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2011 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 2011 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 2011 Higher School Certificate examination, the marking guidelines and other support documents 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 that are not included in the glossary, such as ‘design’, ‘translate’ or ‘list’.

Written examination

Section I

Question 1

Responses to this question addressed both the material and the conceptual aspects of Beckett’s artmaking practice. Many responses concentrated on the evocative painting techniques used to represent the beach in terms of place, exploring concepts such as nostalgia and memory. Some responses explored the artist’s affinity with the iconic nature of the beach and the landscape, linking this to Australian cultural identity. The fact that both works were on the same board was interpreted as further evidence of place providing a stimulus to practice.

In better responses, candidates sustained an exploration of practice using the stylistic qualities found in the source material to present a convincing argument. They explored the significance of plein air painting to facilitate an immediate and spontaneous response to the stimulation of a particular place. The atmospheric effects of light, haze and sun-bleached colour and the use of painterly brushstrokes were linked to conceptual practice, suggesting identity and a connection with place.

Candidates should assess what is implied by the source material and should present interpretive responses that avoid listing only obvious features.

Question 2

Many responses to this question used the source material to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the conceptual framework and the interactive nature of the relationships between the artist, artwork and audience. Inferences were made about the nature of Neto’s artwork through the audience’s physical relationships with it and how this is representative of the contemporary artworld, therefore challenging the conventional understanding of how an artwork is experienced. The plates were used primarily to describe how familiar materials were used in an unfamiliar way.

Better responses referenced all of the source material to explore how individual artists’ intentions are dissolved and how artists shift the role of the audience to become the ‘artist’ due to the immersive and interactive nature of the artwork, which was understood to be an example of postmodern practice. Interpretation, reasoning and judgement in these responses explicitly addressed the blurring of the boundaries between the agencies of the artworld. These responses analysed the quote to demonstrate how the artwork reflects the idea of opposites in a discussion of the sensory, psychological and intellectual qualities of the artwork.

Candidates should develop the depth and breadth of their knowledge and understanding of the interrelationships of the agencies of the artworld and they should apply this knowledge and understanding in a well-reasoned and interpretive way. They should reference the source material and selectively link it to the demands of the question, rather than presenting a descriptive account with unsupported interpretations.

Question 3

This question invited a speculative approach requiring a detailed investigation of the source material to derive inferences and make judgements regarding how messages are communicated. Most responses positioned their argument primarily in the structural frame. The subjective and cultural frames were also used, along with, to a lesser extent, the postmodern frame. Images were diversely interpreted as evidence of building narratives of nostalgia, memory, family, loss, happy times, a desire for the past, and the slippage of time. The torn and imperfectly reassembled images were a favoured reference, representing a severing of past from present and the difficulties of attempting to join what has been broken. Messages were discussed within personal, cultural, political, social and reconfigured contexts, with environmental, technology and gender considerations being popular.

In better responses, candidates presented insightful and substantiated arguments and evidenced an understanding of the structural frame as a tool of analysis. Their rich interpretations were well supported by referencing particular qualities of the plates and often by an understanding of the symbolic associations of photography as a form of communication. Possible meanings embedded in the artworks transcended subject matter and were gleaned from interpreting particular symbols and organisational relationships. Candidates discussed these in terms of audience readings and the artist’s intentions, establishing conclusions that were convincing culminations of judgements.

Teachers and candidates are advised that the structure of the response should be based on the demands of the question in conjunction with the rubric. Candidates are encouraged to practise applying their knowledge of the frames as an expanded field of investigation and not just to list aspects or features within the plates and citations.

Section II

Candidates should give careful consideration to the selection of the question in Section II that best allows case study information to be reinterpreted and adapted to meet the specific demands of the question. Care should also be taken in determining the particular aspect of syllabus content addressed by the question.


