HSC Visual Arts Exhibition

Visual Arts Subject Master Mrs Bernadette Mansfield captures the excitement of presenting the 2022 exhibition in a new venue and the boys share the inspiration behind their work.


Moving the biggest night on the Visual Arts calendar to a new venue added whole layers of complexity to the opening night of the 2022 HSC Art Exhibition. For decades the event was held within the Art Department, along the corridor of Level 6; this year we transformed the JVH Foyer, creating a professional gallery space to present the outstanding works of our seventeen HSC candidates.

With the whiff of freshly painted walls in the air, we only had the ‘actual day’ of the exhibition to install. With classes taking place around us we wrestled with plinths, hanging wires, lighting rigs, a piano, a pizza station, a bar and (of course) the all-important precious sculptures, prints, photographs, paintings and ceramics of the HSC artists.

At 5:55pm, the final touches were still being made to Angus Maple-Brown’s work and a small crowd gathered to give him support as he raced to finish before the doors opened to the public at 6pm.

The sound of corks popping, Harry Awad playing jazz on piano, evocative lighting, and trays of delicious canapes greeted guests as they flooded into the foyer. Gasps of delight and surprise provided immediate acknowledgment of the hours of toil boys had put into successfully articulating and resolving their individual concepts through various and challenging mediums.

For us, as Art masters, it’s been a pleasure to see each boy develop his Body of Work over the course of four terms. Their words of reflection as they complete the end of their intense journeys- somehow having managed to traverse and negotiate the other demands of their academic lives - provides the best insight into the 2022 HSC Visual Arts Exhibition:

Henry Watkins

Ceramics: Northern Rivers – the small, hushed waves repeated fresh collapse

“Inspired by Ted Secombe’s crystalline glazes and their unpredictability, my forms are coated to enhance the grace, beauty and power of water’s movement and the fragile line between beauty and destruction. The making of my work was an extremely long process; whilst throwing the actual form on the wheel does not take too long, the manipulation and careful sculpting of each individual piece is incredibly time consuming. I hope that people will recognise the brown hues in the glaze as a subtle reference to the mud that invaded Lismore and its surrounds, following the devastation of the floods. The crystals that grew during the firing process are symbolic of the rebirth of the Northern Rivers community after annihilation caused by water.”

Angus Maple-Brown

Ceramics: The Permanence of Unknown Makers

“I sought to encapsulate the enduring symbiosis between maker and pot by altering a classical form of the amphora to evoke a human body, fraught with fragility and beauty, drawing inspiration from the emotional, tireless glazes of Simone Fraser. That a thing made by hand, the work and thought of a single craftsman, can endure much longer than its maker, through centuries in fact; can survive natural catastrophe, neglect and even mistreatment, underpins my work.”

Hunter Folkes

Digital Media:Strata

“I explored the socioeconomic segregation of the modern world through the lens of a vertical city of the future. Initially 3D modelled, then digitally painted, Strata is built of the bold vision of creating a new world based on reality but not of it, where the audience’s exploration and contemplation are rewarded in the uncovering of further meaning. Broken into three separate layers of stratified society, Strata examines ideas of intergenerational freedom, conformity, multiculturalism, ignorance, family and many more on a large-scale representation of the size of such ideas, crafted industriously over many months.”

Ryder Pleass

Photography:Under the Sun

“My work focuses on the private moments people have when completely relaxed. Growing up I always enjoyed and found it intriguing how people could either sunbathe or sleep on the beach for hours on end. I used this, and the influence of the photographer Max Dupain, to create a series of works where the focus isn’t on the person but more about their relaxation and how they are oblivious to the world around them.”

Thomas Potter

Graphic Design: Outbreak

“Inspired by the medium of airbrushing, my depiction of layered microorganisms represents the expansionist process of a multicultural society, with independent meanings of each of the three frames: a mask representing a sterilised culture and restriction of expression, the outbreak through immigratory processes on the petri dish, and the final overwhelming cascade of multiculturalism and individuality within a collective identity of the globe. The newspaper-like collation of background words is used to support the thematic progression between the works and their individual meanings through their specific fonts and colours to express a holistic approach to graphic design through typography.”

