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2010 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 2010 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 2010 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.

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 marks allocated to the question and the answer space (where this is provided on the examination paper), are guides to the length of the required response. A longer response will not in itself lead to higher marks. Writing in excess of the space allocated 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

Teachers and students are reminded that mark allocations may vary in Section I of the examination paper. Section I responses should remain succinct and should be written within the suggested time. Students should carefully read all the source material, including text extracts, quotes and citations.

Question 1

In better responses, candidates made a careful examination of the source material, exploring and analysing the signs, symbols and stylistic qualities found in the painting. Some responses cited clothing and adornments as evidence of wealth and social status, while facial expression, scale and gesture were interpreted to represent abstract concepts of power, royalty and prestige. The Latin text was also used as evidence of King Henry’s importance. Some responses investigated the relationship between the artist and his subject, identifying the role of patronage and the intended function of the artwork as a symbol of power, and a way of imposing authority on an audience. A number of responses focused on conventions of portraiture and traditional techniques, thereby placing the artwork in the context of the time.

Question 2

Most candidates demonstrated sound knowledge of the cultural frame to identify cultural identity as the qualities that characterise Australian society and the Australian experience of landscape. This identification emerged most commonly through the interpretation of the plates rather than definition. The subject matter of the photographs allowed responses to concentrate on both attitudes to the land and to human interventions in the land. Ideas about the impact of domesticity on the landscape were related to both positive cultural representations of being at home in the landscape and negatively to the impact of consumerist culture on natural resources. Plate 3 responses were predominantly associated with negative consequences of a culture of carelessness and damage to the environment. Both photographs elicited discussion of Aboriginal cultural attitudes to the land, secular and spiritual beliefs, multiculturalism and globalisation. Representation was most commonly explored through iconic choice of landscape and visual devices of juxtaposition and contrast related to the polarities of urban and natural environments.

A complex and knowledgeable understanding of how artworks can represent ideas characterised better responses. Many candidates identified the work as postmodern and in this context defined its hybrid qualities. Discussion of representation went beyond the identification of subject matter to consider the visual qualities specific to these images which supported artistic intention and cultural communication. The understanding of cultural identity in these responses could clearly articulate the common assumptions and shared experience within a culture which allowed the audience to participate in the representation of ideas through artworks. Interpretations were fluently expressed and clearly supported by reference to the particular qualities of the plates.

Question 3

A range of source material was provided to amplify notions of artmaking practice, including images of 3D artworks created by Oppenheim, and text relating to the collaborative nature of her practice, her relationship with the Surrealists and her rise to fame.

Many responses to this question revealed a sound knowledge and understanding of artistic practice, and an ability to apply that knowledge to the source material presented. Diverse interpretations of the works were discussed, including the transformation of functional and everyday inanimate objects to objects with ‘life’, most frequently poultry and wild beasts; notions of class, social etiquette and the pastimes associated with social activities such as ‘taking tea’; the possible relationship of Oppenheim with her ‘nurse’ and ideas about the stereotypical roles of women at that time.

Better responses demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of practice and used highly sophisticated arguments to support their views, often with reference to how meaning is constructed both materially and conceptually. This was further supported by insightful and elaborated interpretations of the source material.

Links were readily drawn with the practice of Surrealist and Dada artists, and the use by artists of found objects and assemblage techniques. These were extended in discussions about the elevation of the everyday object to a ‘high’ art status. Students are advised to develop their interpretation and appreciation of the aspects of practice beyond material practice, with consideration of the artist’s conceptual intentions, in order to demonstrate depth and breadth in their understanding of this aspect of content.

