The VCE Showcase exhibition oozes with talent, featuring the works of 2018’s VCE students who will become tomorrow’s artists. And this year the Burrinja favourite has had a bit of a revamp. It has combined the Yarra Ranges and the Yarra Valley schools together into one exhibition. “This year we’ve decided to really bring everyone together in the one event,” says Toni Main, Burrinja’s Community Cultural Development Officer. All 17 school are participating from the whole Yarra Ranges area and part of that revamp has also been to add a free public program on Saturday 16 which will go from 12pm – 4pm. The Showcase is only on from Friday 15 – Monday 18 Feb, but is jam packed with things to see and do.
The public program will include a collaborative art piece that will be made in progress over the day in the space, plus a panel discussion with a combination of emerging and professional artists exploring the statement “Art is not a real career”. “That may be challenged in that panel discussion,” adds Toni. There’s also going to be speed dating for artists, where you will be able to talk to and network with other artists. A platform for young artists to be able to ask professionals some interesting questions like “How do you find your niche?” or “Did you end up doing what you thought you were going to?” Add to that music and food as well as other activities for a day full of inspiration.
Part of the VCE showcase includes an alumni program which was started last year. Two alumni each year are invited back to learn the whole process of the VCE Showcase, from visiting the schools and talking to the artists before they finish VCE, to the application process. Renee Riotto was part of the VCE Showcase in 2017 and is one of the alumni selected for this program. “The people who were involved in the exhibition previously were contacted and invited to apply for this position,” says Renee. “So I sent through an application and a writing piece about why I wanted to learn about this process and this position.” Being involved expands the alumni’s experience of the process behind the scenes. Renee has been part of this year’s showcase from the beginning to the end; making school visits and talking with the artists about their work, to being part of the selection panel and right up to installing the exhibition as well.
Claire Hyett from Monbulk College is one of the artists included in the 2019 exhibition. Her photographic portraits of her young brother expresses the hidden nature of our inner emotions. “Both of these were focusing on the vulnerability of young adolescent boys. When my brother Percy went through year 7 last year, I saw him go through that social pressure to not show emotion and not be a sensitive vulnerable person,” explained Claire. “You often have that social pressure as a male. Through these pieces I aim to capture that more vulnerable side of him, which I know that he has, and he obviously keeps hidden.”
Another of the works, this time with a strong environmental message is by Mitchell Edwards from Emerald Secondary College. His artwork titled ‘The bigger picture’ is an interactive work painted onto vertical blinds. On one side is a landscape where people have had a positive impact on the environment then on the other side, as you turn the blinds it reveals the transition to a landscape where people have had a negative impact on the environment. “It’s based in an alternative land but mainly supposed to be that we see what’s happened to their world so we should do something about it for us, before we end up the same as them,” says Mitchell.
It’s cautionary message is clear. “My motivation is for people to realise that we are having an impact whether that be positive or negative and we need to start being the change and be more considerate about what we’re doing towards the land.” Mitchell saw two perspectives of the environment from his father who was both a log truck driver and a farrier and country horseback tour guide. The first was of being one with the land and seeing for it’s beauty, but also seeing it as a resource to be used. “I also have taken a lot of inspiration from my teachers,” says Mitchell. “Both my art teachers and my outdoor education teacher. They’ve aided me in seeing the beauty of the environment for what it is and not just what it can give you.”
Elizabeth Kelly’s intimate pieces show a world of nostalgia and memory. Especially using images of collective memories that are locally based. Ordinary, familiar moments like playing backyard cricket with friends and family are captured in a sketchy style. “I wanted to make it incomplete, like when you look back at something not everything is there. You don’t know what the colour of the sky was exactly, the main part is the people and what’s happening there but again they’re not even really complete,” explains Elizabeth. “It’s more like an impression.”
Some memories are captured through an ambient moment. “The atmosphere of a memory is something that I really wanted to capture. I think the combination of the suburban landscape with the car dealership, the road and the power lines combined with the natural beauty of the sunset I think that makes a kind of unique atmosphere which is something kind of disconnected like when you look back at a memory.”
This year’s VCE showcase and program looks like being a very diverse and compelling experience. But with only a short time to savour it’s delights, you’d better pen this one in so as not to miss this fleeting event.
This year’s program
• Friday 15 Feb: Exhibition Opening Party, featuring reception and live music.
• Saturday 16 Feb: FREE Public Program day. Industry talks, artist speed dating, workshops, participatory activities and food truck. 12pm – 4pm.
• Sunday 17 Feb: General gallery admission, 10am – 4pm
• Monday 18 Feb: Private gallery tours, VCE Art and Studio Art viewings, and hear from recent VCE Art graduates. (For current VCE students only. Gallery closed to the public)
Where: Burrinja Cultural Centre
Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Drive, Upwey VIC 3158