Sydney Students Speak

Sydney Students Speak is a professional development program that offers tertiary students the chance to give a public talk at the Art Gallery of NSW. This is a great chance to get some hands-on experience in one of Australia’s major galleries and to add an interesting line to your CV.

This year, coinciding with the Archibald Prize, we focus not on portraits but on works of art in which there are no faces at all. Portraits allow us to tell stories about the sitter, the surrounding studio and maybe even the relationship between painter and subject. But how does one talk about abstract or conceptual art – art that has no apparent familiarity to the people and places around us?

Eight students will be selected to each deliver a 20-minute public talk on an abstract work of their choice in the Art Gallery of NSW collection, demonstrating that stories can indeed be told about faceless artworks.

The talks will take place at 5.30pm on Wednesday evenings from 16 September to 7 October 2015 as part of the Gallery’s Art After Hours program.

Successful applicants will be given an introduction to the Gallery, training in public speaking by the Gallery’s Public Programs professionals and the opportunity to deliver a public talk at the Gallery. Students will also turn their talk into an Art Set.

Eligibility and key dates

To be eligible, you must be a student in art, art history or a related discipline in a senior year (2nd, 3rd, Honours) or post-graduate level at a NSW tertiary institution.

You must also be available on the following days, if selected:

  • Wednesday 19 August 2015 from 6pm for an audition
  • Saturday 29 August 2015 10am – 3.30pm for a training day
  • Wednesdays 16 September – 7 October 2015, 5.30–6.30pm for all the talks

How to apply

1. Register your interest by Friday 14 August 2015, 5pm

To sign up for an audition, email with the following information:

  • your full name
  • contact phone number
  • email address
  • institution, degree name and major (if applicable)
  • student number
  • name, email address and phone number of a referee (current lecturer/tutor is ideal)
  • name of your selected artist and artwork (for the audition, the work does not have to be from the Gallery’s collection)
  • a description of what you hope to gain from participating in Sydney Students Speak (no more than 100 words)

Registered applicants will be contacted by email with further information regarding the audition.

2. Prepare for your audition

Plan a 5-minute talk on an artwork of your choice to present to the audition panel. Keep a general, non-specialist audience in mind. You may bring a PowerPoint presentation with no more than three images of the artwork you will discuss on a USB drive.