Section II


Question 4

Responses to this question demonstrated knowledge of artistic practice and the interlocking relationships of different aspects of collaboration. Alex Kershaw’s statement espoused the concept of collaboration within artistic practice and was utilised extensively in the responses. Collaboration was understood in a variety of ways: as artists enlisting the specialist skills of artisans; as teams of people used to create site-specific and environmental artworks; as the joint venture of the curator and artist; the relationship between the artist and patron; and as interactive audience participation with an artwork. A diverse range of artists, both historical and contemporary, were referenced including Duchamp, Picasso, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Ah Xian, Ai Wei Wei, Jean-Claude and Christo, Goldsworthy, Piccinini, Gilbert and George, and Banksy. These artists and artworks were discussed with reference to the collaboration they had established which in turn had influenced and shaped their artistic practice.

Better responses demonstrated an informed understanding of collaboration in artistic practice and its significance with reference to selected artists and artworks. These responses synthesised an explanation of artistic practice, linking intentions, choices and audience to the divergent roles of the artist in the inception of an artwork. Knowledgeable discussions elaborated upon the complexity of artistic collaborative practice and were well supported by the selection of appropriate artists and artworks. Evident in these responses was the identification and explanation of why some artists make an informed choice to work collaboratively. These responses demonstrated an understanding that the significance of the artist’s choice to engage in a collaborative practice was a crucial component in fully addressing the question.

The study of art practice encompasses identifiable components of intention, influence and material practice, including choices and decisions made by the artist.  It is advisable to consider and have awareness of these components.

Question 5

Many responses to this question demonstrated a sound knowledge of artistic practice and a range of interpretation of possible constraints on artists’ practice.

Candidates took a multitude of approaches, with many favouring an exploration of the concepts of site, audience expectations, materials and techniques. Allied to this was a discussion on revolutionary approaches to practice and the impact of emerging materials and technologies of specific times, such as Earth Art, Duchamp’s readymades, street art and the appropriation of commercial media techniques.

A diverse range of artists was referenced including Monet, Matisse, Duchamp, Pollock, Warhol, Smithson, Christo, Chicago, Orlan, Kruger, Goldsworthy, Henson and Banksy. These artists were discussed with reference to their ability to work around pre-existing constraints, particularly in relation to contemporaneous critical and audience expectation. A limited number of designers and architects were discussed.

Better responses demonstrated a thorough understanding of the dynamics of art practice. They presented sophisticated discussions of artistic practice using a number of artists and often addressed more than two of the bullet points required by the question. Insightful interpretations of possible constraints were brought to the question and then used to explore the bullet points to account for the changing practice of artists.

These responses explored the complexities of artistic practice in a multi-layered way and were well supported by the selection of appropriate artists and artworks to develop a sustained interpretation of the question. A causal link between constraints and the evolving practice of artists was clearly demonstrated in these responses. Innovations that subverted existing conventions such as alternate forms of representation, the evolution of site-specific works, non-gallery/museum works and performance-based works were discussed in relation to choices made by artists in their practice.

It is advisable to clearly define which bullet points are to be referenced in a question such as this, and to carefully select appropriate examples to ensure a sustained, well-supported response.

Conceptual framework

Question 6

Responses to this question demonstrated a broad range of interpretations supported by diverse examples from historical and contemporary contexts. The question provided the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the significant relationships between agencies in the conceptual framework to support and direct an explanation of the many ways artists borrow from each other. Popular examples included Morimura, Sherman, Duchamp, Rauschenberg, Titian, Ingres, Manet, Warhol, Goya and the Chapman Brothers, with better responses demonstrating an acute awareness of the links between artworks discussed and notions of originality.

Better responses gave a comprehensive, well-reasoned explanation of the ways artists reconfigure, extend, recontextualise, appropriate, mimic and are influenced by the conceptual and material practices of other artists as a feature of both the historical and contemporary art world. Explanations were consistently supported by appropriate examples that were well chosen to highlight the position taken. These responses confidently addressed the issue of originality by referring to the uniqueness of the artist’s intention, particular style or interpretation of conventions associated with historical genres and subject matter in new ways.

