Hunter student Aidan Gageler shines in ARTEXPRESS

AIDAN Gageler enjoys few things more than jumping into the car with his camera and hitting the road.

The former Macquarie College student, 18, travelled more than 1000 kilometres across the state last year to capture the nine photos he submitted for his Higher School Certificate major work for Visual Arts.

“I shoot every day,” he said. “Photography is an escape from life, from the stress of the HSC and everything that went along with that. It’s a way to keep myself sane and enjoy my own company.”

Aidan’s tenacity has been rewarded with selection into ARTEXPRESS, a series of exhibitions showing in galleries across the state of exemplary student HSC artworks.

His work is in an exhibition opening on Monday at Newington Armory in Sydney Olympic Park.

“It’s very humbling and it’s great because in my body of work I’ve tried to address a big issue or theme and to know that message is being shown to a wide audience – I feel like I’m taking a step in the right direction.”

Aidan’s photographs aim to combat the negative connotations of isolation and show solitude can be good for human development and emotional stability.

He traces inspiration for the project back to his 16th birthday, when he convinced his parents to allow him to host a large party, thinking that popularity would equal greater happiness.

“I thought it was going to be my break-through moment,” he said. “It didn’t take me long to realise no-one was really there for me.”

Aidan said choosing to “hide myself away” for a week or so to process what had happened was “the best decision I ever made”.

“It was not until then that I realised how empowering solitude is to an individual,” he said. “I’m not saying don’t have friends, but you’ve got to be comfortable with yourself and enjoy your own company.

“The idea that if you’re not constantly talking to someone you’re a lonely person, or if you don’t have a partner you’re not doing life right, all these social constructs put a lot of pressure on kids.

“I found by being alone and doing something I really enjoy I was able to challenge myself and find out about myself. It was uplifting.”

Aidan had always been interested in art and received his first camera at the age of 10, the night before his family left on a cruise to the Pacific Islands. He had filled the SD card before he fell asleep.

Aidan received offers from the University of Newcastle and University of Western Sydney to study Creative Industries this year, but has deferred to try and crack into the world of professional photography.

“It is definitely something I want to pursue and I wanted to get my own feel for it and develop my own style before I go to university.”