Question 4

Responses to this question demonstrated an understanding of the duality of artists’ practice, which is concerned with both emotional and rational states. The quote established a context for the discussion of practice from both positions; however, subjective and emotional states were the main focus in many responses. Emotional states were variously understood as responses to events in the world, situations and experiences in the artist’s personal life, and projections of the artist’s psychological state. Rational choices described decisions artists made concerning material practices and conceptual intent that deliberately affect the way audiences view and navigate the emotional terrain of the artwork. A diverse range of artists was referenced, including Henson, Mueck and Kentridge. Other multimedia artists, such as Oursler, Viola, Orlan and Stelarc, in combination with more traditional choices, such as Picasso, Pollock and Kahlo, were cited. Duchamp, when mentioned, was referred to as the ultimate rationalist.

In better responses, candidates articulated the interdependence of emotive and rational artmaking practices and discussed the significance of this in relation to artists’ intent and processes of production. More knowledgeable discussions were able to uncover the emotional context for selected artworks, rather than relying on identifying emotions through a description of subject matter. These responses were well supported by a selection of relevant artists and artworks where a thorough understanding of the nature of each artist’s practice was adapted to the demands of the question. Successful arguments were coherent and logical in the way rich and layered considerations of artists’ emotional states and rational choices were navigated.

Question 5

Responses to this question acknowledged that events impact on practice and, as a result, they have consequence and influence on subsequent art practices, audiences and events. Many interpretations focused on the impact that events have in shaping conceptual and material intent. Events were broadly interpreted as the personal and psychological, the global, sociopolitical issues, the feminist movement, and innovations in technology. In many responses, the advent of modernism was seen as a significant event instigating changes from traditional art practices and conventions. The choice of artists was diverse, ranging from historical reportage of events as exemplified by Goya and Delacroix, to the new media works of Viola, to the social critique of issues in a contemporary world by Piccinini, Morimura and Kruger. The reinterpretation of an event through appropriation was acknowledged as a valid way in which the practice of artists can evoke reaction in audiences, thus shaping views.

Better responses were characterised by a comprehensive synthesis of visual arts practices, particularly with regard to how the material and conceptual intentions of artists are ‘shaped’ by or ‘shape’ significant events. Knowledgeable discussions clearly articulated complex understandings of how events act as a catalyst not only to contextualise meaning and purpose within artworks, but also to influence opinion, art practice or critical debate. The impact of events was viewed as having multiple effects, generating insightful, layered interpretations of the question. Discussion of critical and historical discourses generated by causal events was less successfully negotiated.

In adapting case studies to examination questions, candidates should clearly identify the specific nature and multiple demands of a question and should ensure that examples selected support all areas of discussion.

Conceptual framework

Question 6

Responses to this question demonstrated an understanding of painting as attributing ideas and concepts beyond the representation of subject matter. The responses were varied and broad in their interpretation of a painting as an object constructed from techniques and ideologies about the nature of painting and the illusion of imagery. The artist’s intention, the role of the imagination, the capturing of aspects of cultural identity, responses to social and political events, and the documentation of contemporary and historical issues were explored in many responses to this question.

Better responses acknowledged that subject matter is the manifestation and demonstration of ideas that are given a visual identity through the employment of signs and symbols. These responses referenced historical and contemporary accounts, which were seamlessly interwoven in the discussion. Art movements such as expressionism and/or abstraction were investigated through a discussion of painting as a practice that goes beyond the subject matter.References to painters’ explorations of other media and use of appropriation were discussed, along with the impact of technology on the practice of painting. These responses were sustained through an exploration of the complexities of painting and were well supported by the selection of appropriate artists and artworks. Popular examples included Pollock, Mondrian, Van Gogh, Quilty, Picasso, Gittoes, Manet, Goya, Morimura and Duchamp.

Candidates should address all parts of the question and should use informed knowledge to support their argument.

Question 7

Many responses to this question explored the premise that audiences are challenged by the changing nature of art and the artists’ intentions, and therefore influence where artworks are exhibited.

