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2009 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre – Visual Arts



This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 course in Visual Arts. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2009 Higher School Certificate examination, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.

This document should be read along with the relevant syllabus, the 2009 Higher School Certificate examination, the marking guidelines and other support documents which have been developed by the Board of Studies to assist in the teaching and learning of Visual Arts.

Teachers and students are advised that, in December 2008, the Board of Studies approved changes to the examination specifications and assessment requirements for a number of courses. These changes will be implemented for the 2010 HSC cohort. Information on a course-by-course basis is available on the Board’s website.

General comments

Teachers and candidates should be aware that examiners may ask questions that address the syllabus outcomes in a manner that requires candidates to respond by integrating the knowledge, understanding and skills they developed through studying the course.

Candidates need to be aware that the mark allocated to the question and the answer space (where this is provided on the examination paper), are a guide to the length of the required response. A longer response will not in itself lead to higher marks. Writing far beyond the indicated space may reduce the time available for answering other questions.

Candidates need to be familiar with the Board’s Glossary of Key Words which contains some terms commonly used in examination questions. However, candidates should also be aware that not all questions will start with or contain one of the key words from the glossary. Questions such as ‘how?’, ‘why?’ or ‘to what extent?’ may be asked or verbs may be used which are not included in the glossary, such as ‘design’, ‘translate’ or ‘list’.

Written examination

Section I

General comments

Question 1
  1. Responses to this question used the source material knowledgeably to make informed statements about the characteristics of social attitudes towards progress. Most saw this as being represented in the physical nature of work and the relationships of man and machine used as a metaphor for progress. Others insightfully interpreted the photograph as a representation of gender roles in the 1920s and as a positive attitude in American society towards the heroic and patriotic efforts of male workers.

    Above-average responses were characterised by clear explanations that synthesised features of the cultural interests implied in the source material. A broader knowledge of social attitudes in America was used in supportive ways that extended aspects of the discussion and demonstrated a depth of understanding. They referred to the emergence of post-war America as a nation striving to move forward. The explosion of technology in the age of modernity implied in the photograph was cited as further evidence of this. These responses were clear and often linked insightful interpretations of the source material with symbolic references to the scale of the machine relative to man. The unity of the relationship of man and machine working in harmony was further explored as a reflection of society’s attitude towards, and acceptance of, progress. Better responses convincingly proposed that this is a shared view, locating it within the particular time and place of America in the 1920s.

  2. A significant number of responses to this question focused on aspects of the source material to comment on what they interpreted as a logical progression within Sikander’s artmaking procedures. Many responses acknowledged the variety of media used and the assistance of gallery technicians. However, this was less frequently applied in an interpretive way to develop a case about Sikander’s procedures. Most responses made reference to the collection of preliminary material and the daily activity of ‘carrying a camera’ as a source of inspiration. Some responses acknowledged the role of the exhibition in the production of the artwork.

    Above-average responses used the source material to develop an insightful account of Sikander’s practice. These responses presented a convincing explanation of her procedures and they clearly understood the relationships between them, as shown by references to outsourcing, collaboration, selection, editing and simplification. ‘Transformation’ and the ideas of temporality and transience found both in the artwork and in nature were recognised as relevant and important elements of Sikander’s conceptual practice. These responses also acknowledged the relationships between procedures and how they contributed to a broad understanding of practice.

  3. Images of Chiaru Shiota’s Dialogue from DNA and of an audience interacting with the artwork were provided. Contextual information provided significant detail on the procedures involved in the development of the artwork. Together with the title, this stimulus material allowed most candidates access to the possible meanings of the artwork in relation to the world as well as the artist’s and the audience’s relationships with the work and the world. Responses offered interpretations in relation to common human ancestry, ideas of journey, qualities of difference within unity, and culturally specific references to events in European history as well as concerns in the contemporary world.

    Above-average responses were characterised by a fluent understanding of how the relationships between artists, artworks, audiences and the world produce significance and meaning in art. These responses communicated a connected understanding of how meaning emerges through the coming together of knowledge, experience and agency of all elements of the art world within the context of this particular artwork. The interpretations of Shiota’s work recognised the interrelationship and mutual significance of all agencies; they were elaborated and supported with pertinent detail from the examination paper and by a knowledge of how meaning is created within and about artworks.

    Students are advised to examine the source material carefully and comprehensively in order to draw inferences, rather than being merely descriptive, or reiterating quotations.

Section II


Question 2

Responses to this question demonstrated knowledge of artistic practice and the impact of influences and relationships within specific artists’ practice. The significance of influences such as media and techniques, beliefs and theories, was examined in terms of the impact of new materials and methods of making art such as Duchamp’s readymades, street art and digital media. Some responses examined new approaches and the intentionality underpinning art practice. Innovations within the conventions of subject matter, such as the depiction of the female nude, the challenge of abstraction, the development of mass-produced artworks, non-gallery/museum artworks and performance-based artworks were discussed in relation to their influence on artist practice. A diverse range of artists were referenced including Duchamp, Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Giorgione, Titian, Manet, Morimura and Banksy. These artists were discussed with reference to their innovative works, which in turn have influenced and shaped other artists.