More generalised explanations tended to reference the impact and influence of events in the world as an interpretation of the way artists can borrow from other artists, rather than developing a sustained argument about originality, influence, recontextualisation or strategies of appropriation. In adapting case studies to examination questions it is important that all aspects of the question are explored.

Question 7

Many responses to this question addressed the demand in a broad manner, interpreting ‘digital media’ to mean both the mode of production as well as a way to view and experience the artworks discussed. Most responses focused on a variety of ways in which digital media can be used to provoke or challenge the audience. Artworks identified as digital media included works viewed on the internet, video installations, digital photography and cinematography. Varying degrees of persuasive discussion centred on strategies employed by artists in their use of digital media, accounting for the change in the audience’s perception and experience of such works.

In better responses, candidates identified the key demand of the question in terms of the relationship between the artwork and audience. They lucidly explained specific artworks, demonstrating a thorough knowledge of artists’ intention to challenge the audience. These explanations demonstrated complex understandings specific to the production of artworks discussed and were able to identify significant meanings. Historical and contemporary examples were often effectively used to address the demands of the question. Artists selected were often recognised as ‘agents provocateurs’: innovative and idiosyncratic practitioners whose role was to confront the audience.


Question 8

Responses to this question demonstrated a broad range of interpretations, supported by diverse examples from historic and contemporary contexts. A smaller number of responses dealt with one practitioner as an exemplar. Most responses positioned their argument in the structural frame, while others extrapolated notions of visual language through other frames, extending meanings in personal, cultural and reconfigured contexts. Meanings in artworks were discussed in terms of audience readings and artists’ intentions. Symbols were broadly considered and included visual, personal, cultural, universal and conceptual symbolism. Organisational relationships were equally broad in interpretation, and included the relationship between visual symbols and conventions in an artwork; the relationship of a work to a body of work; and the relationship of an artwork to an audience, artist and the world. 

Better responses demonstrated an understanding of the frames as a tool of analysis, combined with well-reasoned, logical and insightful arguments about the ways artists communicate meanings in their works. Arguments were layered and convincing, supported by significant examples that were interpreted in insightful and knowledgeable ways. These responses demonstrated an enriched understanding of how the frames set up different relationships with and between the agencies of the artworld. Strong critical arguments were presented through a sustained analysis of symbols, conventions and relationships, supported with rich and extensive interpretation of practitioners and artworks.  Conclusions were convincing culminations of judgements.

Question 9

Many responses to this question presented broad interpretations using a range of artists that spanned the breadth of art historical periods to the present. Many responses established a premise on which to base their discussion.  These included such aspects as the artist's intentions, and audience responses that related to political, social, religious, personal or cultural positions. The notion that interpretations of artworks may change over time, that some works are intentionally ephemeral, that the context or location of an artwork (such as site-specific works, or works installed in galleries) may affect the range of possible meanings, were explored. Audience subjectivity and interpretation was very well understood and addressed by many candidates. Some responses demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which meaning can be communicated through subject matter and material practice.

Better responses revealed a well-developed knowledge of their chosen artists and artworks, and understood how to relate this knowledge to the demands of the question. These responses successfully argued that artworks can be interpreted from a range of perspectives including those of artists, critics and audiences. Some responses critiqued the artworks and art-making practices of artists who challenged the paradigms of meaning. This created the possibility for new interpretations by different audiences over time.

Body of work submissions


A diverse range of approaches to the body of work was evident. The most popular expressive form is still Painting; however, there was significant increase again in Photomedia, with a continuing interest in digital forms. There continues to be an increase in the number of submissions that include documentation to support the intentions of the work, including photographs and digital images, DVDs or CD-ROMs and time-based forms.

There were a range of responses to the body of work, including single works and works with a number of individual pieces. Some candidates presented single works that were evidence of a sustained engagement with practice in a particular expressive form such as Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Design. 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 artworld such as installation, documentation, site-specific artworks and museology. Works were often presented as installations, showing an awareness of audience on the part of the candidate to support their intentions. 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.