The gallery was understood as a curated space that includes traditional galleries, museums, natural landscapes, urban spaces and streets, and the virtual world. The audience includes critics, artists, the art educated and the general public. Audiences were also divided into those who actively pursue artworks and venues and those who encounter artworks randomly. References were made to traditional galleries as spaces to display, keep and protect artworks, some precious and rare, and to educate the public about art. Artists who exhibit in these places enable audiences to experience the physicality of artworks.

Better responses argued that the roles of galleries in the contemporary world may not be as powerful as they once were by detailing how the function of galleries has changed and by describing the ways artists have challenged the authority of galleries. This has been done through the type of work displayed within or outside gallery walls and the ways in which the artist gains notoriety. Both historical and contemporary examples were used to support this notion of art in the public domain. The artists’ use of these spaces was expanded to give insightful interpretations of how they enhanced meaning and the audiences’ experience of the work. Audiences were seen to be integral to the work and allowed for new perspectives on viewing and accessing artworks and artists through the non-traditional means of artists’ websites, thus bypassing curators and gallery owners. More complex layers of meaning were added that recognised the nature of high art, as opposed to popular art. Audiences then became the arbiters of art.

Candidates should address all parts of the question and identify the demands within and they should ensure that examples of artists and artworks support the discussion.


Question 8

This question invited an exploration of the cultural frame as a critical tool to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the artists and their cultures. Many responses referenced material from a broad range of cultural contexts, drawing from historical and contemporary art movements and events that involved issues of transglobalism, feminism, street art and Australian Aboriginal art. Critical aspects of culture, such as social, political, sexual and gender, were also identified and productive relationships were investigated. The synthesis of critical and productive relationships outlined in the responses varied in terms of the account of the artists and their cultures. Often the critical relationship was examined as causal, while the productive relationship of the artworks was implied rather than elaborated upon.

Better responses recognised artworks as critical manifestations of the artists’ experiences. These responses demonstrated an astute observation of artists who act according to specific times and places. They provided a detailed exploration of the time and place, while also making complex and thoughtful observations as to how value judgements are influenced by culture. Many responses referenced critics and historians who articulate the relationship between the artist/artwork and the cultural context. They also examined how cultural issues provide artists with content and generate subject matter. The cyclical nature of culture as a source of critique and the subsequent influence on the production of artworks were identified and thoroughly discussed. These responses explored and explained why artists respond to sociopolitical issues and challenge the conventions particular to them.

Candidates should recognise the frames as a tool of analysis and should ensure that examples support the discussion.

Question 9

Responses to this question demonstrated substantial knowledge and understanding of postmodern practice and devices. While predominantly contemporary examples were used in discussions of postmodernism, a wide range of historical and modernist references was also employed.

The notion of challenge was investigated in discussions of the impact of new materials and technologies, conventions of art, the role of audiences, and challenges to the traditional role of the gallery and modes of display. Many responses agreed with Salerno’s quote, offering insightful discussions of the ways in which artworks challenge and break rules, contextualised by time and place. Some responses argued that postmodern artists were in fact continuing the rebelliousness exemplified by the modernists.

Better responses argued that postmodern art derives from the radical and turbulent shifts in culture and constitutes a phase in art developed with unique artistic practices and aesthetic understandings. Accounts affirmed the relationship between the artists and their conceptual intent. Complex accounts offered a counterargument that Salerno’s view is a flawed analysis of postmodern art. Sustained arguments articulated that art is used to engage, shock and promote debate with an audience. These discussions were multilayered, comprehensive and cited a broad range of relevant artists, artworks, critics and theorists, such as Holzer, Orlan, Piccinini, Morimura, Koons, Ai Weiwei, Gehry, Goldsworthy, Danto, Zizeck and Virilio. The question also elicited references to exhibitions (Sensation), prizes (Turner), groups (Young British Artists) and collectors (Saatchi) that were examined to support discussions of the ways artists’ intentions were realised and audiences were engaged and challenged.