Above-average responses demonstrated a clear understanding of art practice and identified and discussed innovations established by artists. These were explained in discussions of another artist or artists. They developed complex discussions of artistic practice in insightful and knowledgeable accounts of innovations and how those art practices influenced other artists. These better responses extended and articulated the complexity of artistic practice and were well supported by the selection of appropriate artists and artworks. An understanding of the interlocking relationship between influence and art practice and an understanding of the breadth and diversity of types of influence were clearly evident in these responses.

The study of artists’ art practice encompasses identifiable components of influence, intention and choice. It is advisable to examine all three components.

Question 3

Most responses revealed an understanding that the intentions of artists form an important part of artistic practice and relevant examples were chosen to illustrate this. Site-specific artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Banksy were popular choices. However, the conceptual leap to incorporate exhibition spaces with artistic intentions proved a greater challenge. Discussions of exhibition sites raised a broad range of examples, prompted by the bullet points annexed to the question. Places that influence artistic intentions were sometimes discussed instead of exhibition spaces.

Above-average responses were characterised by a comprehensive understanding of ways that exhibition sites affect the intentions of artists. These responses clearly identified the exhibition sites, often in multiple forms, and explained the physical and conceptual dimensions of the relationship between sites and intentions. In better responses, environmental and socio-political issues were identified and examined as intentions of some artists and discussions of exhibition sites were layered successfully with these intentions. Responses in this high range effectively integrated discussions of artistic practices and audience engagement in insightful ways while average responses approached the answer in conventional, more descriptive ways rather than as evidence supporting an explanation of how sites and intentions correlate in practice.

Terms such as ‘intentions’ that are conventionally associated with artistic practices and easily recognised as such can distract from more subtle and complex readings of the question. In this case, exhibition sites provided opportunities for students to explore relationships with artistic practice. Relationships such as these need to be clearly defined and carefully selected examples introduced to address all parts of the question.

Question 4

Responses to this question used the quote by Alison Kubler to present an informed analysis of the practice of a range of artists supported by detailed reference to their bodies of work. Arguments were usually in the affirmative and used salient aspects of the practice of three or four artists to develop a well-reasoned argument that made specific reference to their changing approaches to artmaking. Aspects of practice were identified and examined to support an argument that identified the changing nature of an artist’s practice and the impact of personal and world events that shaped their conceptual concerns over time. An analysis of the artworks of artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Duchamp, Kahlo, Pollock, Warhol, Christo, Goldsworthy, Piccinini, Rrap and Bennett referenced the changing nature of their practice in terms of their use of materials, techniques and technologies as reflected in the diversity of their bodies of work.

Above-average responses sustained an argument based on a thorough and knowledgeable discussion of three or more artists’ bodies of work and linked these to complex accounts of aspects of their practice. These arguments confidently articulated complex relationships between artistic practice and the changing intentions of the artist across a series of artworks, reaffirming their stance in relation to the quote and explicitly linking the argument back to the question. A sophisticated and multilayered understanding of artmaking was evident in the selection and discussion of the artworks that were used to generate a coherent and convincing argument.

Teachers and students are advised that to ‘argue’ requires that a position should be clearly established at the start of the response. The stimulus of the quote should be used to guide the selection of artists and their bodies of work, and to structure the response.

Conceptual framework

Question 5

Responses to this question demonstrated a broad range of interpretations supported by diverse examples from historical and contemporary contexts. A comprehensive understanding of the conceptual framework to support and direct the examination of issues raised by artists was evident. Discussion of the relational link between Greene’s quote and the question evidenced varied interpretations of key terms. Approaches ranged from thematic and conceptual investigations to notions of the artist as a social commentator. Some responses demonstrated an acute awareness of how different audiences engage with issues discussed. Popular issues included feminism, war, identity and technology. Favoured choices of artists included Warhol, Banksy, Duchamp, Kruger, Manet, Delacroix, Sherman and Stelarc.

Above-average responses effectively linked all aspects of Greene’s quote to the question and presented ideas that demonstrated an understanding of context, history and artistic conventions. These responses built well-reasoned, logical and insightful arguments about the relational link between Greene’s position and how artists raise awareness of issues in the world. Arguments were layered and convincing, with a focus on the relationship of agencies of the art world. They demonstrated a depth of knowledge of selected artists and how they respond to cultural and/or personal issues through their works. Arguments were consistently supported by appropriate examples selectively chosen to highlight the position taken, and relevant quotations from historians, critics and artists also supported the arguments. Conclusions were culminations of judgements developed through argument and not simply a reiteration of Greene’s quote.

The question required the response to use the quote as a point of reference in constructing an explanation, providing evidence to show the relationships between ideas, artworks, world, artist and audience. The structure of the response should be based on the demand of the question in conjunction with the rubric.

