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Exhibition 2020 | Awards


VCE ART 2020


In this year like no other, we have turned to art and cultural practices to connect with one another, to share experiences and emotions, and to work through a time of significant disruption and change. Through Melbourne’s extended period of lock down, we have come to understand the role that artists play projecting their work and ideas from the studio to the world, seeking connection, producing new forms and narratives, offering unexpected encounters, constructing new communities.

In the face of extended isolation, year 12 students in 2020 have had to draw upon their creativity, imagination and connectedness, and good measures of courage and resilience. These qualities are in ample display in the work of students studying Art, Media, Studio Art, Photography, and Visual Communication and Design. Across these diverse disciplines – of increasing importance to our creative, information and knowledge economies in the twenty-first century – we see the imagination and resourcefulness of young artists and designers, collaborating, improvising and problem-solving, finding new ways of doing things, and new ways of seeing the world, in all its reality and possibility.

At the start of the year, the year 12 cohort were anticipating an expedition to Sydney to experience NIRIN, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, which this year was informed by Indigenous-led practices and philosophies, about which we still have much to learn. The prospect of this trip – which did not go ahead – would have been a life-affirming experience and attests to the commitment of the teachers at Princes Hill, and the aspirations they hold for their students. Instead, like most of us, the year 12 students have been consigned to their homes and bedrooms, leading to deep reflections about the meaning of life, what we value, and our identities and relationships to people and place.

These values and relationships are revealed in the work of the 2020 VCE art students. Whilst we aren’t able to experience their work together in the flesh, due to the dedication of teachers in the Art Department we are fortunate to experience the work of students online. It’s impressive to consider the scope of works on display, which includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video, analogue and digital photography, animation, collage and ceramics, communication and graphic design, digital and print-media, and other cross-disciplinary practices.

It’s intriguing to see the ways in which objects, materials, and personal and cultural histories are subject to creative acts of transformation, leading to magical, marvellous works, full of beauty, vulnerability, and emotional register, which jolt us into a more intense relationship with the world in which we live.

It is humbling to see sophisticated ideas applied with technical dexterity, engaging critical themes including cultural identity, sexuality and gender, the environment, relationships, the poetry of everyday life, and of the emotions.

Creativity is a lifelong endeavour, whatever path, profession or personal life we might follow. Art gives us the ability to handle complexity and ambiguity, problem-solving, communication, self-discipline and teamwork. In the decades ahead, the 2020 graduating students will develop new experiences, new world views and networks, but their experience at school – and in the Art Department – will provide rich and resonant resources to draw upon for years to come. It is an exciting prospect.

Artists hold up a mirror to society, revealing the world to us in new and unexpected ways. Encouraging people to think differently, artists also promote a critical and inclusive culture of understanding, empathy and tolerance. Social inclusion, and an appreciation of difference, will be all the more critical as we emerge from the pandemic.

Congratulations to the teachers in the Art Department. Their commitment and enthusiasm is reflected in the ambition and quality of students’ work on display. And above all, congratulations to the students – young artists and citizens to be – for the inspiration and example of your work, and for navigating a year like no other. All the very best for the exciting years ahead as you form and shape new communities and embark into the world at large.


Max Delany

Artistic Director & CEO, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art