An awareness of the audience, and how artworks communicate meanings in a range of contexts, was also reflected. Candidates used the frames and the conceptual framework in ways which extended their ideas and assisted them with structuring their works. A strong study of relevant artists and their practice, along with contemporary issues and ideas in the artworld, was evident in many of the submissions. A number of submissions demonstrated an 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 world of personal and cultural identity, origins and connections, friends, families and relationships, their place in the world, 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. 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. 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 and are not marked. 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 must place their work in one of the 12 expressive forms nominated in the syllabus.

Candidates should select the expressive form that has been their primary artmaking interest or focus. The multidisciplinary nature of contemporary art will mean that edges between forms are often blurred. Candidates need to make choices that reflect their primary intentions.

Technical requirements

Teachers and students are referred to the course prescriptions in Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 on the Board of Studies website. In particular, careful attention must be paid to the ‘dangerous and prohibited materials’ listed. The subject rules on size, weight, dangerous and prohibited materials and duration apply to works whether they are marked corporately or itinerantly.

In particular, the size of a submission if it contains two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D) works requires careful monitoring to ensure it is not larger than one cubic metre when displayed for marking. For example, a body of work may include sculptural works and two-dimensional works. In these cases, the total volume must not exceed one cubic metre. 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, is 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 if it 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, advice to schools regarding the set-up and display of works at itinerant marking is available on Schools Online. Itinerant markers should not be expected to spend time setting up complex or multi-panelled works for marking.

Labelling of works

All submitted works must be labelled. During the marking process in 2010, 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

Teachers and students should refer to the advice about time-based forms submissions and submissions in each of the expressive forms in the Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 document to ensure that the duration, 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 standard consumer hardware. 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 ceramics explored a range of material practices and concepts. A number of submissions consisted of large, hand-built sculptural forms and the dissection and reconstruction of forms referencing ceramics traditions and contemporary practices. Conceptual concerns included world environmental issues, investigations of the natural and built environments, cultural investigations and the human condition, in particular conflict. Submissions consisted of multiple forms, with conceptually linked pieces reinforcing layered meanings. Many works challenged conventions, expressing concepts in innovative ways and often subtly integrating other materials.
A range of construction techniques were used to articulate concepts including combinations of slab- and coil-built forms embellished with intricate surface textures and extended by the use of oxides, stains and under-glazes. An increase in the number of sawdust-fired forms revealed an extensive engagement in construction, burnishing and firing.

Works in the higher-mark range displayed a sophisticated understanding of construction processes and decoration techniques and the expressive potential of clay to represent concepts. An awareness of contemporary ceramic practice was evident in the interpretive forms and layered surface treatments, often reflecting multiple firings. Works invited a sustained investigation through the creation of highly worked surfaces that enveloped the form. Surfaces were often scraped to ‘open’ the clay body, which was then carved and incised. Press-moulded ‘found’ textures were integrated into forms to extend surface possibilities and these were accentuated with under-glazes, slips and oxide washes. Glaze was used sparingly and matt surfaces predominated, reflecting knowledgeable restraint.

Candidates are advised that a display diagram should be included where a conceptual or formal relationship between forms is fundamental to the interpretation of the work. 

Collection of works

A broad range of expressive forms was investigated, including printmaking, collections of objects in boxes and suitcases, drawing, found materials, painting, sculpture, photomedia and DVD inclusions. Popular subject matter included the human body, scientific investigations, nature, war, family, the adolescent world, self-identity and relationships. Some submissions were single pieces that explored a range of media within one work; other submissions consisted of a number of pieces that were most often linked conceptually.

In the better works, there was a sophisticated and sensitive synthesis of conceptual and material practice and the representation of an understanding of historical and contemporary art practice. The works were both skilful as well as conceptually engaging, with meaning embedded in the selection and use of materials and techniques. Works were layered, offering a range of interpretations, and there was evidence of strong curatorial practices in the selection of works that extended and elaborated meanings. There was also consideration of audience and how works were to be viewed.