Teachers and candidates are advised that ‘discuss’ requires candidates to identify issues and to engage in a debate with reference to the quote. Examples should address the conventions being broken and should be explicitly linked to the argument, informed by an understanding of the frames.

Body of work submissions

General comments

There was a diverse range of approaches to the body of work. The most popular expressive form is still painting, although there continues to be an interest in digital forms. Submissions in photomedia continued to increase. Many submissions across all expressive forms included documentation, such as photographs, digital images and photobooks, DVDs and time-based forms, to support the intentions of the work.

Responses to the body of work

There was 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 or drawing. It is important for teachers and candidates to note that this is an acceptable way for candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of practice. Other works revealed a knowledgeable awareness of contemporary interests in the artworld and an awareness of audiences and their role.

Candidates used the frames and the conceptual framework in ways that extended their ideas. A strong study of relevant artists and their practice, along with contemporary issues and ideas in the artworld, was evident. 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, including documentation of site-specific works, installations and performances.

Many candidates presented works that thoughtfully reflected on their own immediate world of personal and cultural identity; origins and connections; friends, families and relationships; and histories and traditions. 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. The public contexts for the production of the works in schools and the marking of the examination may make some forms of representation inappropriate. Advice to schools regarding content in HSC submitted works is provided on the Board of Studies website in the document HSC Performances and Submitted Works – Advice to Schools Regarding Content.

Teachers 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 of audiences within the school, as well as the broader examination context, and aware of the possible implications for candidates.

Selection of works for body of work submissions

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

When selecting works for submission, candidates should carefully consider how each work demonstrates 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.

Some works included an artist’s statement or other documentation in the form of diagrams, photographs, photobooks, working drawings or film/video pieces.

The inclusion of an artist’s statement should be carefully considered, and in most cases is unnecessary. If an artist’s statement is submitted, it should be brief and related to intentions rather than a summary of the artmaking processes used by the candidate to make the body of work. A well-considered title is often sufficient to provide insight into the intentions of the work. Titles should be in English or include a translation so that they are understood by the markers.

Assigning submissions to a particular expressive form

Candidates should place their work in one of the 12 expressive forms nominated in the syllabus.

They 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.

Subject rules

In 2011 a number of submissions were in breach of the limits for size, weight, duration, and dangerous and prohibited materials. Teachers and candidates are referred to the course prescriptions in Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 on the Board of Studies website. The subject rules on size, weight, duration, and dangerous and prohibited materials apply to works whether they are marked corporately or itinerantly. Submissions that did not meet the requirements of the course prescriptions for size, weight, duration, and dangerous and prohibited materials were not able to achieve the same marks as those submissions that worked within the course requirements.

A number of submissions included food products such as lollies, rice, beans, liquids, glass bottles and glass light bulbs, which are prohibited materials. Ammunition casings must not be included in any submission.

The size of a submission if it contains two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) works requires careful monitoring to ensure that it is not larger than one cubic metre when displayed for marking. A number of submissions in the collection of works expressive form exceeded the one cubic metre maximum size for 2D and 3D works. The volume of a submission with 2D and 3D works should be measured first, then other requirements should be checked. For 2D or flat works, the limit 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.

Instructions for display for marking

All bodies of work, including 2D and 3D submissions and submissions with 2D and 3D components, must comply with the size limitations when displayed for marking.

Candidates should include instructions for displaying their work in order to indicate their intentions more clearly. A picture, diagram or photograph indicating how the work is intended to be displayed may be useful. However, candidates need to be mindful of the limitations of the marking process and must 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 components, is calculated by including the negative space or spaces between each of the components 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.

Itinerant marking

Advice to schools regarding the set-up and display of works at itinerant marking is available from 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. Clerical staff and markers at corporate and itinerant marking spent considerable time checking the labelling and paperwork presented by schools. In 2011 many itinerantly marked schools did not clearly label each artwork within a submission, and did not check that all pieces in the submission were displayed for marking. On a number of occasions, the labels for candidates’ works were not completed correctly. It is important that teachers ensure that all the paperwork is correctly completed, and that the set-up of works during itinerant marking is checked.

