Express Yourself is an annual MAG&M exhibition of artworks by HSC Visual Arts students, selected from the 20 secondary schools across the Northern Beaches.

This year we celebrate an awesome group of young artists who dig deep, creating some compelling work during what has been a very challenging period. The calibre of the 58 works produced by the 2021 cohort of HSC Visual Art students and selected as part of this year’s Express Yourself, was exceptional.

2022 winners

We congratulate all the award winners.

Theo Batten Youth Art Award – Joint winners

  • Noah Bloom - Akuna - sound and film installation - Barrenjoey High School
  • Lila Kools - The cognitive deconstruction of 28.03.04 - multi-media installation - Barrenjoey High School

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Shared winners

  • Karoun Zouain - Daily vignettes - acrylic on board - Northern Beaches Secondary College – Freshwater Campus
  • Breeze Williams - They flash upon the inward eye - photography - Stella Maris College
  • Maya O'Neill - Nature must be noticed - collection of works - Northern Beaches Secondary College – Freshwater Senior Campus

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award – Highly Commended

  • Oonagh O'Dwyer - The episode - Photography, digital media - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus
  • Elle Fitzgerald - My pantheon of gods and goddesses - painting - Northern Beaches Secondary College – Manly Campus
  • Mary Bradhurst - Worlds of joy - watercolour on paper - Barrenjoey High School
  • Emma Sutton - Resisting time - charcoal on paper in four parts - Oxford Falls Grammar School

People’s Choice Award - Winner

  • Charlie Burt - The evocative underground – textiles - The Forest High School

People’s Choice Award - Runner-up

  • Elle Fitzgerald - My pantheon of gods and goddesses – painting - Northern Beaches Secondary College – Manly Campus

Participating artists


Noah Bloom, Akuna - Barrenjoey High School

Sound and film installation

Theo Batten Youth Art Award - Joint Winner

Artist statement

Fire, water, and light are an integral part of the natural world, and I wanted to explore these elements in a uniquely abstract way. Creating music that reflects the interaction between light and movement remained a key focus throughout the work. The use of a macro lens enabled me to highlight details not usually seen by the naked eye. The six sections of the film are constructed using pacing and a diverse range of instrumental sounds, ultimately building toward a climatic resolution.

* The word Akuna stems from colloquial Indigenous phrases meaning the way forward and flowing water.


Lila Kools, The cognitive deconstruction of 28.03.04 - Barrenjoey High School

Artist statement

“No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.” – Oscar Wilde

When considering this, I understood that an important role of the artist is to give abstract ideas a physicality in concrete artworks.

Cognitive Deconstruction of 28.03.04 is a multi-media installation that provides layered perspectives of the concept of ‘identity’. My artwork is a ‘self-representation’. It is not the familiar traditional portrait that offers a one-dimensional picture of ‘skin’. It is not really a ‘self’-portrait; it is a representation of the inner world of self. The work has strong links to Jung’s personality theory: the ego (our conscious mind), and its shadow, which exists as part of the unconscious mind, and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. This concept has been manipulated and embedded in the work through the varied expressions and emotions to convey these two aspects of the psyche.

My work represents aspects of my identity, inserting the ‘agents of socialisation’, to make the work truly representative of the process of ‘constructing’ identity, which is ongoing. The artwork is interactive: the audience can consciously or unconsciously step onto the carpet underneath the triptych to view the work. This is OK. The carpet represents the shadow self that remains hidden in the unconscious, but unknowingly all our interactions and relationships are influenced by this hidden ‘self’.

Theo Batten Youth Art Award - Joint Winner


Karoun Zouain, Daily vignettes - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Campus

Artist statement

The older I grow, the more I come to realise that the mundane situations of ‘before, in-between and after’ are the most efficient for familial connections and holistic health. I believe I have achieved a warm familiarity, and appreciation for the small vignettes in life that are often overlooked or considered childish. Through the wondrous lens of a child, you are able to find immense beauty within life’s imperfect scenes.

My work aims to express the excitement of childhood; the crammed lines and objects demonstrate spontaneous energy using mise en-scene, inspired by the work of Margaret Olley; the multi-layered colour I learned from the work of Cezanne; the open spaces evoke a feeling of potential, influenced by Edward Hooper. The depiction of my father is a pivotal guide through the chaos, with his daily teachings of gratefulness and resourcefulness.

Through my Armenian and Argentinian heritage, I have learned the value of food – good food, shared food, and its capacity to achieve a sense of belonging. I approached my body of work intending to find joy in both the process, and the outcome.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Shared winner


Breeze Williams, They flash upon the inward eye - Stella Maris College

Artist statement

My landscape series explores the adventures on which I embarked during this lockdown period. The themes of being surrounded by nature and solitude have encapsulated my life this past year.

My main source of inspiration came from poems written by the Lake District poet, William Wordsworth, in particular, his poem, Daffodils. Excerpt:

                “For oft, when on my couch I lie in vacant or in a pensive mood

                They flash upon my inward eye

                Which is the bliss of solitude”

Through my photography, I have been able to capture moments in time for all to see; instead of these memories being explained through poetry, photography has given me the avenue to explore events visually. The book of photos allows the audience to delve into past experiences, and memories of landscapes, and nature.

My practice is vital, as photographers connect humans to the past; these pictures hold stories that can be experienced and remembered in perpetuity. The beauty of nature that has been discovered, and described by poets, can be captured and photographed.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Shared winner


Maya O'Neill, Nature must be noticed - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Senior Campus

Artist statement

My body of work explores my physical and spiritual connection to Scotland Island. Materially, I have observed, drawn, painted, and collected naturally occurring forms and fragments of trees on the Island, to correlate the relationship humankind has with nature, which is ultimately objectified and taken for granted. During the process, I have learned to accept and appreciate the natural world and all its beauty. I aim to draw attention to the subtle colours and forms of Australian flora, a precious resource that is constantly under threat.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Shared winner



Oonagh O'Dywer, The episode - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

Eight years ago, my mum lost her memory, in what we have now come to refer to as ‘The Episode’.  A series of stylised portraits and a conceptual film unveil an unlikely salvation to the tangled web of amnesia: crochet.

