Current Issue #488

Bright futures on show in ACSA's 2019 graduate exhibition

James Field
Elizabeth Jenner, 1,440

Each year the exhibition of graduates’ work at the Adelaide Central School of Art offers a glimpse into the future practice of a new crop of local artists.

In December 2019 The Graduate Exhibition was held at the Adelaide Central School of Art (ACSA) – an important milestone for the 26 students graduating from their Bachelor of Visual Art (Honours) and Bachelor of Visual Art degrees where they are given the opportunity to present a body of work that showcases their practice. What was striking about this group was the sheer diversity of the work on display and the high level and well thought out presentation of these works.

“This year’s graduates have been really ambitious. There is an unusually high volume of large-scale work. These students have been challenged to make complex connections between ideas and materials,” says Penny Griggs, chief executive of ACSA . “Each student has created a body of work that reflects who they are, offering insights into the type of art practice they will pursue in the future.”

Andrew Purvis, ACSA’s final year supervisor and exhibitions curator, adds: “The unique way the degree is constructed means that the second semester of third year is like a mini honours year. The student has a supervisor and a studio and they dedicate the entire six months to a single project and you can really see that in the level of investigation and investment that occurs.”

With students working across a range of media including performance, digital video, painting, ceramics, drawing, installation and sculptural works it’s difficult to highlight artists among the group. However, a few artists stood out for their unique and thoughtful practice.

Chiranjika Grasby, AKA. Poko Ono
Sia Duff
Chiranjika Grasby at work

Peter Kucharski’s works, created using tattoo techniques, were exquisite, in particular his drawings applied using a tattoo machine onto vintage postcards. His practice involves expanding the media of drawing to incorporate tattooing, and adapting this to a fine art practice. Like the human body and the art form of tattooing, the vintage postcards contain history and stories. Kucharski also experimented with other surfaces including bottles to investigate how tattooing might be further developed to include different surfaces. His efforts were recognised with the Board of Governors and Guildhouse Award for Excellence.

Chiranjika Grasby also explores tattoos but in a very different way to Kucharski: she paints portraits of her family members and people that are close to her with imagined tattoos. Grasby is interested in how tattoos reflect personalities, and how people’s histories are described by what they wear on their bodies. Her small paintings on found timber are beautiful – the roughness of the timber’s surface contrasts with the delicacy and precision of the painting.

“The students have been exploring some weighty issues, including climate change, sexuality, and materialism,” says Griggs. “The human condition, and the way in which we connect with one another, has also been a particular focus, with works that address ties to place, the power of memory and the need for memorialisation, lifestyle choices, and relationships with the animal world.”

James Field
Josie Dillon, mast-er
Pete Kucharski, Spirit of Duty

Georgia Button’s five-minute digital video, Space of In-Betweeness, looks at our relationship to place. Button grew up in the country but once she left home found she had quite a nomadic lifestyle. This is reflected through the work, which uses focus to transport the viewer from one location to another. Button received two awards for her mesmerising video work: the Adelaide Central School of Art and Artlink Magazine Award for a high achieving student in Art History and Theory, and the James Martin Award fora high-achieving BVA graduate.

Honours graduate Marisha Matthews’ series of skilful paintings are inspired by the small rituals that happen every night in terms of cleaning and purifying our domestic spaces. Her paintings act as portals into these ordinary practices as she questions whether or not they are replacing religious rituals. Matthews focuses on layering and the effect of light, and how it can change and distort objects. Gemma Rose Brook’s paintings were also a highlight: she uses the sgraffito technique to draw out her bold underpainting, creating vibrant lines that make her landscapes come alive.

The Graduate Exhibition offered an insight into the future of these students as practising artists; it looks bright for the class of 2019. Whether artists were expanding the idea of painting or drawing, or exploring unique materials and techniques, the standard was high and a testament to ACSA and its teachers.

Adelaide central school of art

Jane Llewellyn

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