2023 Graduate Exhibition
Adelaide Central School of Art

The 2023 Graduate Exhibition presents the work of 39 students completing the Bachelor of Visual Art (Honours) and Bachelor of Visual Art degree programs at the Adelaide Central School of Art. This year’s cohort explore a wide range of subjects, from personal struggles with identity to broader issues such as our relationship to the natural environment and the impact of our consumer society.

Jorji Gardener, Tree Maps for Birds, rice paper, botanical inks, pencil, ochre, 180 x 70cm. Photo: James Field

“This year there is a strong focus on place, experience and history, as well as multiple expressions of art as sense-making: an affective, sensual and dynamic process of exploring one’s place in the world,” says ACSA CEO Penny Griggs.

“Play also emerges as a theme across several practices, as a way to provoke unexpected outcomes and build absurd narratives.”

While some students are led by materiality and are repurposing found materials, others are more focused on visceral mark-making or driven by process. The artists have created work using various media including, painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, video, performance, textiles and photography.

The presentation by this year’s graduates is of a particularly high standard, making it difficult to suggest clear standouts. However, there are some exceptional bodies of work worth mentioning.

Jorji Gardener’s immersive presentation, Tree Maps for Birds, is immediately intriguing. Using botanical inks, the artist has created a series of prints on paper suspended from the ceiling, while bird guides (perforated pieces of paper discarded from the Ornithology Department at the South Australian Museum) line the walls. Gardener has combined these works with a soundscape of bird song and created an all-encompassing environment where the audience is invited to reflect on nature and, in particular, birds and their habitats.

Evy Moschakis, Clipposaurus, PVC, faux fur, wadding, thread, 220 x 40 x 8cm. Photo: James Field

Multi-disciplinary artist Evy Moschakis presents a range of clever and humorous artworks that use play as both a method and subject matter. Familiar objects from domestic and work life are reimagined with properties and aesthetics from toys and games.

Through sculptures such as Clipsauras, a giant felt paper clip, and video presentations inspired by everyday tasks such as shopping, Moschakis creates works that are fun and playful but at the same time focus on the more mundane and serious responsibilities of adulthood.

Brenton Drechsler, Notting Hill 5, oil on canvas, 1010 x 76cm. Photo: James Field

Following the trend of the 2022 graduates, several artists from the 2023 group have chosen painting as their preferred medium, and again it is a strong offering. Brenton Drechsler, whose body of work for his undergraduate degree last year was a highlight, has again impressed. His paintings reflect his personal experiences as a queer person, as he searches for a sense of belonging.

The act of painting has helped Drechsler find his bearings and give him grounding. His recurring motif of green and white stripes has become Drescher’s alter ego. By inserting the motif and thus himself into the landscape, he creates a sense of familiarity within a foreign environment.

Other highlights in the medium of painting include Christine Syme’s abstract impressions which imbue memories, sensations and feelings, and Shalini Sharma’s depictions of everyday objects. Sharma brings to light often overlooked domestic items such as shopping bags, garden tools and bathroom products which have become part of the fabric of her habitat and as a result hold memories, events, experiences and family life.

Another work of particular note is Lily Trnovsky’s ceramic installation, Reach Out Dead Hands to Comfort Me. The artist combines her contemporary practice with notions derived from Romanticism which focus on the dilemma of love and loss. As Alfred Tennyson said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Trnovsky’s ceramic vessels are chained and padlocked to each other to reflect the tense relationship between love and death.

Lily Trnovsky, (left and right) I Loved the Weight I Had to Bear, ceramic, padlocks, dimensions variable; (centre) I Take the Pressure of Thine Hand, ceramic, padlocks. Photo: James Field

Several artists explore our relationship to the natural environment and in particular the problem of waste and the effect of single-use plastics. Using second-hand plastic food containers and single-use bottles and bin bags coupled with epiphytic plants, Tahlia Hieatt’s installation work comments on how our environment has become riddled with plastic and if we don’t do something about it, it will eventually become part of our ecosystem.

On a similar tangent, Yana Lehey’s impressive creatures ­– Essie, Elizabeth and Larry ­– have been crocheted from bicycle inner tubes.

Yana Lehey, Elizabeth, bicycle inner tubes and valves, dimensions variable. Photo: James Field

These are just a few of the fascinating works on display at the 2023 Graduate Exhibition. It is the largest group of graduating students to date, providing many impressive works in many different styles for audiences to explore.

“I hope that we have prepared our students well to have a meaningful life with art, whatever that might look like,” says Griggs.

The 2023 Graduate Exhibition award winners will be announced when the show has its official opening on Saturday, December 16. The exhibition is at the Adelaide Central School of Art until December 22 and will reopen from January 2-5.

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