Question 6

Many responses included reference to debates between agencies of the art world – in particular, artists, critics, historians, the general public and the media. It was generally recognised that due to the very nature of art, artworks could not always appeal to and please everyone. References were made to modern and contemporary artists and their practice and an appreciation of historical art was evidenced. Artists and critics whose works ‘push boundaries’ were often included. Artists such as Manet, Duchamp, Hirst, Henson, Orlan, Stelarc, Serrano, Emin and the ‘Sensation’ Exhibition featured prominently in discussion. It was clear that some pre-prepared case studies were adapted to suit the question and the degree of success of this strategy was contingent on how well the debate was argued.

Above-average responses were complex and nuanced, supported by an insightful understanding of debates and knowledge of artists. These responses offered sophisticated interpretations of the way debates have prompted media reactions and political comment, as well as discussing aesthetic and social ramifications. Often these responses utilised relevant and well-chosen examples to support the explanation. Favoured key historic art events such as the Salon des Refusés, Duchamp’s introduction of the Readymade, the emergence of the ‘Young British Artists’ and controversy surrounding Bill Henson were comprehensively discussed. The role of patrons and commissions was referenced in an historical context. The term ‘universal’ was recognised as encompassing time, context and culture, including issues of gender.

Question 7

Content was addressed in a rather broad and general manner in most responses to this question. Often ‘significance’ was interpreted to mean ‘contribution’, ‘success’ or ‘importance’, frequently without reference to specific examples. A number of responses focused on a broad view of success in the art world from a wide-ranging perspective that included artists, designers and architects, with reference to their processes in developing a work or the commercial value and success of their work(s). The Archibald Prize was an example selected by many candidates.

Above average responses identified the roles of awards, prizes and/or commissions in the art world and how artists are valued in terms of their success. They examined this notion as a relationship between the artist, the artwork and the world. Some responses discussed specific artists from different times and presented a view incorporating the historical significance of patronage and commissions. These more successful responses used relevant examples and discussed them in a logical and coherent manner, acknowledging the role played by audiences in contributing to success or recognition. Other responses to the question remained general in nature, acknowledging examples in a very broad and descriptive manner.

Responses which demonstrated an understanding of how to differentiate between demands such as ‘discuss’ and ‘explain’ were better able to establish and sustain a logical argument. Responses which presented an informed viewpoint, clearly addressing the demand of the question and showing a more detailed knowledge of the role of specific awards, prizes and commissions in the art world demonstrated their understanding of some of the complex relationships between agencies of the conceptual framework.


Question 8

Activated by the term ‘imagination’, Question 8 afforded candidates an opportunity to use the subjective frame to explore the way artists create artworks and how, when assuming this viewpoint, meaning might be interpreted by artists and audiences. ‘Imagination’ was variously considered as being the way artists transform ideas, values and concepts or challenge conventions by reinterpreting the world to create significant forms of communication. Popular artists were Kahlo, Viola, Morimura, Picasso and various modernists. Exploration of material practices was also acknowledged as a sign of the imagination, interpreted through a range of artists who use installation, video, body art and new media as evidence of a contemporary freedom of expression.

Above-average responses referred to the key terms in the question as a way to introduce a range of ideas and information about artworks through a discussion of the artist’s personal, emotive and cultural world. These responses offered a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the artist, artwork and audience using examples that explored the artist’s intentions in using imagination as a way of engaging the audience in an active, imaginative decoding of meaning.

Teachers and students are advised to be discerning and selective about how they apply or adapt Case Study information to examination questions. The more successful responses addressed the issue of why imagination is important in the creation of artworks by adapting relevant aspects of Case Studies to the question, rather than offering an analysis or description of artworks studied as a way to explain how artists and audiences might use imagination.

Question 9

Arguments presented in response to John A Walker’s proposition included discussions of challenges to historical and traditional institutions such as art conventions, government, religion, race and gender. Limits of tolerance were addressed through audience reaction, notions of censorship and the banning of exhibitions. Artworks as experiments were seen as explorations in media, scientific developments at specific historical moments, an exploration of new media and technology. The ‘playful’ nature of artworks was referred to as either the methods or materials used, or as a postmodern exploration of art traditions. Most responses agreed with the quote, which provided a framework to drive the discussion.

Above-average responses presented a comprehensive understanding of the postmodern frame with a synthesised and informed discussion of relevant artists supporting the view of the quote. The question gave the opportunity to proffer a well-informed analysis of characteristics of postmodern practice as well as the postmodern frame. Responses cited relevant artists such as Picasso, Duchamp, Morimura, Goldsworthy, Hirst and Viola and other artworks that supported discussions of the quote. These responses identified artists who explore the postmodern in their practice, presenting knowledgeable and insightful discussions of artworks. The postmodern perspective was contextualised appropriately in time and place, and elaborated on with a sophisticated understanding of the requirements of the question. Better responses built a convincing argument that dealt with the ideas represented by the quote and the demand of the question to ‘present an argument’.