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.


Popular subject matter included investigations featuring fantasy genre and popular culture imagery, coupled with representations of alternative worlds and a continued interest in street art. There was strong interest in the practice of contemporary artists, and a growing interest in the use of highly detailed fine-point pen to render highly patterned surfaces and create elaborate tonal ranges.

Material practice included a renewed interest in colour, incorporating the preparation and layering of under-surfaces with gesso, water colour, ink staining and wash. These surfaces were further elaborated using layers of collage, ink, watercolour, pastel, graphite and charcoal. The development of hybrid forms, where digital media applications were used both as an independent drawing tool and as an extension to conventional drawing, was popular.

Works in the higher-mark range reflected a growing awareness of and engagement with contemporary drawing practice. A strong understanding of curatorial practice in these works indicated a sophisticated knowledge of the way selection is informed by a deliberate intention and a considered awareness of the audience. Submissions revealed an informed understanding and response to subjective and personal contexts as well as the world as a source of ideas for artmaking.

Candidates are advised to carefully consider each work included in their submission and be aware that some works may be reiterating rather than extending concepts.

Documented forms

Submissions in this expressive form explored a range of approaches to documentation as an artmaking practice. Works represented a record of an event or performance, documentation of a site and temporary installations. Many works included documentation using film and digital media often combined with the submission of an ‘artefact’. Popular subject matter included using the body as a surface for painting, the urban environment, nature, ecology and the manipulation and transformation of materials such as paper and found objects. Books were primarily used as a vehicle to present photographic images and some submissions successfully incorporated printmaking as an additional component.

Works in the higher-mark range included various components that elaborated on the concepts, adding breadth to the submission rather than being repetitive, and reflected an awareness of audience interaction. The submissions represented a highly developed understanding of contemporary art practice, including the validity of conceptually based artworks.

Candidates should consider the selection and curation of the works submitted to ensure that multiple works extend rather than reiterate concepts. Candidates should also consider set-up requirements and ensure they are not complex, and that components including CD-ROMs and DVDs are formatted and labelled appropriately.

Designed objects

Submissions in this expressive form included wearables, architectural and product design and costume design. Personal and family relationships, personal and cultural identity, and religion, as well as the investigation and exploration of social issues such as consumerism, recycling and environmental concerns were popular concepts. A number of submissions incorporated the integration of a range of media such as drawing, painting, collage, assemblage and digital media. A diverse range of material practice included the use of manufactured, natural and recycled materials which were machine stitched, hand sewn, glued, dyed, printed, drawn and painted. Traditional techniques such as knitting, beading, crocheting and fabric dyeing were used in innovative ways to transform materials and explore concepts. Found objects and recycled materials were skilfully manipulated and selected to articulate the conceptual intent of works.

Submissions in the higher-mark range integrated material and conceptual practice in subtle and innovative ways and demonstrated a knowledge and understanding of the symbolic intent of materials and images. These works demonstrated an understanding and refinement of materials and techniques, and a strong curatorial practice was also evident in the resolution and presentation of works.

Candidates are advised to include photographic documentation with wearable submissions to illustrate how the work is intended to be worn.

Graphic design

Submissions in this expressive form included posters, magazine covers, magazines, books, illustrative narratives, storybooks, graphic novels, product promotions such as T-shirts, and vinyl covers created in an extensive range of media and techniques. Hand-drawn images in pen and ink, soft tip pens, coloured pencils, painting, printing, stencilling, computer-generated work, scanned images and photomedia were employed to represent concepts inspired and supported by an understanding of contemporary media and the artworld. Hand-made and self-published books were a popular form and ranged from the visual narrative genre to personal accounts. Concepts were diverse, ranging from adolescent journeys, friendships, animals, stories of heroic deeds and cultural and spiritual narratives. There was evidence of consideration of paper stock, combined with proficiency in the use of computer software.

