretation. Toby’s excellent technical and conceptual skills were utilised in perfect harmony with each other, and his mature, complex and masterful images are testimony to his commitment to his craft.

Will Hannelly

Will Hannelly’s Artificial Nature aims to explore the relationship between classical art and contemporary society, specifically with regard to mass production. By using porcelain ceramics, one of the earliest art forms, he painstakingly made molds to slip-cast nine bottles, and hand carved traditional wooden flowers as their lids. The juxtaposing of two natural materials – porcelain reproduced in multiples, and wood delicately and slowly carved and turned – beautifully evokes a connection with a natural environment that has been engulfed in modern times.

To the Visual Arts cohort of 2021 I wish you every success in your chosen fields. It has been a strange and bumpy journey over the past two years, yet you will all fondly be remembered as the class that collectively triumphed over adversity. Long may you continue to paint, print, pot, photograph, draw and sculpt, and find joy and enlightenment in art and its history.