Local artists on exhibition shortlist

TWO years ago during an art excursion to Sydney, James Kennelly was inspired by the quality of work featured in ArtExpress, an exhibition of the best major works from HSC art students. 

Last week the former The Armidale School (TAS) student was celebrating the nomination of his own major work for next year’s exhibition.

“Having the opportunity to see the best work in the state two years ago really pushed me to achieve something close to that level. Halfway through this year I felt my work was not as good as I had expected – so to be nominated has not only delightfully surprised me, but highlights the ability of having a goal to strive towards and then working to achieve it,” Mr Kennelly said.

Taking between 200 and 400 hours from conception to execution, James describes his 14kg sculpture as a comment on society’s ability to applaud ignorance and to “continue to use commercialism, consumerism and materialism as misleading perceptions of human nature”.

The organic armature that is the centrepiece of his work was sketched then welded. 

Small wooden panels were attached with hot glue, sanded and stained. 

Unbleached calico was woven into the remaining spaces of the structure. 

Figurative images were drawn with watercolour pencils onto gauze panels and then attached to the structure.

“James has amazing creativity and practical skills and was also incredibly self-

driven, needing no input from myself or anyone else in making his concept a reality,” his teacher, James White, said.

“It is a highly non-traditional format for a sculpture, bringing together the use of fabric, metal, wood and drawing. Just to be nominated is a tremendous honour.”

Mr Kennelly isn’t alone in his selection. 

A powerful work by New England Girls’ School (NEGS) student Andrea Vivers that uses the rabbit plague as a symbol of European invasion has also been nominated for ArtExpress.

“The painting is inspired by, and should be looked at while listening to, the poem Invasion by John Marsden,” Ms Vivers said. 

“The painting explores the darkness and bewilderment brought about by the foreign creatures, and then their fear of what the future holds as the rabbits just keep on coming.”

Part of the artwork is a timber burl encasing an iPod, inviting viewers to listen to a recording of Marsden reading his poem. NEGS art teacher Sarah Ronald said Ms Vivers was a highly talented painter and the nomination was exciting.

“Just to be nominated is a ... reflection of her technical and conceptual expertise,” she said.

Curators will select works to be included in the ArtExpress exhibitions, which go on show at the Art Gallery of NSW as well as at various locations across the state.

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