Submissions in the higher-mark range demonstrated an informed understanding of the conventions of text and print, the exploration of word play, text as image to promote meaning, and often engaged the audience with wit and humour. Conceptual strengths reflected the investigation and exploration of a concept, selection of imagery to reveal layers of meaning and interaction between the audience and the work. A curatorial intent was also apparent and strengthened the resolve within the submission.

Candidates are advised that if a CD-ROM is included in a submission, it should be clearly labelled to indicate whether it should be opened and viewed or whether it has been included to show a design feature such as a cover. It is advisable that if the works are to be viewed in a particular order, they are numbered, and a diagram showing the layout for marking is included. If submitting printed digital submissions, there is a need to consider file size and resolution and their effect on the final print quality of imagery.


Submissions explored a range of emotional communication with both vibrant, joyous colour and monochromic or subdued palettes. Figurative conventions dominated the submissions, and the enduring fascination of exploring personal and cultural identity through portraiture continues to engage many candidates. There was a marked increase in the exploration of imagined realities through the fantasy genre and in the power of art to communicate social and political concerns, with environmental and Indigenous issues receiving most attention. City and landscapes continued to be popular. Abstraction remains a significant interest for many candidates, though there was a shift from the expressive towards investigation of formal qualities. There was some interest in applied surfaces but less exploration of the inclusion of photographic, video or other non-painted elements within submissions. Both single- and multi-panel bodies of work continued to be well represented. Acrylic paint on canvas dominated, but some submissions used oil paint and sticks, watercolour, gouache and inks. Some works incorporated dry drawing materials.

Better works evidenced a thoughtful and sustained practice in painting through the subtlety and depth of the conceptual investigations and the development of material facility to communicate these investigations. These works achieved integrity of painting practice where the intentions and richness of the work were evident in both the exploration of imagery and the physical and visual qualities of the painted surface. Works set up complex engagements with the audience through material and conceptual depth that revealed itself through immediate impact and built-in strength with prolonged looking.


Submissions in this expressive form included an investigation of digital photography and traditional analogue practices that were integrated with the ‘digital darkroom’. Genres of studio portraiture, the documentary, the urban environment, landscape studies, macro compositions, time exposure, magic realism and adolescent identity were explored. The printed surface was carefully considered through the exploitation of varied paper stocks such as plastics, metallic, fine art and watercolour papers, and vinyl and polymer canvases. Matt paper was a popular choice. Scrolls and books were also well used to extend many submissions. A number of works consisted of images presented as a file on a DVD.

In the better works, an understanding of postmodern photographic practice and knowledge of various contemporary art photographers informed practice, and cinematic references were popular with staged and directed narratives.

Material practices revealed a complex and innovative integration of other media areas, and Photoshop was used subtly to refine and enhance the qualities of the images. Traditional wet photography was alluded to through the use of scanned negatives, photograms, paper reaction to chemicals and exposure to light. These techniques were skilfully integrated with digital images. The negative was also referenced with the use of screens and borders, and a range of cameras such as the ‘Holga’ and ‘Diana’ was used to create different effects and multiple images and to successfully communicate conceptual intentions. There was an awareness of lighting and exposure, with exploration of both artificial and natural light sources, tonality in black-and-white digital prints, bit depth, exposure and depth of field.

Candidates are advised when using RAW and JPEG sized files that resolution is crucial for the planning and production of digital prints. The use of aperture, shutter and control of exposure are important aspects of capturing refined images.


Submissions in this expressive form explored a range of relief and intaglio printmaking processes. Lino relief printing, mono printing, drypoint and solar etching remain popular choices of technique. Many submissions combined several printmaking processes and an increasing practice was the extension of the printmaking process through conventional forms of embellishment such as embossing, hand colouring, Chine-collé and printing onto coloured papers and fabrics. Sequential narratives were popular, and the scale of submissions varied from small intimate works to large-scale prints. Diverse investigations of subject matter were explored, including the natural and built environment, travel, the animal kingdom, popular icons, the family and relationships. Conceptually, works referenced personal and universal responses to subject matter such as religion, war, belief, the environment, culture and heritage.