Time-based forms

Teachers and candidates 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 computer 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 that can only be viewed online. All interactive works must be copied to a disc.

Expressive forms


Submissions in ceramics explored a range of approaches, including hand-built sculptural figurative forms, vessels, and series of multiple pots. Traditional and contemporary ceramic practices were referenced in both the conceptual intent and the material form. Concepts included fantasy realism creatures, animals, homage to cultural traditions of the vessel, the landscape, forces of nature, and postmodern interpretations of functional ware.

The range of construction techniques included combinations of slab-built and coil-built forms embellished with intricate surface textures, pinch pots, and hand-built figurative forms. Surface treatments included glazes, stains and under-glazes, slips, applied and rubbed-back oxides, oxide washes, acrylic paint, and the integration of materials, wood and other small objects into the clay. Surfaces were scraped, carved, incised and press moulded to create textures.

Submissions in the higher mark range demonstrated an informed understanding of construction processes and decoration techniques and an awareness of the potential of clay to represent a concept and engage an audience. Surface treatments and the choice and use of glazes and oxides revealed a knowledgeable restraint and conceptual strength. Firing methods, including sawdust firing, were selected to support concepts and material practice.

Candidates should include a diagram showing how the submission is to be displayed for marking purposes, in particular when a conceptual or formal relationship between the works in a submission is important to the interpretation of the work.

Collection of works

Submissions in this expressive form explored concepts through a broad range of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photomedia, time-based works and printmaking. Many submissions demonstrated an investigation of two or more expressive forms to represent subject matter, including the degradation of the environment, self and identity, portraiture, popular culture and the landscape. Books continued to be a popular inclusion to extend concepts and catalogue ideas and also provided a range of display options. DVD inclusions were most effective when they extended concepts instead of repeating imagery.

Better works reflected careful curatorial choices that integrated conceptual and material practice. These submissions considered the audience and demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the artworld to inform decisions. The representation of meanings, ideas and concepts revealed a knowledgeable approach to and engagement with material practice, and a consideration of how audiences interact with artworks. The selection of different expressive forms to represent various aspects of subject matter in the submissions was effective and well considered.

Many submissions did not comply with the course prescriptions for size, weight, duration and dangerous and prohibited materials. A number of submissions that included both 3D works (such as sculpture) and 2D works (such as drawings and photographs) exceeded the maximum size of one cubic metre when the works were displayed for marking. In other submissions, the instructions for display included by the candidate resulted in the work exceeding the maximum allowable size. Information about size, weight, duration and dangerous and prohibited materials in Assessment and Reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 should be considered and reviewed throughout the development of the body of work.

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 components. This includes any space(s) between flat works, and any space between a flat work and a 3D piece in a body of work.

Designed objects

Submissions in this expressive form included wearables, architectural designs and models, furnishings, product designs and costume designs. They represented concepts such as gender, recycling, fantasy narratives, nature and its elements, pollution, politics, consumerism, advertising, ethnicity and migration. A diverse range of materials, including fabrics that had been dyed and manipulated, handmade papers, paper bark, and manufactured and recycled materials such as plastics, netting, ceramic tiles, photographs and disassembled books, was used to represent ideas and interests. Materials were skilfully manipulated and innovatively transformed through processes such as machine and hand sewing, folding, gluing, collaging, weaving, printing, and the transferring of digital images to surfaces other than paper.

Works in the higher mark range reflected a sophisticated synthesis of material and conceptual practice, with materials and objects that were carefully selected to extend and reinforce ideas. Many of these submissions also referenced an awareness of historical and contemporary practices in the artworld.

Candidates should consider the photographic documentation of designed objects such as wearables. Photographs of wearables in a site-specific context can reinforce and extend concepts for an audience.