Question 10

Broad-ranging discussion included the works of Kahlo, Kruger, Duchamp, Picasso and Bennett, as well as critics and historians such as Vasari, Berger, Collings, Pollock, Hughes and McDonald. Most responses investigated artworks by applying the structural frame. These responses involved descriptions of the signs and symbols found within artworks with varying degrees of analysis and interpretation. References to critics and historians also varied in their specificity and the depth of understanding of the role of each in interpreting and constructing meaning in the visual language of artists.

Above-average responses demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the structural frame as a tool of analysis combined with an extensive knowledge of the way critics and historians interpret and construct meaning. These responses provided detailed accounts that quoted specific critics’ and historians’ explanations of how they interpret the language of artists and artworks. These responses extended and acknowledged the role of different audiences, the different forums in which critical dialogue takes place and the different stylistic approaches adopted by a range of historical and contemporary examples. The complex and differing methodologies of critics were elaborated on to support a sophisticated explanation of the critical and historical discourses surrounding the visual language of artists and artworks.

Teachers and students are advised that responses should comprehensively explain the relationships between historical and critical writing and the artists and artworks discussed. These links need to be clearly identified and explained with reference to specific examples in order to address all aspects of the question.

Body of Work submissions


Within the (approximately) 9600 Visual Arts submissions, a diverse range of approaches was evident in each of the 12 expressive forms. The most popular expressive form is still Painting; however this year saw a significant increase again in Photomedia, with a continuing interest in digital forms. Fewer submissions were received this year in black and white photography. There continues to be an increase in the number of submissions in every expressive form that include documentation to support the intentions of the work, including photographs and digital images, DVDs or CDs.

Responses to the body of work

Some candidates presented single works that were evidence of a sustained engagement with practice in a particular expressive form such as Painting or Sculpture. It is important for teachers and students to note that this is an acceptable way for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of practice. Other works revealed a knowledgeable awareness of contemporary interests in the art world such as installation, documentation, hyper-reality and museology. Works were often presented as installations, showing an awareness of audience on the part of the candidate. Some works included an artist’s statement, documentation in the form of diagrams, photographs, working drawings or film/video pieces, the latter usually presented as a DVD and making use of a range of available and accessible film and sound editing software applications.

There was evidence that candidates have continued to use the frames and the conceptual framework in ways which extended their ideas and assisted them with structuring their works. An awareness of the audience, and how artworks communicate meanings in a range of contexts, was also reflected in the submissions in 2009. A strong study of relevant artists and their practice, along with contemporary issues and ideas in the art world, was evident in many of the submissions. A number of submissions demonstrated understanding of contemporary exhibition practice, seeing the opportunity for bodies of work to be presented to audiences in intentional and considered ways.

Many candidates presented works which thoughtfully reflected on their own immediate adolescent world of personal and cultural identity, friends, families and relationships, and all the various joys, conflicts, and pressures that these involve. The world of the family and the school was represented in many different ways, with a particular focus on family connections across generations and often across cultural divides, revealing an awareness of how multiculturalism plays out in the context of family. There were a number of lyrical and evocative tributes to grandparents and parents. Many candidates worked within historical genres and conventions of art practice such as landscape, still life and the portrait, while others demonstrated a confident familiarity with more contemporary conventions such as installation, performance and documentation.

Candidates should carefully consider their audiences. In some cases, the public contexts for the production of the works in schools and the marking of the examination may make some forms of representation inappropriate. Teachers, in particular, should carefully consider issues such as Child Protection legislation in relation to how they are able to appropriately supervise the production of certain works, including those that involve nudity (in particular, of under-age models), sexuality, abuse, self harm, drugs or other controversial material. Teachers need to be conscious of their responsibilities and audiences within the school as well as the broader examination context, and aware of the possible implications for candidates. Advice to schools regarding content in HSC submitted works is provided on the Board of Studies website.

Selection of works for body of work submission

The syllabus outlines the importance of the selection of works for submission. Students should carefully consider how their intentions and their knowledge and understanding of artmaking practice are represented in the works they select.

Above-average works showed evidence of thoughtful and considered selection in relation to how the submission as a whole demonstrated the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of practice. Some candidates could have made stronger critical curatorial judgements about the inclusion of some pieces, and teachers are encouraged to assist candidates in refining their choices. Some candidates continue to submit more pieces than are necessary to convincingly represent their understanding of practice. In particular, candidates should carefully consider the submission of time-based elements included as one aspect of their Body of Work, to ensure that they do not merely reiterate the imagery and meanings of other pieces. Visual Arts Process Diaries should not be submitted. The inclusion of an artist’s statement should be carefully considered and in most cases is unnecessary.

Assigning submissions to a particular expressive form

Candidates are advised to place their work in one of the expressive forms nominated in the syllabus. Candidates should select the expressive form that has been their primary interest or focus. The multidisciplinary nature of contemporary art will mean that edges between forms are blurred. Candidates need to make choices that reflect their primary intentions.

Subject rules – overall limitations on size, weight, dangerous and prohibited materials and duration

Teachers and students are referred to the updated course prescriptions on the Board of Studies website. In particular, careful attention must be paid to the ‘dangerous and prohibited materials’ listed. Teachers and candidates are advised that works must respect all the conditions of the HSC examination to access the full range of marks in the Marking Guidelines. The submission must comply with all of the subject rules, whether it is to be marked corporately or itinerantly.