Works in the higher-mark range demonstrated technical proficiency and reflected confident discrimination in the selection of works for submission. These works reflected significant and meaningful investigations of concepts beyond illustrative or derivative representations of subject matter. Works were highly considered in both the layering of images and construction of compositions and represented a sustained investigation of selected approaches to printmaking practice.

Candidates and teachers are advised that it is not necessary to submit editions and plates or blocks. If multiples are presented as part of a submission, they should extend rather than reiterate concepts. Consideration should be given to the type and weight of paper to accommodate different printmaking techniques.


Subject matter included the environment, popular culture, animals, music, the adolescent world, social and global issues, dislocation and psychological states. Contemporary practice was evident in works that included multimedia components and interactive pieces. Photographs and drawings often placed works in different contexts and extended their meanings.

There were fewer figurative works and an increase in abstract works. Single forms and assemblages were common, including the deconstruction of found and recycled objects, particularly musical instruments, household items and cardboard. Many works were embellished with colour, stenciling and text to enhance surface qualities.

The better works demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the traditions and innovations of practice and a sound understanding of the potential of sculptural conventions. They represented a sustained investigation of concepts and meanings. Interactive works reflected consideration of the audience and their engagement.

Candidates and teachers are advised that if there is a specific relationship between pieces in a submission, a photograph or diagram indicating the set up of the work would assist marking. If battery-powered devices are used, a spare set of batteries should be included. Due to temperature fluctuations, materials such as wax can become unstable.

Textiles and fibre

Submissions in this expressive form included soft sculpture, wall hangings, fabric collage and quilts and investigated concepts and interests including the landscape, cultural identity, the environment, gender and family history. The works referenced a confident understanding of a range of modernist art movements and contemporary art practices. A diverse range of fabrics, fibres and found materials were used, including silk threads, handmade and purchased papers, natural objects, plastics, photographs, lace, wool, silks, commercially printed fabrics and digital transfers. Some works were to be viewed from both the front and the back, extending ideas about different cultural contexts and identity.

In the better works, surfaces were embellished with subtle and sophisticated combinations of fabrics, images and textures, demonstrating a confident understanding of traditional and contemporary textiles practice. There was evidence of a sound and informed selection process, with combinations of fabrics, papers and colours used symbolically to create meaning. In submissions with multiple pieces, narratives were developed over the series of works, and each individual work contributed to the overall meaning.

Candidates and teachers are advised to number works if they are to be viewed in a sequence, and to provide a diagram if works are to be displayed in a specific way for marking.

Time-based forms

Traditional narratives, experimental digital films, stop animations and music videos were popular approaches. Camera craft, non-linear editing and sound engineering continued to increase in sophistication and resolution. The impact of music video aesthetics as well as contemporary art videographers was evident in a number of works. 

Submissions represented evocative visual situations and highlighted the effective use of lighting and post-production effects. Specific genres such as suspense and fantasy were synthesised with more experimental approaches to create moody, atmospheric accounts of the subject. Cinematic conventions and the knowledgeable sequencing of events were effectively used to reinforce concepts.

The availability of high-definition cameras and non-linear editing programs enabled ideas and interests to be represented in new and innovative ways, including split and multiple screens to convey complex temporal settings within scenes, and digital animation and filters integrated with live action.

The better responses demonstrated both a technical understanding of camera operation, sound recording and editing and the investigation of a sustained concept. Camera angles, the strategic edits of scenes to establish pace and the sophisticated layering of sound were effectively used.

Candidates and teachers are advised to ensure aspects such as the format ratio, image quality, manual white balance and focus, file management in editing and the codec compression for authoring DVDs are considered. Compression often occurred in more than one codec, which resulted in a loss of image resolution.


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