Documented forms

Submissions in this expressive form investigated the practice of using photomedia, sculptural objects, time-based forms and the inclusion of books, both to document processes and to extend concepts. Natural forms in the landscape, the recontextualisation of found objects, the impact of people on the landscape, and the degradation of the landscape through the disposal of plastics were areas of interest. Some submissions also investigated and represented performances and the construction of artworks in gallery contexts, with a focus on the nature and practice of installation and curatorial considerations. There was also an interest in the presentation and display of objects and the use of museum and scientific catalogue systems such as drawers, specimen containers and handmade slides and light boxes.

The better works represented ideas and interests that were specific and personal, and these were explored through layered interpretations rather than direct and obvious representations. Material practice was innovative and consistent, including a highly resolved and sophisticated understanding of photographic and audio-visual practice – particularly in engaging the audience and extending concepts. Submissions evidenced an understanding of contemporary art practice and consideration was given to the layout and presentation of submissions to support a narrative. The practice of contemporary artists was referenced rather than duplicated in the submissions.

Candidates should ensure that the set-up and display of works are not complex and that the course prescriptions for size, weight, duration and dangerous and prohibited materials are followed. In particular, if a DVD is submitted as part of a documented form submission, it should be no longer than three minutes in duration. It is not necessary to include the objects used as part of the documentation unless they extend the concepts represented in the work.


Submissions in this expressive form reflected a substantive engagement with the practice of drawing to represent issues, concerns and interests. Trends in subject matter included sci-fi, fantasy works in response to popular culture, representations of animals as thematic explorations of environmental and ecological concerns, and small-scale and large-scale portraits of friends, family and self. Many submissions reflected knowledge of contemporary trends in drawing, including the use of non-fine art materials such as biro and texta; coloured pencils and graphite, which were used confidently in depicting realism; and photographs or digitally published books of drawings, which were submitted as an extension to practice.

Works in the higher mark range demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the way material selections underpin and reinforce conceptual intent. The more successful works seamlessly integrated conceptual and material concerns to create complex and layered meanings. Skills and techniques were refined, indicating an in-depth knowledge of how materials can be manipulated and controlled. Representations were fully considered in terms of compositional devices, particularly choices relating to cropping and scale, and incorporated an extensive visual vocabulary demonstrating understanding of the way mark can act as symbol or code. A strong awareness of the audience was also reflected in considered curatorial decisions.

Candidates are advised that when practice is informed by photographic sources, consideration should be given to how a drawn image is resolved when the source images or photographs are not clearly defined and are lacking in detail. The use of framing devices and works behind Perspex should be carefully considered, as this can detract from the qualities of the submission.

Graphic design

Submissions in this expressive form included storybooks, posters, postcards, magazine covers, magazines, handmade and self-published books, illustrative narratives, graphic novels, product promotions such as T-shirts, and vinyl covers using a range of media and techniques. Hand-drawn images in pen and ink or coloured pencils, collage, painting, printing, stencilling, fine cut-paper work, computer-generated work, scanned images and photomedia were used to represent concepts. Works were inspired and supported by an understanding of contemporary media and the artworld. Concepts were diverse, including visual interpretations of witty and nostalgic expressions, literature and poetry, social and political concerns, adolescent journeys, friendships, animals, contemporary stories of heroic deeds, and magical realism and fantasy.

Submissions in the higher mark range demonstrated an informed understanding of the conventions of text and print and the exploration of word play and text as image to promote meaning and engage the audience with wit and humour. The works were skilful and the conceptual strengths reflected the investigation and exploration of an idea, the selection of imagery to represent layers of meaning, and interaction between the audience and the work. A curatorial intent was also apparent in these works and strengthened the resolution within each submission.

Candidates are advised that if a CD is to be included in a submission, the labelling should indicate if it is to be played or if it is included as a site for an applied design. If works are to be viewed in a certain order or sequence, candidates should include a diagram and numbering of the works.

