Review: Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition 2018

Showcasing the work of 29 emerging artists, the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition 2018 officially opened on Thursday evening.

Exhibiting in the Drill Hall at the Torrens Parade Ground, the show is an impressive display of graduate talent across South Australian tertiary institutions (the Academy partnering with our three universities and TAFE SA).

Established in 1994, the Academy has a proud history of boosting the careers of emerging artists by coordinating diverse national and international opportunities — grants, residencies, commissions, masterclasses.

At the VIP Vernissage, which unfolded the night before the official opening, two recipients for a 3-month residency at the British School at Rome were announced — artists Tamara Baille and Yusuf Hayat, who also won The City of Adelaide Award. A total of $60,000 in awards were granted to the participating artists, providing not only encouragement but a tangible reward for some working in a precarious, and woefully underpaid, sector.

Carly Snoswell, Since 2011 (detail.) (photo: Lee Walter)

There is an undercurrent of traditional feminine, craft-based art at the exhibition, in the form of modified embroideries by Sera Waters (who won the The Hill Smith Gallery/University of South Australia Postgraduate Award) and a rug-cum-Beyonce-shrine by Carly Snoswell. The arts industry has evolved since the days that Ruth Asawa’s metallic orbs were derided as ‘women’s work’ by critics, and here the traditionally domestic pursuits of sewing, weaving, and embroidering were embraced.

Highlights also include striking photography by Joseph Häxan (who won the Bluethumb Photography Award) and Brianna Speight (winning The Undergraduate Award for Excellence). Their images feature bold tones and floating bodies, reminiscent of the work of Prue Stent and the late Ren Hang.

Joseph Haxan, City to Void

A number of the graduates have already exhibited their work in local and national galleries — Sera Waters, by way of example, has had her work displayed at ACE Open, Hugo Michell, and the University of Western Australia, amongst others. Traversing the wide-open hall, witnessing unusual and insightful works across art disciplines alongside each other leaves the viewer with the distinct impression that the future is bright for emerging artists in SA.

The Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition 2018 is open from Friday 16 February to Sunday 11 Mar, 10:30pm to 4:30pm daily at Drill Hall, Torrens Parade Ground

Header image: Yusuf Hayat, Mashrabiya

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