For example, Bodies of Work may include sculptural works and two-dimensional works. In these cases, the total volume must not exceed one cubic metre, and the limit for a flat work is two square metres for any single item – a painting or one panel in a series of paintings – and the area of the whole submission is to be no larger than six square metres. The volume should be measured first; then other requirements should be checked.

Instructions for display for marking

All Bodies of Work, including submissions in two dimensions (2D), submissions in three dimensions (3D), or submissions with two- and three-dimensional components, must comply with the size limitations when displayed for marking.

Candidates may wish to include instructions for displaying their work in order to indicate their intentions more clearly. However, candidates need to be mindful of the limitations of the marking process and ensure that their requests can be accommodated in a reasonable amount of time and without complex set-up requirements. They also need to carefully consider whether their set-up plan will comply with the required size limitations.

The size of a Body of Work is determined when the work is displayed for marking. The area of a 2D submission, and the volume of either a 3D submission or a submission with 2D and 3D works, are calculated by including the negative space or spaces between each of the works when displayed for marking. Further advice about calculating the size of a body of work can be found in the Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 document on the Board of Studies website.

A picture or diagram indicating how the work could be viewed is helpful. Some candidates chose to include photographs of their works in exhibition. Candidates should indicate, however, if the image is intended to instruct markers as to how the work should be displayed, or is an image of the work in another context, such as an exhibition, where the work may have been legitimately displayed in an area larger than the one cubic metre or six square metres allowed.

If the school’s submissions are to be marked by an itinerant team of markers, it is helpful and appropriate for the works to be unpacked and ready for marking. Where there is a specific set-up required it would be helpful for the school staff to have the work ready for marking. If works are to be displayed in a certain manner, teachers should ensure that it is possible for the markers to comply with these intentions in the space and with the materials (such as easels or boards, Velcro or clips) provided for them. Itinerant markers should not be expected to spend time setting up complex or multi-panelled works for marking.

Labelling of works

During the marking process in 2009, considerable time was spent by clerical staff and markers checking the labelling and paperwork presented by schools. On a number of occasions, the labels for candidates’ works were not completed correctly. It is important that teachers ensure that this has been carefully checked.

Time-based forms

Advice about the submission of time-based works, including duration, as part of submissions in all expressive forms was updated in October 2008 and commenced in the 2009 HSC course. Teachers and students should refer to the advice about submissions in each of the expressive forms in the Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 document to ensure that candidates’ software and presentation formats are consistent with the examination specifications.

Candidates should ensure that the software and the format for presenting works on DVD and CD-ROM can be used on normal commercially available players. Candidates should clearly label VHS, DVD and CD-ROM submissions with the format and program used. Candidates are reminded that they are not permitted to submit works which can only be viewed online. All interactive works must be burned to a disc.

Expressive forms


Submissions in this expressive form included a range of investigations of ceramics practice including hand-built sculptural works and some multiple-piece installations using press mould, slab and coil-built techniques. Works were innovative, challenged conventions and represented concepts in layered ways. Conceptual concerns addressed environmental issues, investigations of the world, cultural identity and the structures of natural and artificial forms.

Many submissions consisted of related pieces designed to reinforce conceptual investigations and provide layered meanings for an audience. Surfaces were manipulated by carving, scraping and piercing, and positive and negative spaces were considered in the creation of forms. Found objects were used to a lesser extent in submissions. Photographs contextualising works in a specific site and documenting processes were popular, as were close ups of surface effects. Paints were used sparingly to subtly extend the variety of tones and accentuate the texture of surfaces.

The better works revealed extensive knowledge of processes and techniques and explored the possibilities of ceramics practice in innovative ways. A sophisticated interpretation of ceramic traditions and contemporary practice was evidenced in tactile sculptural forms. Works were enhanced by a detailed attention to surface treatments that invited sustained exploration of the form. Surface treatments included encrusted and layered slips, painterly underglazes, suede glazes and oxide washes. There was an interesting use of ‘hard edge’ and stencilled colour in the form of glaze or underglaze. Matt surfaces were predominant, with gloss glazes used sparingly to provide contrast.

Teachers and students are advised to evaluate and consider the control of rims, bases and joins when constructing works. The selection, placement and application of glazes, underglazes and slips should be a considered choice and be relevant to the form of the work and its concept.

Collection of works

Submissions in this expressive form engaged with issues relating to family, friends, relationships, rites of passage, memories, identity, the physical world, references to WWI and Anzacs and popular culture.

Works evidenced a broad range of approaches including drawing, painting, sculpture and found objects, with increased numbers of photomedia and time-based works submitted as part of a collection. Photographic inclusions recorded works in different contexts or sites, extending and reinforcing conceptual intentions. Books as a source of image and text and as sculptural mediums, and suitcases as a sculptural and conceptual elements were emerging trends. Works ranged from collections with integrated materials and forms, to submissions with different pieces in a range of different expressive forms.