Hand-crafted headpieces made from beading, and a combination of textured fabric, and a crocheted flower that resembles the chrysanthemums of the bouquet, contrast a black background in bright red and white, like a beacon of hope. Lighting from the side of the face becomes darker towards the centre of the work, and the central video, whereby the further away from ‘The Episode’ you are, the more knowledge - symbolised by the light -is restored.

The work expresses childhood naivety, idolisation of parental figures, and a subverted vulnerability of a caretaker who is forced to be taken care of. This childhood naivety is portrayed in the doll-like subject matter of the youthful figure, and the regal appearance of the mother through the lens of a child. There is a feeling of ignorant bliss from someone who does not remember, and an uncomfortable breaking of the fourth wall, forcing an acknowledgment of the distress and displacement of the persona.

The Episode represents my personal relationship with my mum and expresses a very real initial state of amusement turned to fear, that is masked by ignorance.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Highly commended


Elle Fitzgerald, My pantheon of gods and goddesses - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

The gods walk among us. I capture them within the personalities of individuals populating my daily life. Occasionally divinity surprises in its manifestations: Hecate, Greek sovereign of the graveyard, is a wise young girl; Venus, Roman goddess of beauty, is a cultured elderly woman; Papa Legba, Voodoo trickster, is a mercurial Caucasian mother; Loki, Norse jester, is a local barista. They enjoy a ‘Last Supper’ brunch at the local Press Ink Café; all my subjects’ lives are connected by this café.

This visual representation of my unorthodox informal spirituality combines Renaissance and contemporary artistic practice – from grisaille oil painting to the artist’s book – reflecting the eclectic nature of my personal pantheon of gods and goddesses from a spectrum of temporal and cultural locations.

My work aims to embody the mounting significance of spiritual fluidity in an increasingly globalised community, curating religious iconography to reframe the symbols of eight gods and goddesses within a contemporary context. I liberate divinity from the constraints of church, temple, and altar, introducing worship as an informal observation of the people who comprise humanity and represent its essence.

I am influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, Solomon’s Ars Goetica, Johannes Vermeer, Abraham Bloemaert, Caravaggio, Thomas Cooper Gotch, Maximillian Pirner, Patrick Clair and Frances F Denny.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Highly commended


Mary Bradhurst, Worlds of joy, Barrenjoey High School

Artist statement

“Every day I discover even more beautiful things. It is intoxicating me, and I want to paint it all – my head is bursting” – Claude Monet

The natural world is constantly changing, and I feel blessed to witness these tiny moments of beauty, moments that are my calm within the chaos. I chose a small format and watercolour as my medium. The fluidity of watercolour as a medium helped in replicating the flux of the natural world. I hope these reflections reveal how accessible joy is in the ever-changing everyday of nature.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Highly commended


Emma Sutton, Resisting time - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

After witnessing generations of my family deal with the devastating decline of dementia, I really wanted to create a work that would portray this silent struggle – being one that I have, unfortunately, seen being fought by even the strongest of family members. Through incorporating parts of brain scans, and faces in a spiralling action, I take inspiration from Brett Whiteley’s unique style to convey this unforgiving, uncontrollable, and overall heartbreaking part of the human life cycle.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award - Highly commended


Jade Andersen, Son and daughter of man - Stella Maris College

Artist statement

The traditional Japanese world view of wabi-sabi is centered around the concepts of transience and imperfection. It appreciates beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’ in nature. This aesthetic struck me, as for so long I had conformed to the idea that perfection was the only way for me to create works of professional competency. When I found the process of eco-printing, I found myself enjoying the partially uncontrollable nature of the process, leaving me with a sense of independence. These works represent that sense of independence, and an endless oscillation of meaning.

I have drawn inspiration from Rene Magritte’s famous surrealist painting Son of Man, that features a businessman with an apple obscuring most of his face, in a realistic creation that simultaneously seeps out of the borders of realism. Magritte’s work holds religious connotations that I have adapted into a feminist approach.

In his works I see a reference to the stigma of the ‘boys club’, a place for businessmen who think alike, but hide behind their careers. The inclusion of the women in my work directly contrasts Magritte’s businessman, and the revealed faces ‘sans apple’ follow a quest for humans to be seen, and not to be ‘perfect’.

I am not attempting to transfigure my subjects into in an enlightened state, as per Jesus, but rather take on a wabi-sabi imperfect state that is authentic and perfectly imperfect.


Kirrily Barg, Bloodlines - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Campus

Artist statement

Australia’s current political climate concerning the treatment of refugees, or ‘boat people’ (as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott coined), is one of cruel hypocrisy. We force migrants to assimilate into our Australian culture, or push them into the outskirts of our neighbourhoods as pariahs.

My collection of works explores the hypocrisy of our leaders through the narrative of my family’s journey – the verdant Boyle clan who left Ireland in search of broader horizons, and the Prussian blue Barg family who fled the Nazis. It is through the exploration of colour, portraiture, and symbolism that I uncover the voyage of my ‘bloodlines’.  By interweaving red thread throughout my work, I reveal the notion that we are all in fact ‘boat people’.

I have been inspired by William Kentridge, John Brack, and Doris Salcedo.


Zoe Beaulieu-Asselin, Before the rain pours - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Cromer Campus

Artist statement

My work explores the nostalgic feeling of the carefree days experienced in youth, and depicts my sister jumping into the clouds, symbolising no stress or worries. This whimsical image suggests that individuals should live their youth to full potential until the worries pile onto them.

Over my photograph, I project a time lapse of clouds drifting through the sky portraying time moving. My work encourages the audience to reflect upon how they use their time.  As my time lapse resembles ocean waves, I have added the sound of waves crashing to create an even more immersive piece.