The title of a work should be clear to assist with interpretation of the work. An understanding of the importance of file size and how it affects a printed image is an important factor in the submission of digitally generated works.


There was a strong interest in abstraction in this year’s submissions, including gestural abstraction and explorations of the atmospheric and evocative creation of surfaces through colour and texture. There was a continued interest in the use of applied surfaces in painting through texture, collage, the application of found objects, digital inclusions and the exploration of sculptural projection. A strong interest in the use of found and everyday materials such as corrugated cardboard and pegboard as surface was also evident. There was less evidence of interest in photographic realism than has been present in the past few years.

Figurative work continued to dominate the submissions and provided examples of a wide range of concerns and references, often through traditional subject matter. Portraiture was represented through explorations of historical traditions, through investigations of individual and group identity, and as a means of engaging with social justice and political issues. Similarly, landscape was represented through explorations of traditions of the genre, investigations of the qualities of particular places, and expressions of environmental concerns. An interest in animal subjects and references was seen in personal explorations of the connection between animals and humans, as well as in celebrations of animal beauty and in social investigations of the treatment of animals.

Submissions in the higher mark ranges were characterised by a depth of conceptual investigation and a refinement of material practice, which complemented each other. These works engaged the audience through their richness of imagery and references and their distinctive exploration of the possibilities of painting. There was evidence that both ideas and techniques of representation had been explored through a deep engagement in developing a painting practice.

Candidates should include clear display instructions for the set-up of their works.


Submissions in this expressive form included investigations of digital photography and traditional analogue practices exploring the genres of landscape, portraiture, still life and the human condition. Representations of movement and emotional states were popular concepts. The printed surface was considered in the presentation of images, with an investigation of how different materials contribute to the conceptual depth and meaning. Paper stocks such as plastic, metallic (silver and gold), fine art paper, and canvas were used in knowledgeable and sophisticated ways. Books were used as a major element or as the only element of many submissions, and DVDs were submitted to extend the conceptual intent of images and their genesis. Material practices reflected the use of digital SLR cameras and less digital manipulation in some works. Photoshop was used to make subtle enhancements and to integrate imagery within panoramas. The negative was also referenced with the use of screens, frames and borders.

The better works demonstrated well-considered and knowledgeable photographic practices and an understanding of contemporary artists and photographers. Submissions included well-crafted images supported by highly refined presentations and printing techniques and an informed use of aperture to control shutter speed and depth of field, as well as focus and exposure. References to contemporary practice included the merging of painting and graphic design traditions, performances, and highly staged vignettes that mimicked C41 processing. The aesthetic qualities of wet photography were integrated skilfully with digital images, including references to the negative. Colour images were prevalent, with a focus on high-key colour and contrast. Ambient light, emphasising the appeal of film noir and chiaroscuro influences, was also used and manipulated.


Submissions in printmaking explored a range of relief and intaglio processes. In particular, lino relief printing and drypoint etching were popular choices and there was an increase in submissions exploring reduction printing. Submissions acknowledged the conventions of printmaking and also considered ways of extending printmaking practice through the addition of hand-colouring, the use of shaped blocks, and the integration of collage. Subject matter included the city and suburbia, landscape and the environment, family and relationships, and an increase in the investigation of abstraction.

Submissions in the higher mark range synthesised material practice with conceptual intent and moved beyond illustrative representations of subject matter. Trends in contemporary artmaking practice were explored and there was consideration of the audience and its interaction with the works. Submissions demonstrated technical proficiency in small-scale and large-scale works, in the transformation and manipulation of subject matter, and in the appropriate selection and use of papers to accommodate different printmaking techniques.

Candidates are advised that the inclusion of multiple works within a series should extend rather than reiterate ideas. Editions of prints are not necessary and should not be submitted.


Submissions in this expressive form explored a diverse range of approaches to sculptural practice, including freestanding, wall-mounted, hanging, kinetic and relief works, as well as sculptural forms.