The better works reflected a deep understanding of artmaking practice and contemporary and traditional art contexts, and evidenced strong curatorial processes. These works seamlessly integrated material and conceptual practices and were highly skilled in their use of materials to convey concepts in subtle and knowledgeable ways.

Clear, simple instructions and/or a photograph of the work as it should be displayed for marking are very helpful. Candidates should ensure that display instructions do not make the submission oversized when specifying the spacing between individual pieces. Titles should be carefully considered, and translations should accompany any title presented in a foreign language.

Candidates are reminded that time-based works must not be longer than three minutes. For time-based works submitted on DVD and CD candidates should ensure that discs are clean and free of fingerprints, smudges, scratches etc. A new disc should be burned shortly before the work is submitted to avoid wear and tear. Candidates should check the newly burned disc to ensure its integrity, and the disc should be labelled with the candidate number and the format used – for example, ‘HD’ for high definition. The disc should be submitted in a labelled DVD or CD case and taped shut.

Advice for teachers and candidates

Clear instructions and/or a photograph or diagram should be included, indicating how works are to be displayed for marking. The size of a Body of Work is determined when the work is displayed for marking. For 2D works, 3D works or works with 2D and 3D components, this means that the calculated area or volume takes into account the negative space or spaces between works. This includes any space(s) between flat works, and any space between a flat work and a 3D piece in a Body of Work.


Traditional subject matter with a strong focus on portraiture and figurative representations exploring friends and family, cultural connections and aspects of the subjective world was a feature of many submissions in this expressive form. Works continued to incorporate a wide range of material choices including coloured pencil and graphite, paint, collage, conte crayon and charcoal. The use of photographic transfer processes featured as a preliminary surface that was then layered and reworked. Many submissions used a photographic base as a starting point for drawing, using readily accessible digital practices to capture the spontaneous moment. Submissions adopting this approach sustained an interpretive practice in which innovative drawing techniques and a richness of mark-making offered a successful translation of the subject matter to drawing.

The better works evidenced a significant knowledge of the expressive potential of material choices contained within the submission. Works were discriminating in their range of visual vocabulary and devices used to amplify and extend an interpretive investigation. These works showed evidence of an ambitious and well-considered approach to composition, framing, cropping and scale, developing a conceptual investigation of subject matter in a way that sustains attention and acknowledges the audience.

Where there was an intention to use repetition, the more successful submissions offered significant and alternative interpretations of the subject using this visual device. Connections to the art world were used to enrich both material and conceptual practice beyond an obvious use of appropriation. The use of multiple images and multiple media within a submission is most successful when it extends or reinvigorates the conceptual and material intent of the work.

Documented forms

Submissions in this expressive form explored contemporary practices investigating the documentation of performance, installation and site-specific contexts. Trends included the installation of figurative sculpture in the landscape, the documentation of temporal events and the inclusion of the artist’s bound book. The use of experimental film techniques and stop-frame animation were notable trends in time-based investigations. Many submissions used photographic practices as a way of documenting. A popular approach to representation was the documentation of sculptural forms installed in various natural and built environments. Some submissions comprised only the photographic record of the installation, evidence of a confident understanding of curatorial practice.

The better works demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the link between conceptual and material decisions seen across the different forms, supported by an awareness of the significance of the selected format of the documentation as an intentional consideration within the work. DVD components showed an increasing awareness of the sound–image interface in time-based work. The time-based components were informed by a knowledge of film conventions and by experimental film techniques.

Candidates and teachers are advised to note the Course Prescriptions for the various components of a submission in Documented Forms, particularly the requirements for including time-based works. Curatorial practice should also be considered in the final submission. Instructions for display of works and an indication of the file type used to format a DVD would be of considerable assistance. Attention to the physical condition of the media or DVD prior to submission is also recommended. Poor surfaces and scratches can interfere with the playing and viewing of these items.

Designed objects

Submissions in this expressive form ranged from costume designs, wearable art, architectural models and product design representing diverse conceptual investigations. Personal interests relating to ethnicity, race, religion, cultural identity and social issues such as consumerism, fashion, global warming and environmental concerns were represented. A range of media was used including natural materials and recycled and manufactured objects, from plastic shopping bags to socks. These materials and objects were hand-sewn, machine-stitched, knitted, glued, appliquéd, silk-screened and photo-released to represent ideas and interests. Many submissions included photographic imagery for documenting, supporting and extending concepts.

Better works demonstrated a sophisticated synthesis of material and conceptual practice. Conceptual practice was supported by a knowledge and understanding of contemporary practice and conventions in art. Submissions showed a thorough understanding of their function as a designed object, and additional pieces helped to reiterate the concept and extend the work.

Candidates and teachers are advised that documentation relating to the submission should only be included if it enhances and extends the conceptual intention of the work. Candidates should carefully consider each work to be included in their submission, and be aware that multiple works may be reiterating rather than extending concepts.