I have been inspired by the immersive art practice of videographer Bill Viola and contemporary photographer Rosemary Laing.


Olivia Bellevue, Equilibrium - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Mackellar Girls Campus

Artist statement

My work is a conceptual investigation of the human condition, one that transcends boundaries of the physical and metaphysical, the emotional and the psychological. Motion is used both as subject matter and technique, connecting the material and conceptual investigations - a reminder of our own physical temporality as well as our world in a state of flux.

Censored vs Uncensored

Captive vs Liberated

Tangible vs Intangible

We seek equilibrium


Evie Buckley, “Vivat Regina” (Long Live the Queen) - Covenant Christian School

Artist statement

“And evil takes a human form in Regina George.”

Inspired by Tina Fey’s Mean Girls (2004), my artwork challenges generational female stereotypes perpetuated by modern-day society. While Mean Girls mocks harsh stereotypes limiting women to the Freudian angel-whore-madonna trichotomy, Rosalind Wiseman, author of the original book Queen Bees and Wannabes, offers little criticism to this polarised perception of women. She asks, ''Haven't I told you girls are evil?''

Fey’s characters are depicted as performative, caricatured chess pieces surrounded by underdeveloped, childlike pawns who stare in awe at their female role models and predecessors. Whispers envelop the queen, who discloses feelings of entrapment within her social standing. This subverted ‘Queen Bee’ is key to the work, emphasising the complexity of identity: women cannot be reduced purely to ‘good’ or ‘evil’.


Alexander Burford-Hartman, Together in unison - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

I have created a body of work that combines my two passions: music and art.  It is a representation of not only who I am, but who musicians are.

Music represents more than merely notes on a page, it forms a community that develops identity and connections, no matter how similar or different.  A musician’s identity is formed by their instrument, and I sought to demonstrate this element of identity in my work. I also wanted to illustrate the symbiotic relationship a musician has with their instrument.

In order for an instrument and musician to be seen and heard, they are reliant upon one another. A deep connection is formed between artists and their instrument or instruments.

I commenced building my body of work by using photographic images to capture the relationship between musician and instrument. I applied photographic filters to the images depicting an abstract form where the musician and instrument become one, almost fused together, demonstrating and strengthening the strong bond that exists between them.

Finally, I printed my solar plates and lino cuts, which again reinforces the symbiosis between the two, representing both artist and instrument in printed format, which, along with my photographic images, were printed onto cotton paper.


Charlie Burt, The evocative underground - The Forest High

Artist statement

My body of work explores the interconnectedness we have to our surrounding environment. The diverse beauty of nature and root systems that grow underneath us is communicated through the combination of contrasting textiles and fibres, to reflect the diverse nature of what we can and cannot see.

The use of an earthy green and brown colour palette represents colours found in and beneath nature. Nature is ever-changing and unpredictable; much like human life. 

My series of photos evokes the memories we experience in nature, and how we can find inspiration in such places. The close-up shots explore the progression of my hand-woven technique, enhanced through the integration of unconventional materials, giving the piece subtle hints of realism. The viewer is encouraged to feel the fibres and intrusions of those materials to reflect upon the importance and value of nature, and further, to consider what lies beneath us to make these spaces what they are.

My art making practice has been influenced by the study and interpretation of artists Rebecca Vincent, Jacqueline Surdell and Teresa Barboza.


Connor Callard, Untitled - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Balgowlah Boys Campus

Artist statement

My body of work was inspired by my love of shoes and the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh. My first design is a wedge high heel depicting Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Sunflowers, that I fabricated and built into an actual wearable pair of shoes. My second design is a stiletto boot depicting da Vinci’s gadgets and inventions. Lastly my third design is a stiletto high heel that I designed as a representation of my own ‘quirky’ personality.


Madi Cook, Limelight - Stella Maris College

Artist statement

Limelight aims to challenge viewers, and provoke debate. It is a personal social commentary on the misconceptions we have of certain public figures, who we hold in high regard. We often perceive public figures solely based on what the media tells us, whether this figure is someone we as ‘normal, generic’ people should strive to be, or someone we should despise, and who we send waves of hate non-verbally behind a computer screen or through handwritten letters.

I use drawing to symbolise the ease with which we misconstrue reality to fit a certain agenda or statement.   My intention with my work is to suggest to the audience that we are completely ‘in the dark’ about what is really happening in our world, particularly regarding those whom we consider ‘inspirational’ or ‘influential’.  We cannot wait any longer to shed light on the secrets that are hidden from us, to avoid destroying our morality.


Claudia Cox, Gaia’s fortitude - St Luke’s Grammar School

Artist statement

My series of artworks, Gaia’s fortitude, was inspired by the first poem I ever learned, Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’. Excerpt:

“I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains…”- Dorothea Mackellar

I knew at a young age that our country was resilient. As I have grown, our media has become saturated with footage of uncontrolled blazes, unforgiving drought, and land submerged in torrents of water. The ancient landscape that we call home inspired the title of my artwork. Gaia is the personification of land, an ancient deity representing Mother Nature. It is in her fortitude that I see beauty.

My artwork aims to convey the stoic beauty of our country, alongside the hardship it endures. I explore the recent surge in climatic disasters and the continual battle our landscape faces. Following the bushfires of 2020, our media and art were saturated by scenes of destruction left in the wake of the disaster.

My artwork is a homage to the resilience of the landscape, with incredible regrowth framing the tragedies that have scarred our country.


Charlie Davis, I see me - Northern Beaches Christian School

Artist statement

Memories are what help us define our lives. They have helped me grow as an individual, and navigate through my relationships and life experiences. They provide each of us with a unique sense of self; but for my two grandads, their sense of self has been lost to Alzheimer’s disease.

I have watched them struggle to recollect old memories, but I have never seen them forget what matters to them most: family. Both Pa and Poppy are role models. They continue to love and care for us, always putting our well-being over their own, and keeping active with their favourite hobbies.