Thomas Ahern

Photography:Nonsensical Self Phobia

“My five-photo photography series deals with the topic of body representations in mass media. Through the construction of the centre frame as a collage, I overtly criticise the extensive use of editing in popular media to produce unrealistic body images. I also make use of third-party sources to directly provide evidence for unrealistic body images. The other works are depictions of “normal” people in the hyper-idealised and vibrant environment of studio photography. I utilise the vivid colours and manicured environment combined with the unnatural and sometimes ridiculous posing of the subjects to reflect the genre of advertising photography that is being parodied.”

Nick Coren


“Through my four graphite portraits I aim to depict and invite reflection upon the isolation that comes with age, which is particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 lockdowns. In order to instil empathy for the subject within the viewer, I positioned the subjects to look past the viewer and depicted the eyes with greater detail. The graphite medium allowed me to depict a substantial amount of detail and in combination with the high contrast monochromatic colour palate, I was able to evoke a greater degree of emotional nuance within the subjects”.

Christian Robles

Charcoal Drawing:Nature Morte

“I chose to do these four works in charcoal because it is a medium that enables strong contrasts and high intensity, which was required to portray my themes of obsession, materialism and death. These themes brought me towards the Dutch vanitas genre, with a skull as the focal point. The skull brought a high level of sophistication and detail to a work that was characterised by strong contrasts and negative space, and the rose, quill and glass helped to carry the chosen themes forward”.

Callum Riethmuller

Welded Metal Sculpture:Chashitsu

“My aim was to incorporate aspects of Japanese architecture and minimalism while representing them in a more deconstructed form. Donald Judd has been a large inspiration, as I have used a similar structure of repeating rectangular objects, showing beauty in repeating angles and shapes. The use of steel sculpture as a medium has allowed for the implementation of accurate angles and lines. My artwork also considers the Japanese concept of Ma, which describes beauty in emptiness, a theme commonly seen in Japanese tea rooms, sparking the creation of the title, Chashitsu, which refers to their architectural space.

By composing my sculpture of solely straight lines, it has a deconstructed yet recognisable form. However, I have chosen to incorporate circular forms as well to break the tension and create a more interesting and cohesive structure.”

Adrian Dower

Cast Bronze Sculpture:If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

“I was inspired by the heightened emotions and adrenaline while playing sport, and the idea that a single moment can result in two very different outcomes. I liked these two concepts together, because the two different outcomes in sport can feel like life or death when adrenaline is going through you. I also decided totry and relate these works back to Hellenistic sculpture, which depicted battles and epic mythical stories in a very emotive way, so I figured this relation would bring a sense of intensity and epic grandeur to my work. With tennis being a passion of mine, I decided to build three works depicting a “make or break” moment in a tennis match, the first being a figure in a serving position (the moment), the second being a figure celebrating (the positive outcome), and the third being a figure on their knees in despair (the negative outcome).”

Oliver Freeman

Pastel Drawing:D(r)ead

“After completing my Senior Geography Project on the ineffectiveness of NSW shark nets from Wollongong to Newcastle I was influenced by the elements of the sublime captured in the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich. I believe sharks embody the essence of the sublime, as they are both terrifying and beautiful. My work aims to show the audience an underwater world they seldom see, and the intrusion of man. I aim to challenge people’s perspectives through an interactive, almost sculptural, drawing, engaging the audience by morphing as they walk around it. The first image (in colour) is what I see as people’s perceptions of the Hammerhead shark, menacing and frightful, juxtaposed with the tragic beauty of the shark dead, stuck in the net of the second image. By portraying this subject in a realistic manner, I aim to position the viewer actively in the scene and highlight the importance of finding and using alternative methods such as drum lines and drones to protect both humans and non-threatening species of shark such as the scalloped hammerhead, now critically endangered along the NSW coast.”

