The winners of the 2013 Artwrite competition were selected by the editors of ARTAND Australia magazine and Leeanne Carr, coordinator of secondary education programs at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Their winning entries are reproduced here, unedited.
Click on the title to see the work in the Gallery collection or find out more about the exhibition.
Section 1: Art labels
Winner, intermediate: years 7–10
Sefton High School, year 9
Wall drawing #1091: arcs, circles and bands (room) 2003
Life is a blessing, but it may be contradicted upon the barriers to a ‘paradise-like’ life we hope to achieve. The multi-coloured arcs and circles express never-ending depression and anxiety we experience and the bands exemplify the restricted and collinear choices we are forced to take, when alternatives aren’t available. The pure door stands align depicting the hope, happiness and success which are in grasp, with a bold step into the blissful future we aspire.
Winner, senior: years 11-12
Penrith High School, year 11
Stone line 1977
Across time, humans have taken inspiration of perfection from nature, yet have ultimately sought to abandon nature’s own perfection. We have taken the uneven stone, cherished its impeccable strength, and built a thousand roads from its tar. Yet no man would walk as confidently if the roads he strode were made of untainted, rugged stones – and not the familiar passivity of tar. Long presents and humours this notion in Stone line as none of the audience are permitted to touch his work- due to artistic conventions – showing man’s fear and reluctance to travel the rough road.
Section 2: Art essay
Winner, intermediate: years 7–10
North Sydney Girls High School, year 10
what do you want? 2002
all MOMENTS stop here and together we become every memory that has ever been 2002
if there were anything but desert, saturday 2002
if there were anything but desert, wednesday 2000
Walking through the AGNSW’s Contemporary Gallery, a haunting melody reaches one’s ears. Upon finding the source, one is confronted with a brightly lit room containing two isolated clowns (if there were anything but desert, saturday/wednesday), a large looping sound and wall installation (what do you want?), and a single window (all MOMENTS stop here and together we become every memory that has ever been). This is the exhibition space of Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss mixed media artist whose works often bear sombre, disquieting themes with a sense of timelessness that connects with the audience on personal and universal levels. All four works are visibly separate in their own manner, yet connect and relate with each other to form a sense of isolation and disconnection.
The idea of repetition is emphasised through the mosaic-like installation, as well as from the looped conversation between a man and a woman that emanates from speakers within the installation. The conversation is fraught with uncertainty, and miscommunication is evident, a problem that is prevalent in an increasingly technology-dependent society. Exhaustion, as though resulting from the repetition, is felt through the cheerless clowns lying oblivious and indifferent to the looped soundtrack.
Amongst the dispassionate tones of the conversation and the unsettling presence of the clowns, a single darkened window hangs on an expanse of wall. This plexiglass sculpture, 160.4cm in height, appears to offer an escape from the tension but, on closer inspection, merely holds a reflection of the room, now saturated with darkness.
In this exhibition, Rondinone creates a cycle of aimlessness, a limbo that envelops the audience. The viewer is confronted with common communication problems in relationships, the disconnection during human interactions in today’s society, and how miscommunication can intensify isolation. This is a highly thought-provoking and worthwhile exhibition that leaves a deep impression.
Winner, intermediate: years 11-12
St Andrew’s Cathedral School, year 12
With a looming Eurozone bailout and 25 per cent unemployment, I can’t imagine it’s the greatest of their worries, but there’s an old belief in the world of art history that the Spanish can’t draw. According to Francisco Sánchez Cantón, director of the Prado in the Sixties, “the Spanish artistic temperament is given more to the magic of colour than the discipline of drawing”. However, this notion is all but eradicated when one stands before the vast array of drawings in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Renaissance to Goya exhibition, curated by Mark McDonald (British Museum) and Peter Raissis (Art Gallery NSW). A period of exceptional cultural brilliance, the Renaissance in Spain saw the emergence of artistic genius and a sensitive reexamination of the lives of the Spanish people. The exhibition displays the superb sacred and secular sketches of the European artists that worked during Spain’s ‘Golden Age’ that spanned some 250 years.
The exhibition begins with Philip II’s moving of court and the capital to Madrid in 1561. The new political centre of the monarchy became a city of cultural and artistic vibrancy. Madrid began to attract artists from across Europe, enriching the artistic landscape of the city and sculpting a new identity for the new capital. With this cultural and artistic reformation simmering beneath the steps of the Spanish court, artists such as Diego Velázquez and Alonso Cano redefined the art scene over the course of the 16th and 17th Century.
The first work of the exhibition is Alonso Berreguete’s sensitive drawing, titled Assumption of the virgin. The sweeping lines and impulsive brushstrokes at the feet create a sense of movement that envelops the work, almost as if it were a photograph, the figure caught in an intimate instant of prayer. Unlike many of the works that emerged from this period, the drawings and prints showcased in this exhibition study single moments in the lives of the consecrated, as well as courtiers and commoners.
The exhibition, however, is not limited to the men of Madrid’s musings of the Madonna, but extends farther to encapsulate the reformation of form and functionality of prints and drawings in Spain. Chronologically curated, as you walk through the gallery you see how the functionality of this marginal art dominated Spain and furthermore the development of its dominance of Europe’s artistic landscape. Many of the works exhibited are studies as well as drafts for paintings and other commission works for sculptures and buildings.
This exhibition, unlike others, captures the considerations, cares and contemplations of an entire generation of artists. It summarises the forethoughts that were instrumental to the monumental works of art that we take time to notice nowadays. The fineness lies in its functionality, art intended to go unnoticed. It is subtle and unassuming, modest and understated. And yet, these musings, these drawings, these sketches, these are the foundations for all the artists who followed and all those to come. Goya’s darkest sketches, depicting scenes of anguish and torment, are certainly a testament to the form of drawing but also the functionality of art: a tool. Art is an extension of ourselves that fulfills a need to express as well as preserve. This exhibition is not only a reminder of Spain’s forgotten and undervalued history of drawing but also a tribute to the beauty of art and the function it serves for humanity.