Pa continues to build puzzles with us and share his favourite childhood food. Poppy collects funky and interesting items, educating us kids on the history and memories found within his tiny shed, whilst making sure to end the day with dancing in the record room. These hobbies and memories have allowed them to overcome their Alzheimer’s, and function throughout each day. These memories have become a part of me. Their constant perseverance and positivity are traits I look up to.

I am so thankful that I can recreate these memories again for them today. Lino prints perfectly capture the uniqueness of memories as each carve is unrepeatable. I hope to help them stay young through recreating and remembering these memories together, and through the expression of my lino prints.


Cara Dougal, Reflected melancholy - The Pittwater House School

Artist statement

Human relationships with cats are typically depicted as pet and owner. My work questions this relationship. When tragedy struck, I re-evaluated how I interacted with my cat, and the bond that we had. I came to realise that my perceptions were skewed: the physical pain was his; the emotional pain was mine.

Through this episode and his subsequent recovery, all the grief, sorrow, and emotional turmoil was felt by me, and not him. The number four typically represents solidity and all that is whole, however, three is also complete and symbolic, and a physical absence does not diminish either the soul or the spirit. The confronting stitches in the work signify the trauma, but also remind us that while the wound fades, the scar will remain.


Grace Drury, Woman - Davidson High School

Artist statement

Every day, hidden from the eyes of the public, women are met with ignorance, pain, and dehumanisation in virtual domestic prisons. My work aims to represent the loss of humanity experienced by women facing such oppression, particularly in the domestic scene.

Each panel reflects a progression in loss, with the hyperrealist imagery of the woman as she loses her humanistic qualities, reflecting a gradual surrendering to gender-based restraints.  The drawings portray the fragility and depth of feminine expectations, inviting viewers to reflect on their own experiences with their outward gender expression.


Sean Duffy, After the firestorm (Firestorm aftermath) - St Paul’s Catholic College

Artist statement

After the firestorm was inspired by the hazard reduction burns that developed into a large-scale bushfire at Manly’s North Head Wildlife Reserve in 2020.

Out of control fires are a phenomenon that have devastated the Australian landscape and have negatively impacted native ecosystems in recent years. My work aims to remind us of this destruction by portraying the impacted landscapes stripped of their natural beauty and devastated by disaster.


Poppy Edols, Temporal - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Mackellar Girls Campus

Artist statement

My body of work aims to distill and celebrate the transitory, aligning with Impressionistic conventions of the atmospheric and ephemeraI.  During my process, I observed of the shifting conventions of Impressionism in response to the changing demands of my subjects. Through using oil paint, I built up layers of transparent colour, creating the impression of painting with light, and reinforcing my conceptual exploration of ephemerality.

Throughout my process, I shifted from drawing on historical icons of Australian Impressionism; Clarice Beckett, Arthur Streeton, and Sydney Long - to contemporary artists, who informed my transition into the use of pink underpainting. In working with a saturated and synthetic colour, I aim to revive the tradition of conventional Impressionism, once subversive in its own right, revealing the ironic constancy of transience.


Imogen Edwards, Hold on, London is calling - Mater Maria Catholic College

Artist statement

My artwork explores my feelings about living in Sydney for the last two years.  I am originally from London, and have struggled with the feeling of being disconnected, as I remember my fond memories of home.  I have used a brown colour pallet to represent loneliness and alienation.

I have also used a cold and distant blue for the faceless identities to represent feelings of alienation, as I felt unable to connect to anyone. However, through the two years I have been here, I have found elements to hold onto, reminding me that I am not alone. I created bright yellow 3D handles to represent holding on and not letting go. The handles link to the paintings of London, and I can hold on to the memories of home, whilst finding who I am in a totally new environment.


Kayleigh Greig, Extinction Investigation - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

Roadkill, habitat loss, oil spills, climate change, invasive species, poaching - these are the realities faced by wildlife. We are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, but this time it is no asteroid or natural process that is abolishing earth’s biodiversity - the cause is a single species: us.

I was inspired to create my artwork after watching the documentary, A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough. More than ever, I became aware of the deteriorating state of the environment, and the need to educate people about the crisis.

This led me to explore different forms of media such as lino printing, coloured pen, watercolour, acrylic painting, digital media, and photography, under the common theme of a detective investigation into our crime of pushing animal species into extinction. As a wildlife rescuer, I was able to photograph real creatures, all affected in some way by humanity’s carelessness.

I encourage viewers to consider the many perpetrators of crimes against wildlife, and what actions must be taken to protect the animals we have left.


Nina Grozdanova, Reconstructed memories - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

My body of work explores the interdependence of the past, present and future. It focuses on reconstructed memories and how the past is always changing. Overall, my work aims to evoke a sense of nostalgia, transcending through time and place as the audience is immersed within the paintings.

My paintings have a personal connection for me, as I used old family photographs and morphed them into a composition, drawing on memories from my parents and grandparents, making reference to my heritage through the portrayal of Persian architecture.

Through the large, expressive, abstracted paintings, I aim to engulf the audience within the painting, invoking a memory or thought as opposed to showing an image. The organic shapes create a whimsical landscape, and the neutral colour scheme creates a comforting atmosphere. By using oil paint on canvas, I was able to use glazing and impasto techniques to create a tactile texture.


Ondine Hall, Ondine’s curse - Northern Beaches Christian School

Artist statement

My artmaking is inspired by the legend of ‘Ondine’s Curse’, a traditional European mythological story behind the origins of my name, Ondine. Through my artmaking practice I seek to convey a narrative of a romantic yet twisted tale, to engage the audience with an intimate tale that centres on human emotions and relationships, and explores the genre of portraiture.

My artmaking process involved directing and orchestrating the scene, taking photographs, and editing them through Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Developing my imagery into paintings allowed me to explore the textural qualities of oil paint, giving greater flexibility to develop a dark tonal range and a more subjective approach to my artmaking. By building up layers within the painting I could expand my colour palette.