Popular techniques included construction, carving and casting, with materials being glued, modelled, moulded, woven and welded. Assemblages were common and included found and recycled objects, objects from the natural world, musical instruments, birdcages, cardboard, paper, cabinets for display, and deconstructed and reconstructed furniture. The innovative use of paper as a sculptural material, with careful filigree cutting, was popular, as were electrical and motorised works. Many works explored decorative surfaces and were embellished with colour, stencilling, text, collage and delicate patinas. Boxes were widely used as spatial grids or framing devices, while the inclusion of a base was successful in some submissions.

Figuration and abstraction were investigated in single works and in works with multiple pieces. Subject matter included notions of cultural and personal identity, the family and relationships, music and popular culture, animals, and environmental issues. Some submissions referenced history, the museum object, and forms of classification. There was an engagement with artworld debates and issues surrounding contemporary practice, including the traditional hierarchy of art and craft.

Submissions in the higher mark range demonstrated a deep knowledge of the traditions and innovations of sculptural practice. There was a synergy between subject matter, form and surface, which were successfully combined to create meaning. There was a strong acknowledgement of the audience and its engagement with the work.

Candidates should include a photograph or diagram of how the work should be displayed for marking in order to ensure that relationships between pieces in a submission are clearly represented.

Textiles and fibre

Submissions in this expressive form explored concepts and issues including the environment and landscape, journeys, nature and the seasons, gender roles, identity, and family heritage. A diverse range of materials was used, including printed and purchased fabrics; silk; handmade felt; found and natural objects; hand-dyed, printed and painted fabrics; plastics; metallic and commercial threads; wool; lace; and papers. Fabrics were hand and machine stitched, knitted, folded and fanned, appliquéd, quilted, beaded, layered and manipulated through traditional surface treatments such as stamping, relief printing and silk-screen printing, or through more contemporary practices such as the digital transfer of images. These material practices combined to inform strong narratives, which were often presented through the combination of text and image. Quilts continued to be a popular way to represent ideas and interests in this expressive form.

Submissions in the higher mark range demonstrated a confident understanding of traditional and contemporary practices in textiles and fibre to produce visually engaging surfaces. Works used and transformed the traditional techniques of knitting, crocheting and stitching to reference contemporary textile and postmodern art practices. Materials were used subtly and symbolically to replicate the effects of expressive forms such as drawing and painting. A knowledgeable understanding and consideration of the engagement of the audience was also evident.

Candidates are advised that each work within a series should elaborate on and extend meanings and concepts, rather than just reiterating or repeating meanings and concepts.

Time-based forms

Submissions in this expressive form represented a range of experimental approaches to traditional narratives in film and animation, with music videos and stop-motion animations being popular choices. Most submissions demonstrated a sound knowledge of genre, camera craft and production values in film and video. The image resolution and technical accomplishment of submissions reflected the range of options available to capture moving images. The use of nonlinear editing programs continued to improve and there were innovative approaches in both camera work and post-production techniques.

Better responses reflected a sophisticated understanding of cinematic conventions with excellent use of composition and continuity to represent ideas. The use of the scripted viewpoint and special effects, such as slow motion and the blending of images into a single scene, were evident in these sustained and engaging works. Sound contributed effectively to the dynamic and evocative features of the works and reinforced the pacing and rhythm in different scenes. Concepts registered on a number of levels and were supported by knowledgeable reference to contemporary artists and filmmakers.

Candidates should experiment with image resolution and the compression of files and with the engineering of soundtracks to ensure the quality of the submission. The course prescriptions state that the maximum duration for a submission in time-based forms, including credits, is six minutes. A number of submissions did not comply with this requirement.

Candidates should ensure that the software and the format for presenting works on DVD and CD-ROM can be used on standard computer hardware. Candidates are reminded that they are not permitted to submit works that can only be viewed online. All interactive works must be copied to a disc.

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