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Emerging young artists celebrated in 25th anniversary of Top Arts Exhibition

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Top Arts is an annual showcase of Victoria’s most exciting emerging young artists who have excelled in VCE Art and Studio Arts. Opening 22 March at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Top Arts 2019 presents the brightest bourgeoning thinkers from across the state with 49 works drawn from over 2,000 submissions.

Illuminating the pressing concerns affecting young Australians and the world at large, Top Arts 2019 artists explore a broad range of contemporary issues from familial grief transferred across generations, to the acceleration of climate change and the effect of consumerism on modern society. The exhibition showcases a breadth of mediums including painting, sculpture, installation, fashion and video art, highlighting the ingenuity and diversity of young Victorian creatives.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said, ‘Now in its 25th year, Top Arts continues to serve as an annual testament to the extraordinary budding talent across the state and the NGV is proud to offer a forum where young people can creatively express themselves through art. The Gallery is committed to fostering arts education in Victorian schools as well as here at the NGV. Over 100,000 visitors have accessed our year-round learning programming in the last year, highlighting what a valuable resource the Gallery is for young minds.’

Highlights include Aretha Brown’s Time is on our side, you Mob, 2018, a self-portrait exploring the impact of intergenerational trauma of the Stolen Generation on her life as a young Indigenous woman. Also touching on familial themes, Marcus Begutter’s Wizened, 2018, examines how a person’s mental state can change over time with portraits of his grandparents, one a war camp survivor and the other dealing with dementia. Drawing on cardboard with charcoal, both impermanent materials, Begutter uses this medium to imitate the fragility of life.

Movement is translated into a tangible artwork in Storm Bell’s Interaction Drawing IV, 2018, which has been created using his drawing machine made from a 44-gallon drum, paper and pens. The device responds to human interaction – powerful pushes, sweeping turns and abrupt stops – with ink marks on paper to create a visual interpretation of the motions made by the participant in a playful study of fate and coincidence.

Kristy Fedoro’s digital print, Little Racoon, 2018, is a tongue-in-cheek portrait of a young man with bright pink hair topped with a set of racoon ears. Incorporating bright colours and quirky features reminiscent of the artist’s childhood, such as a rubber ducky earring, the work serves as a homage to nostalgia and childlike wonder.

Wearable art features strongly in this year’s selection with highlights including Nicholas Gilbert’s STORM, 2018, a sculptural outfit of intertwining tubes mimicking a tornado, influenced by humanity’s hand in accelerating climate change; Felt (past tense of ‘Feel’), 2018, by Isabel Unwin, a bright ensemble embellished with knitted cords, created as a tactile expression for the abstract nature of mental health; and Rebecca Willington’s jacket, Checklist, 2018, which juxtaposes neon pink squares with clear cut-outs, investigating how clothing can act as a protective social armour.

Top Arts 2019 is FREE and on display from 22 March 2019 – 14 July 2019 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square. Additional information is available from the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE


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