Water becomes a recurring theme, as does the imagery of the clutching of hands, observed as a metaphor for Ondine and the Prince being restrained within their own cruel fates.


Samantha Hargy, Needs versus wants - Pittwater High School

Artist statement

My body of work represents my individual consumption of fashion in contemporary society. My wearable creation, made from receipts and swing tags, is symbolic of fast fashion consumerism, and contrasts with its presentation as a piece of haute couture.

This visual language emulates the images of the piles of clothing that represent mass consumerism, a growing issue associated with the cheap prices of fast fashion and brand names that are revolutionising our world as society desires all things materialistic and trendy.

My intention is to allow individuals to reflect on their own fast fashion consumption.


Nicholas Hawkins, Biophilia - The Pittwater House School

Artist statement

My work explores the ideology of biophilia, a hypothesis that proposes that humans have an innate tendency to interact or be associated with forms in the natural world. This idea really stood out to me, and heavily influenced my decisions when creating this work, as the ‘biophilic’ design element incorporates aspects of nature amongst man-made structures such as buildings.

I sought to reflect this idea through each of the videos, taking an original shot and manipulating and editing it to create a contrast between the natural and man-made world; the result aiming to represent human impact on nature, and reflect on how humans’ biophilic bond with nature is being ruined through climate change, and will ultimately lead to it being destroyed if we do not change our actions.

My aim is to encourage the audience to reflect on the ideology of biophilia, as well as their personal relationship with nature and their own biophilic tendencies within their life.


Sabine Haworth, Delaying the inevitable - Pittwater High School

Artist statement

My artworks are inspired by my personal world. Using gouache paint, I was able to express the three main emotional stages I experience when I procrastinate. I aimed to capture the emotions within each stage through five self-portraits, each organised and categorised using different coloured backgrounds.

Each painting is referenced from a photograph of myself. This project has become very special to me, as it visually demonstrates how I feel when I avoid my responsibilities and they begin to pile up on me. This habit has tormented me all throughout my life, mostly in schooling situations. I feel that procrastination has had a large impact on my life and who I am today.


James Hocking, Aging through time - St Augustine’s College

Artist statement

My concept is to portray the varying effects of aging on different people.

I chose my grandfather and grandmother - who have both had very different journeys as they’ve grown older - to highlight a dichotomy: in this case, my grandfather’s body is failing him but his mind and memories stay strong, as can be seen in the subject matter surrounding him of places he lived, worked and activities he enjoyed. My grandmother, on the other hand, is experiencing the reverse, and her memories are quite faded.

To start each portrait, I did a photoshoot with each of them using studio lighting and a backdrop to create a high contrast image that I could replicate.

I was inspired originally by Jono Dry. I had seen how the tonal qualities in some of his hyperrealistic sketches added depth to an artwork. I tried to emulate this – I think more successfully with my grandmother’s piece, where the dark sections on her face work to create depth. I was also partially inspired by surrealist artworks, more the subject matter than actual specific works. I found exploring the mind as a subject was extremely interesting and different.


Arden Kalloghlian, Trophies - St Augustine’s College

Artist statement 

My body of work consists of three ceramic shoes. The concept of my artwork is to represent the love of shoes by self-professed ’sneaker heads’, who display their shoes like trophies, and how people buy shoes to signify achievements and memories.

Ceramic Sneakers by Kang S. Lee is my inspiration. He conveys urban sneaker culture through the creative possibilities of the sneaker-form, redesigning sneakers in ceramics with a unique twist from the originals.

To create my sneakers from clay, I started with the slab method, using a slab roller to make 10mm thick sheets of clay, then adjusting the thickness with a rolling pin. I used a variety of modelling tools to cut and join pieces together, smooth out joins, and add details of stitching, laces, and the form of the shoe.


Neven Korac, Journey into the unconscious - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Cromer Campus

Artist statement

I was inspired by my teachers to create my biggest work yet, an amalgamation of all my previous styles and concepts merged into one display. I chose markers, pencils, and ink pens for my medium. With these basic tools I tried to stretch the stylistic spectrum through my work. I wanted to explore the inner workings of my mind and figure out where my ideas and inspirations are pulled from.

Nothing is truly ‘original’; everything is borrowed and morphed from somewhere. Energy cannot be created or destroyed as it is a constant; it can only change form. I tore through old sketchbooks, searched for unique ideas online, and brainstormed new concepts. As I added more and more, I kept finding new ways to incorporate interesting shapes and colours, filling the uneasy negative spaces.

I was influenced by some of my favourite artists, especially Van Gogh, Dali, and da Vinci. I have replicated some of their distinct mannerisms in my piece and have included many hidden details and references to their lives and works.


Nina Korgul, Stuck with you - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

Through my series of paintings, I explore the emotive intensity of familial relationships during these tumultuous times. COVID-19 has forced families into the sudden intense environment of constant interaction, heightening both the good and the bad about spending every moment with your family.

The paintings depict myself, and my two sisters, Andie and Lucy. 

Despite age differences, my relationship with my sisters has grown out of the stress of these uncertain times, hence prompting me to depict our interactions through a range of playful, angry, and serious expressions.

The central paintings utilise a traditional practice and composition in order to entrance viewers through the intense gaze; this is contrasted by the playful contemporary qualities of the adjoining pencil drawings, which elucidate the opposing aspects of life during the pandemic.


Abigail Laforest, By a thread - Covenant Christian School

Artist statement

Worthless. Worthy. Unloved. Loved. Words that develop into thoughts, all-consuming thoughts that either untie - relieving oneself of the knotting of negativity, depression and anxiety – or, instead, tangle these knots further, leaving you emotionally holding on by a thread, struggling to keep yourself together, masking your internal battles.