Graphic design

Submissions in this expressive form comprised posters, magazine covers, books, illustrative narratives, comics and product promotions using a diverse range of materials and techniques, including hand-drawn images, painting, printing, stencilling, computer-generated imagery, scanned images and photomedia to represent concepts inspired and supported by an understanding of contemporary media and the art world. Books were a popular form and ranged from the visual narrative genre to personal narratives. A more considered selection of paper stock with a strong preference for matte finishes, combined with greater understanding and skill in the use of computer software, were evident in 2009. A horizontal format, as either a scroll or a series of panels, was a consistent choice of presentation.

The better works revealed an understanding of how ideas and interests can be communicated to an audience through a range of visual codes and devices. These submissions demonstrated an informed understanding of the conventions of text and print, word play and text-as-image to promote meaning and engage the audience through wit and humour. Conceptual strengths reflected the investigation of an idea, revealing layers of meaning and interaction between the audience and the work. A curatorial intent was also apparent and strengthened the resolve within the submission.

If a CD is to be included in a submission, it should be clearly labelled as to whether the disc is to be opened and viewed, or if the inclusion is to show a design feature such as a cover or slick design.

If there are viewing considerations such as the order of the artworks, it is advisable that the submission includes a diagram and works are numbered for order of display.


Both figurative and abstract works were well represented. Portraiture, figure studies and landscape were the dominant interests in figurative work, and experimental surfaces and text were popular in abstract work. Popular social concerns included references to bushfires and to the 2009 American election. A significant interest in combining experimental surfaces with figurative imagery was noted. There was a continued interest in highly realistic representation often combined with a fascination with traditional oil painting techniques. There were fewer submissions containing a large number of components or installation aesthetic.

The better works displayed evidence of an immersion in practice. This was evident in subtle and resonant layering of the ideas explored and in the refinement and development of the technical control necessary to support these ideas. These works presented a coherence of concept and execution where the material qualities such as handling of paint, control of colour, composition and surface articulation were as important to the meaning of the work as the references and imagery and traditions of representation explored.

The choice of the painting surface is an integral part of practice. This is especially significant in understanding how the surface qualities of papers, rather than canvas, enhance the colour and surface qualities of thinner media such as watercolours or ink, and in works where exposed graphite drawing is a strong part of the painting style. Wooden panels provide suitably strong support for works where the application of materials or the attack of the surface is integral to the concerns of the work.

Candidates and teachers are advised to consider the curatorial significance of editing submissions as an integral aspect of artmaking practice. This is significant to both the sequencing and arrangement of works and to the selection of works for submission, to enhance the overall consistency and range of the Body of Work.


Most submissions in this expressive form investigated digital photographic practices, but there were still some that investigated traditional wet photography. Digital camera-based works portraying landscapes, passages of light and atmospheric scenes using the manual mode for time exposures were popular. Other works explored the traditions of film and wet photography using digital postproduction techniques to resolve the final images. Some unconventional surfaces and varied paper stocks such as plastics and metallic, fine art and watercolour papers were used to enhance well-resolved images. Scrolls and books as a format for presenting images was an emergent trend and extended the photographic practice of many submissions.

Many submissions demonstrated an understanding of innovative contemporary practices in art and photography and synthesised these with popular culture to produce a diverse range of imagery. The genres of photo-essay, reportage, portraiture and landscape were well represented, as well as the everyday, and the exploration of self, and of virtual worlds. An increase in staged narratives and studio work, time-lapse photography and an awareness of the digital world were evident.

The better works effectively used digital manipulation programs such as Photoshop in a subtle manner to fine-tune and heighten the qualities of photographs. Compositing and the blending of layers to merge images and incorporate text further extended conceptual intentions. A number of submissions provided some experimental approaches mimicking historic and traditional wet photographic practice, such as cyanotype, black and white photography and chemograms.

A knowledge of file and resolution size and their effects is important for the planning and production of digital prints. Candidates should experiment with the scanner and/or camera to ensure they have the capacity to produce the intended size and resolution of images. Paper stock for printing should be selected with consideration of image reproduction and quality, as colour, tone and saturation can vary. Photomedia practices offer great scope for experimentation and candidates should be encouraged to explore ideas and extend their practice in this expressive form.


Submissions in this expressive form explored a range of relief and intaglio printmaking processes. In particular, lino relief printing and both dry point and solar etching remain popular choices of technique along with a growth in the number of Bodies of Work exploring mono printing and embossing. Some works extended the printmaking process through conventional forms of embellishment such as hand-colouring and à la poupée. A number of works investigated highly expressive, almost painterly, ways of presenting the printed image, and fewer submissions included multiple pieces. The selection and use of traditional and non-traditional printmaking techniques reflected an influence of contemporary art practice. Diverse investigations of subject matter were explored, including the city and suburbia, and the family and relationships. Many works referenced global and local concerns such as the environment, the economy, the human condition and the passage of time.

The better works moved beyond illustrative or derivative representations of subject matter and were able to sustain significant and meaningful investigations of conceptual practice. These submissions demonstrated technical proficiency, often in a number of printmaking practices, and reflected an informed selection of processes to articulate and enhance the conceptual integrity of the work. The works revealed confidence in the layering of images both through collage and relief techniques, and by working with multiple plates during the printing process.

