ARTEXPRESS 2020 is back at Hazelhurst Arts Centre after its first run was cut short by coronavirus

Immersion: Former competitive swimmer Kyra Gilfillan has always been fascinated by water. Picture: Chris Lane
Immersion: Former competitive swimmer Kyra Gilfillan has always been fascinated by water. Picture: Chris Lane

The ARTEXPRESS exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre Gymea has been extended until August after initially being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And no one will be more excited than the former HSC students whose work is being showcased in the exhibition.

The Sutherland Shire Council-run centre reopened on Monday, June 22, albeit with shorter operating hours and other measures to enhance safety.

Now in its 36th year, ARTEXPRESS showcases the outstanding artworks created by NSW students for the HSC Visual Arts examination.

Exhibitions are held at six locations, including Hazelhurst, where the works of more than 50 artists are on display.

Among them is Kyra Gilfillan, of Woronora, who has been painting ever since she could hold a brush.

"My mum is an artist so she has been teaching me since I was a young girl," said Ms Gilfillan.

A former competitive swimmer, Ms Gilfillan, 19, has always been fascinated by the way the body becomes immersed in water and how the light causes it to fragment.

"Underwater it's really calm and quiet, there are soft lines, and outside the water as you burst through it is loud [and] there are straight lines. It is like two different worlds," she said.

The former Woolooware High School student said her HSC major artwork did not get off to a good start - she scrapped her first attempt and started again.

"One day, I went down to the beach with my mum and she took photos of me splashing in the water as waves crashed over me," she said. "I really liked the way the water fragmented."

She whittled down the resulting "thousands of photos" to four and set to work painting a series of artworks, Immersion and Fragmentation.

She said all have different meanings. The first is as much about her fascination with water as it is about her move to Australia from South Africa when she was in year 10, and "swimming into a new life".

The second sees her swimming up to the surface in order to breathe after a period of difficulty, while the third shows her trying to keep her head above water during the HSC.

The fourth depicts her sliding through the water to the finish line, again a reference to the HSC.

She received a mark of 100 per cent from her school for her major work, and an overall band 6 for visual arts in the HSC.

Another artist whose work is being showcased at ARTEXPRESS is Bonnie Dong, of Hurstville. The former St George Girls High School student said she decided to study visual arts for the HSC to explore her creative side.

Departure: For Bonnie Dong, studying art for her HSC was a way to explore her creative side. Picture: Chris Lane

Departure: For Bonnie Dong, studying art for her HSC was a way to explore her creative side. Picture: Chris Lane

Ms Dong had not done any formal art lessons since year 7 until choosing to study visual arts in year 11 - a move that originally baffled her parents.

"I really like painting my nails and drawing small things," she said. "I wanted to explore that so I chose art to explore my creativity."

When it came time to choose her major artwork for the HSC, a sketch of her mother sleeping on a plane caught the eye of her art teacher, who encouraged her to explore the concept.

She decided to make travel the basis of her artwork and set about photographing people on the train each day. She also used Google images to find photos of a pilot in the cockpit of a plane and a rail guard.

She completed sketches of each before painting in acrylic.

The result is Departure, a series of 10 artworks representing the "psychological journey individuals embark on as they seek to face uncertainties with composure".

Bonnie says the first painting she completed - of her sleeping mother - took the longest because she had never painted with acrylic before.

"It took the whole term to do the first one as it was my first time painting with acrylic, so I needed to work on my technique and style," she said, adding the others took about 30 hours each to complete.

Other exhibitors from schools in St George and Sutherland Shire are:

  • Taya Lea Corrigan, Kirrawee High School, Them, the 'Others', drawing - black pen on cartridge paper;
  • Amy Crowe, St Patrick's College Sutherland, Remembering, drawing - pencil on paper;
  • Claudia Kennedy, Woolooware High School, A Tribute, drawing - charcoal; Hannah
  • Kate Millar, Sylvania High School, Every Nation, Tribe, People and Language, painting - oil on board;
  • Amelia Morrow, De La Salle Catholic College, Cronulla, Family Portraits, painting - oil on canvas, acrylic paints;
  • Lilly New, Shire Christian School, Progress Over Perfection, drawing - graphite pencil on paper;
  • Kaitlyn Russell, Inaburra School, Himalayan Elements, collection of works - pencil, acrylic on canvas, pen;
  • Patricia Alicia Stenos Turner, Kirrawee High School, Perception, painting - oil on canvas.

ARTEXPRESS 2020 is at Hazelhurst Arts Centre until Sunday, August 16. The gallery is currently open 10am to 4pm daily. Entry is free.