My body of work aims to communicate the impact of words on self-perception and one’s mental state as we travel through life. Words, whether from outside sources or from ourselves, affect us. Some are positive, some are negative. Some are true, some are false. Some we believe, some we don’t. However, the power of negative words allows our brains to tangle the positive and the negative, and the true and the false. Sometimes this tangled, knotting web grows within us, letting us truly believe the negative words, truly believing we are worthless, unloved, ugly, and useless, leading to us needing to put on a façade, telling ourselves to pull it together as we try to hide our struggle from the world.

My portraits aim to convey the mental battles we all face throughout life, regardless of age or gender, even if we can’t always see it.  We never know how much thread someone has left to pull themselves together.

My work aims to challenge viewers to consider whether their words will feed the turmoil, or be words of liberation, for themselves, or for others.


Dane Lansbury, Asleep at the wheel - Barrenjoey High School

Artist statement

I have explored the power of an image to become a symbolic representation. Here, the car represents the ‘vehicle’ that carries cultural values. Men drive the vehicle. Boys are the passengers.

My artworks represents how young men have lost their way. There is an absence of a rite of passage or an initiation that marks the transition from boy to man in a culture where such lessons are dead. What if we are looking for more? What if we are looking beyond the binge drinking on weekends, beyond the reckless behaviours? As a culture it seems to me that we are ‘asleep at the wheel’. There is no destination; therefore, there is no arrival.

I hope to provoke a bigger question. How can men create an environment for progressive social development into manhood that also promotes emotional intelligence?


Lila Lawton, LilaLand - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

My work centres on the concept of memory, and our perceived inherent ability to remember things. ‘Memories are all that are left behind…’ But what if your memory is impaired, and this undermines your ability to make sense of the world? Then consider trying to do your HSC, arguably one of the most stressful times you have experienced in life so far, with the experiences of the catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20 and the uncertainty of COVID at the same time? What does this do to your mental health and hope for the future?

My self-portrait depicts the fractured reality of my existence. Human existence relies on memory, and sometimes I feel like my own struggle with memory and learning puts me in a constant state of confusion - all made worse by social media and the current state of the world. What is real is related to your perception of the world.

My artwork should be viewed from various angles to enable the viewer to see the two full self-portraits. By physically distorting the way these paintings are seen, I hope they simulate the distortion of my reality, and why I constantly must question what I am seeing to make sense of the world.


Nina Lindley, Aliens act - Pittwater High School

Artist statement

“Approval to remain in the Commonwealth does not absolve you from the necessity to comply with the provisions of the Aliens Act 1947.”

Living and growing up in the safe haven of the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and being a keen surfer, I have often been struck by the sudden and inexplicable arrival of huge migrations of blue bottle jellyfish on the shore. Blue bottles, or Portuguese Man o’ War, have no means of propulsion, and move passively, driven by the winds, currents, and tides.

My work reflects this phenomenon, and mirrors the migration of my own family, who were forced to leave their homes at the mercy of fate, as the winds of change - political, philosophical and economic - swept through Europe during and after the Second World War. The tentacles of my mother’s ancestors, from an obscure Polish town in a far corner of Europe, reached across the world to join with the history of my father’s family and, in so doing, and through the randomness of immigration, government policy, and world events, made my very existence possible.


Beatrice McGuire, A sister; a daughter; a friend - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

A sister; a daughter; a friend explores the transient nature of identity through the narrative of a young girl running away from home, and venturing through a surrealist landscape. While travelling through a replica of her house, each room represents a different influence on the development of identity.

The puppet interview in the first room explores the formation of self-perception dictated by our relationships with family and friends. The motif of clones in the second room signifies the dependency of one’s sense of self on physical appearance. The observation of the protagonist’s past self through memory in the heart room, questions the role that formative experiences and the subjectivity of memory play in personal development.

The work suggests that any attempt to define identity is futile, and will lead to obsession and insanity. Identity is too intangible and transient to be defined in regard to any real-world influence, and therefore, the ‘coming-of-age’ period, that often causes immense insecurity and anguish, should encourage young people to be at peace with their inevitably turbulent relationship with identity and self-acceptance.

I have been inspired by the following artists: Tomoko Sawada, Zang Xiaogang, Izumi Miyazaki, Roy Anderson (You, The Living), and Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste of Tea).


Claudia Moore, Isla and Jude - Mater Maria College

Artist statement

My work is a subjective exploration into the medical condition known as Sanfilippo syndrome. This rare illness causes a form of childhood dementia, and commonly results in the loss of life, restricting sufferers from fulfilling their youth or reaching adulthood. When creating my piece, I spent time considering how I would represent the disease in a way that would allow the audience to feel moved, while also portraying the significant effects and disadvantages that children as young as Isla and Jude go through, and will continue to go through, until they unfortunately pass.

This heinous disease is not discussed enough in conversations around dementia.  My work aims to raise awareness that this illness is one that could affect anyone, any child, whether they are from a family that has experienced this in past generations, or families that are unaware that Sanfilippo syndrome exists.

My artwork allowed me to extend my knowledge and perceptions. As I photographed Isla and Jude, I saw parts of their world I had never witnessed.  Observing the challenges of their constant movement and hyperactivity allowed me to sympathise with the people closer to Isla and Jude who are battling daily alongside them. I was filled with overwhelming compassion, which motivated me to express to a wider audience the decomposition of the human form as perfectly as I possibly could.


Luke O'Donnell, 2056 - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Balgowlah Boys Campus

Artist statement

2056 is a photomedia body of work that explores the dystopian environments that inevitably define our future. 

Neon colours emblematic of the social and cultural impact of technology clash with the emptiness of the darkened streets, representing a desolate futuristic landscape seemingly devoid of life and vitality. However, a profound sense of coexistence is formed, as amidst these desolate streets some human life is preserved. Multiple salient figures populate the work, retaining some humanity in a world where individual purpose is challenged by the emptiness of the world in which they exist. 

However, these characters’ futile attempts to find meaning are ultimately confirmed through their inability to transgress this landscape of emotional and intellectual desolation, as they are denied their own existence by the utter vacuity of this futuristic landscape.