It is not necessary to submit editions and plates. If plates are submitted they should enhance the conceptual intention of the work rather than demonstrate a printmaking practice. When selecting works for inclusion in the final submission, any multiples included should extend rather than duplicate what has already been submitted. It is helpful if the title for the work offers markers insight into possible interpretations of the work rather than a more obvious description of the submission. Works should be clearly numbered and display instructions accompanied by a diagram.


Submissions in this expressive form demonstrated diverse approaches to sculptural practice and revealed a depth of engagement with artmaking practice. The concepts explored included issues relating to adolescence, popular culture, identity, music and global concerns. Figurative representations of human experiences, technology, genetics, biomedical ethics and human impact on the environment were popular. Contemporary practice was seen in the use of industrial processes, text and quotation, museological conventions, hybrid forms and interactive conventions.

Papier maché, found objects, arte povera conventions and the use of boxes as a spatial grid and framing device continued to be popular forms of representation, as were inclusions of photographic, sound and digital components. There were fewer abstract and frontal pieces but an increase in the number of works that included moving images projected onto 3D surfaces, as well as an expressive and innovative use of stencilling and patinas. Bases, when incorporated, were treated as an integral part of the work. Submissions frequently made innovative use of found and inexpensive materials.

The better works sustained audience interest and used a wide range of accessible materials in imaginative and innovative ways. These works reflected well-considered choices and practices and their meanings and references registered with multiple interpretations. There was a synergy between the use of materials and conceptual investigations.

Candidates and teachers are advised to consider carefully the inclusion of photographs in a submission. Some photographic inclusions extended concepts and documented works in different contexts, but other inclusions only duplicated aspects of the sculpture that could be seen in its physical form. Documentary photographs should only be submitted if they extend concepts and meaning. Some inclusions made the submission oversized. Clear and simple instructions should be considered for setting up and displaying works, in the form of an annotated diagram and photograph.

Textiles and fibre

Submissions in this expressive area revealed an exploration of textile and fibre practices to make quilts, wall hangings, singular, multi-framed and unstructured panels. Surfaces, materials and fibres were manipulated, treated and worked with hand- and machine stitching, appliqué, painting, drawing and printing. Printed and purchased fabrics, commercial and hand-made papers, felt and a seemingly infinite variety of threads were investigated and used to represent ideas and interests, and many submissions embedded text into the surfaces to elaborate and communicate intentions. There were a considerable number of submissions that integrated scanned images and digital manipulation techniques with textile and fibre practices. Concepts ranged from issues of identity, religion and cultural heritage to wider social concerns such as consumerism, global warming, and celebration of the natural world.

The better works successfully combined and manipulated materials to create expressive and visually exciting surfaces and forms. An understanding of the historical conventions and traditions of textiles practices was evident, as was a knowledge of contemporary art and the currency of using non-traditional materials to make works. Submissions reflected a sustained engagement with and understanding of the possibilities of a range of materials, and engaged the audience in complex ways.

Candidates should carefully consider the editing process. Some submissions took the form of multiples and contained a substantial number of pieces that did not serve to further support their intentions. If there are viewing considerations such as the order of artworks, it is advisable that works are numbered in the order they should be displayed and a diagram for display is included.

Time-based forms

Submissions in this expressive form reflected a growing interest in stop motion animation using a variety of innovative filmic effects. Sound mixing was used as a feature to construct atmosphere and the innovative development of narratives; post-production techniques included motion graphics and split screens to explore and represent filmic conventions.

Works demonstrated a range of approaches to representing ideas and interests through cinematic conventions. Audio mixing was effectively and subtly used to reinforce the mood and communicate ideas. A knowledgeable use of camera angles, close-up, continuity, cutting and characterisation techniques, and the careful and considered pacing and sequencing of narratives, contributed to the overall energy the works. The amalgamation of idea and form highlighted a knowledgeable investigation of cinematic conventions.

The better works generated a cinematic presence that was powerful and evocative. Key techniques such as camera angles, continuity and editing were well considered and seamlessly integrated while sound scripting was clear, concise and highly effective. A differentiation of camera angles and strong edits that mimicked sound tracks was a technique that created a fluid transition between scenes, and conveyed concepts convincingly. An appropriate and considered use of special effects and a refined use of digital manipulation reinforced highly developed skills in, and knowledge of, post-production techniques.

Candidates and teachers need to investigate and experiment with the practice of cinema and videography in order to be aware of it as a language that employs subtle conventions and demands. Editing choices need to be considered in relation to the effects of the soundtrack, the differentiation of camera angles, continuity of scenes and the development of ideas and a narrative. Sound engineering should be as much a priority as the image, with consideration of the recording of dialogues and the use and mixing of music tracks to ensure clarity. Research into a range of conventions, traditions and contemporary practices, styles and genres such as conventional narrative, experimental film and multimedia will assist candidates in developing an understanding of the possibilities of this expressive form.


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