Ryan Yoon

Oil Painting:Bloodline

“A king is a strong, untouchable public figure that stands as a representative for the people, for their kingdom. Yet we often forget the person, the human, that lies beneath this image, and we forget that those we idealise are just as human as us. The series of selfportraits places me in the position of a young king, more specifically the crown prince King Tae Jeong of the Joseon period. It takes me back to the roots of Korean history and culture, with the iconic attire that encapsulates the beauty of both the kingdom and art that makes one so proud to be a Korean today. Tae Jeong was a young king, growing up to be the successor of his father. Having to execute and exile those around him at such a young age, it is no doubt that the ‘human’ inside him, the young adolescent spirit, suffered. However, this idea of growing up and the pressures of society is not present in just the powerful and the elite of the world. It is within all of us. Taking inspiration from many of Shakespeare’s plays that feature the perspective of figureheads such as Macbeth, King Henry and Othello, as well as Renaissance writers like Nicollo Machiavelli, I began to see the importance of both the mask and the human wearing it. Each painting illustrates the three sides of every human, the sides that concur with Sigmund Freud’s “Ego, Superego and Id.”

Sam Hodgson

Photography:Eora Light

“My photographs capture the beauty and timeless quality of diverse natural lighting in the Australian landscape, a landscape that has the power to create diverse scenes from country to coast. Despite lighting conditions being fleeting in nature, I aimed to convey the essence of light which has endured for millennia. Hence, my title references the Aboriginal name for their nation, Eora, also known as New South Wales. It is with poignancy I set out to capture the same Australian light indigenous people have experienced for over 40,000 years; it has covered, cloaked, highlighted and shadowed their land, bringing warmth and coldness. Ultimately, I wanted to share the experience of their light.”

Thomas Dore


“I explore the interpersonal relationship between humans and the ocean, aiming to evoke a sense of mystery and tension, and allude to the experience of fear, discovery, and isolation. My main aim was to investigate the struggle for power between the lone figure and the power of the sea.”

Joshua Lin

Oil Painting:The Past within the Self

“Paying homage to the self-portraits of Velazquez, Dürer and van Eyck, I expressed my gratitude and appreciation of the masterpieces of the classical greats. Implementing my own face in my replication of their works, I was able to convey the psychological and physical impact of the past in the development of the self, a complex matter that I desired to depict through nuance, attraction, and expression.”

Alfie McEnearney

Welded Steel Sculpture:Rhapsody in Blue; Blue Notes

“Attempting to depict the single anomalous note that occurs within a jazz scale (the ‘blue note’) in physical form, I created a plethora of sculptures that were irregular and dissimilar. My work explores how the simplest of lines can be made unpredictable, dynamic, and fluid – how it takes you in one direction then impulsively pivots. With closed and open circuits, the link between the kinetic and potential energy is mirrored in the play between form and shadow. Much like the blue note in jazz music, the series plays on that indecipherable moment when a sequence changes, when it flexes into a new and intangible form. The ultramarine blue, remnant of Yves Klein, accentuates this with its nonreflective nature, stirring feelings of confusion whilst dually catching the eye of the audience.”

Raph Saxbee

Ink on Copper Etchings:Arterial Cityscapes

“My works consist of five copper plates, culminating in five prints of different areas around Sydney. My concept initially concerned the absence of life in a locked-down city. However, inspiration from printmakers like Edward Hopper and Rembrandt led me to instead focus on the dynamics between light and dark. As such, I relied heavily on plate tone during the printing process, which involves leaving more ink on certain parts of the plate and wiping more off in other areas. This was very unforgiving, as a mistake could only be seen after it was printed. As a result, each final print has countless prints which weren’t good enough. In total I did upwards of 150 prints, but that is what makes printmaking so valuable.”

And. That. Is. It. The end of the road for our magnificent 2022 cohort. To each of the boys, hearty congratulations are deserving. Directly to you, I write: along with my colleagues, we appreciate how much you missed out on during the Preliminary HSC course when we attempted to teach you while in lockdown. This makes your supreme effort to fulfill all that was required of you (and some) all the more extraordinary.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in your celebration event; it will go down as one of the best HSC Visual Arts Exhibitions we have ever hosted. A special mention in dispatches must be written of the Headmaster, and his considered responses eloquently delivered during the evening.

Gentlemen, the First 17, Artists of College Street, be conscious of keeping art as part of your lives, enriching and fulfilling them in immeasurable ways. When you visit the great museums of the world (and within Australia) you will realise all those Art History lessons have a purpose beyond being ‘examinable content’! Wherever you go next, seek out the art clubs and groups and continue painting, printing, potting, photographing and drawing. And above all, make sure you stay in touch. *OS #17 Forever