Jonah Ovadia, Erase - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Balgowlah Boys Campus

Artist statement

Erase comments on the bushfires that occurred on North Head in 2020. The phrase ‘colour burns black’, written across the three vividly patterned boards, comments on the loss of flora and fauna that came as a result of these fires. The decision to burn the board with ‘colour’ printed on it, acts as evidence of the previous phrase, as the bright colours of the board become darkened and covered by ashes and soot.


Joshua Palmer, Distortion of the northern beaches - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Balgowlah Boys Campus

Artist statement

Distortion of the northern beaches explores the natural beauty of the local area through both traditional and abstract techniques.  My work aims to provide viewers with a unique way of experiencing local landscapes through a lens that transforms and connects the geography of the northern beaches. The main challenge I faced during the creation of my body of work was finding deeper meaning within it. Although I have yet to find meaning within my own art, I invite viewers to consider what this work means to them.


Eloise Pamp, Still life, still learning, still relevant - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Senior Campus

Artist statement

My body of work explores the genre of still life through a lens of analysation, a process by which we learn and evolve as artists, paying close attention to past painters and their influences. Almost all artists have people or things that inspire as well as influence them, and in my painting, I aim to show mine. I resonate with the painting traditions from European history, especially the Renaissance to Neoclassic time period.

My work displays the methods I use to progress as an artist. I worked closely with a limited colour pallet, and adhered to a traditional method of painting. My intent in this work is to convey the history the art world holds, and reflect on how each new generation of artists learn from previous generations before them.


Ella Perna, Percussion of the mind: two beats, one brain - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

“Now I realise and I acknowledge, that the right-brain/left- brain distinction is a tremendous oversimplification. We don’t come neatly divided into right and left hemispheres, but the fact is that the two hemispheres of the brain do specialise in certain functions.” – Dr Darold Treffert

My artwork, Percussion of the Mind: Two Beats, One Brain, explores the differences between the two sides of the brain, and what they consist of. The left side, represented by the monochromatic grey colours, is said to be more verbal, analytical and orderly, concerned with language and number skills. The right side, however, consists of emotional thought, imagination, and intuition, usually shining through in more creative and artistic activities.

Through the boxes that interchange over each side of my piece, I intend to show that aspects of our lives can appear ‘left-brained’, but actually have traits of the ‘right-brain’ coming through subliminally, and vice versa. For example, this piece itself automatically gets placed into a ‘right-brain’ activity, but ensuring that everything was even, and measuring it all out with rulers and compasses is extremely ‘left-brained’. I think that whilst it is important to acknowledge the activities of each side, there is a form of beauty in the overlap.


Andy Pienaar, Altruism - Covenant Christian School

Artist statement

Altruism - behaviour that benefits another individual at a cost to oneself, doing something to help another person with no expectation of reward, helping someone despite the personal costs.

This behaviour is what inspired me to create my piece. Altruism was an outlet for my own emotions when I felt like I had the world on my shoulders. The sculpture aims to convey the turmoil I faced internally each day as I carried those emotions around with me. I, too, started to drown just as others around me were.

The figures drowning represent my many friends who suffer with mental health issues, and aim to highlight how these issues can take over, forming a turbulent distorted reality. The figure in the centre of the piece represents me, and how I had so much to say, but I always felt choked, unable to express my thoughts and emotions, as I was the anchor for so many.

Altruism aims to convey the raw, fearful reality of people supporting those suffering from mental health issues, and allow people like myself, the opportunity to finally say ‘I can’t carry this anymore’, giving us the freedom to know it’s OK to love from a distance, and care without taking responsibility for a problem that was not ours to carry in the first place.


Grace Power, Unravelled - Pittwater High School

Artist statement

My body of work Unravelled, aims to project the continuity, connectedness, and vulnerability of human existence. Although not alone, a small unpicking of a person can unfold into an unexpected unravelling of emotions and identity.

During the process of making my body of work, I made continuous line drawings, which I then followed to create wire faces and figures. I overcame challenges of stress, fatigue, and frustration, allowing this work to become an outlet and an expression of my emotions.


Lauren Robertson-Towner, Sonder and choruses - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

Sonder – ‘the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own’

It is unfathomably easy to be unfazed by the experiences of a collective when an issue appears distant to you. This can be accredited to language and cultural barriers, physical distance, or simply a lack of exposure to the subject. Recognising the emotions of individuals which make up the collective, rather than asserting a broad and blind empathy for a group, is something I’ve tried to navigate as I become more aware of inequalities and injustices around the world. Shared mourning, frustration, and liberation, is wholeheartedly comprised of the experiences of individuals who have lives as enthralling and poignant as your own.

Considering this, my body of work focuses on the importance of recognising both the shared and the internalised monologues that are born from every lived experience, rather than just the headline challenges faced by groups. It also serves as a visual understanding that some of those experiences will never be shared.


Jeremy Rotenstein, Unsustainable practices - Killarney Heights High School

Artist statement

We are what we eat … until we cannot eat it anymore. My work explores the confronting horrors of modern unsustainable fishing practices. Our living oceans are being destroyed by the pressures of unchecked global consumerism, causing mass species depletion, and the killing of endangered species, through overfishing by indiscriminate commercial long-range fishing vessels.

Using true-scale ink prints, like ancient fisherman’s tales, I have sought to revitalise a lost traditional artform of recording fish removed from the ocean. This method, called Gyotaku, seeks to capture the beauty and form of fish. In my pencil drawings, the ‘lifeline’ of sustainable practices, such as longline fishing stands in stark contrast to the barbarity of practices common today, such as indiscriminate net fishing and abandoned ghost nets.

The brutal depiction of fish bones in ‘human form’ are a metaphor for our rampant greedy consumerism. If we act now to break the naive stereotype of our ‘limitless’ oceans, there is still time to confront the unravelling ordeal at hand.

I am a passionate fisherman, and want to use my art to challenge and change preconceived ideas to encourage a ‘call to action’.


Bo Schroeter, Instruction for the senses - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

Instruction for the senses is a conceptual film that documents five abstract textual instructions, each individually interpreted and visually realised by a performer. Each instruction and thus respective action concerns one of the five human senses – hearing, touch, taste, smell and sight. By focussing on each sense in isolation, the film explores how an individual’s experiences of perception and meaning are shaped by their physical interactions with their surroundings.

The monochromatic, neutral colour scheme of the film, documented against a white studio background, creates a ‘void-like’ space that removes all distractions, and allows both the performer and the viewer to focus entirely on the textual instructions and the performer’s subsequent actions as she ‘completes’ the instruction. The film reveals that while each sense functions uniquely, it is the interdependent compilation of senses that informs a holistic understanding of one’s surroundings.


Mia Schwartz, Locked in - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Manly Campus

Artist statement

The solitude experienced through the tedium of our everyday routines has conditioned society into a cycle of ignorant insanity. My fear of succumbing to monotony, and living out the same 9 – 5 lifestyle is explored through my body of work, which conveys the absurdity of repetition and the isolation experienced, in an attempt to break free from the comfort of routine.

The characteristically playful and provocative humour of my piece contains an underlying unease; the effects of monotony in confining an individual’s sense of creativity, humanity, and discovery, ultimately driving one to hysteria.

I have been influenced by Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Meret Oppenheim.


Lulu Shield, Empty nest - St Luke’s Grammar School

Artist statement

Empty Nest seeks to capture the experience of mothers who go through ‘empty nest syndrome’. This term refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children leave home, and which is especially common in women, who are still more likely to assume the role of primary caregiver in modern families.

I have sought to evoke the sense of nostalgia that inhabits a newly ‘empty nest’ after a daughter leaves home. This is represented through monochrome colour grading and jump-cut editing supported with atmospheric sound, enabling the audience to experience the mother’s beautiful ‘flashback’ journey through life with her daughter, from infancy to adulthood.

Frequently, the notion that womens’ primary role in life is motherhood is reinforced, enhancing feelings of emptiness once children move out. I use water as a symbol - to show the mother’s rippled journey discovering the new potential in her life as an independent woman, embracing her new life as an individual, not defined by her role as a mother.


Jade Straatemeier, Third culture kids: Self-portrait as a female artist; Sophie with eggs; Portrait as a pilot; The sake drinker - St Luke’s Grammar School

Artist statement

I explore the universal experience of being a ‘Third Culture Kid’, through my personal, emotive artwork. Growing up in Asia with my friends during our formative years, has shaped our identity. Then, moving to the western world left us with the constant struggle of being stuck between two cultures. Which country do we call home? The one we are living in, the one we lived in for the longest time or the one where we grew up?

Growing up in Hong Kong, my identity resonated with the notion of whether you are an ‘Egg’ or a ‘Banana’, Caucasian on the outside, Asian on the inside.  When I was little, I found myself associating with the Asian kids, as I connected with them more than the Caucasian children in the playground. I saw myself as Asian despite being white on the outside.

I chose to appropriate Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Expressionist artworks to express my emotive connection with the subject, through emulating his expressive forms using colour and symbolism. The figures relate to myself, my friend Emma, my brother Issac, and my best friend from Hong Kong, Sophie.


Aren Volante, #Perfect - Oxford Falls Grammar School

Artist statement

What is it that first makes a young girl begin to question her body? What thoughts drive her to stare maliciously at herself searching for flaws, judging how she looks to others? It is comparison – comparison to society’s beauty standards and portrayals.

#Perfect examines the feelings of intense self-doubt that focuses on the psychological ripples caused by self-inflicted comparison. It explores the distortions of these emotions, and how they manifest in physical ways, evoking feelings of discontent and insecurity towards our personal perception of ourselves.

The more society is saturated with idealised ‘perfect’ bodies, the more we look to find those same idealised characteristics in ourselves, but when we don’t find them, we begin to notice and be consumed by our ‘flaws’, searching for ways to fix these ‘imperfections’.

It’s a cycle that breeds discontent and insecurity, until we no longer recognise the person in the mirror.


Lucy Watt, A documentation of unusual entities - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Senior Campus

Artist statement

My work is an exploration of the abominations of nature; each being flawed in some way, elongated and warped, a blend of the pure and the abnormal, a cause for discomfort. Grotesque.


Max Wilson, We are animals - Northern Beaches Secondary College - Freshwater Campus

Artist statement

Through my body of work, my intent is to explore contemporary societal issues of animal abuse, bioethics, and the position of humans in the animal kingdom. I personally wanted to intellectually explore and challenge my own morals and ethics, as I am concerned about the future of our complex relationship between humanity and other organisms.

In my work, I subject the ‘humans’ to the cruelty and biological torture that selective breeding and gene editing has done our pets and livestock, for example the dog breed, Pug. I want to express the notion of humanity’s ideal that we are inherently superior to other less intelligent creatures.

My work comments on the ‘God complex’ that humanity has manifested; through our self-obsession, relating to our intelligence and artificiality. I want to promote the notion that we are indeed animals, and that our definition of ‘animal’ being savage or crude, applies to us as well. I set out to spark conversation about the morals and hypocrisy about these crucial topics, with my display of farce imagery and eldritch symbolism.


Vicki Wittstock, Nanna’s kitchen - Covenant Christian School

Artist statement

My body of work is inspired by my grandmother’s collection of tea sets and tea pots. I wanted to create an artwork that represented Nanna, and her interest in tea and tea sets - her kitchen. I specifically focused on different aspects of tea, using a range of artmaking processes including lino printing, watercolour painting, spray painting, drawing, ceramic modelling, and dying paper with tea. I have also incorporated found objects into the artwork. Each individual compartment represents an aspect of my Nanna’s tea making ritual, and the dear memories the family has of enjoying tea with her, in her kitchen.