HANNAH Buttsworth didn’t intend to study Visual Arts for her Higher School Certificate.
But fast forward two years and her series of five digital illustrations is one of the 56 student works hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW after being selected for the annual ARTEXPRESS exhibition.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet, it hasn’t sunk in properly,” Hannah, 17, said.
“I feel shocked, a bit of pride but it’s also weird. It was surreal to see it hanging there, it looked out of place because I’d seen it so much and I was used to looking so closely at them.”
Hannah used a computer program to draw five female figures for her work.
“I wanted to speak about the progression of realising your identity in non-accepting environments,” she said.
“I wanted to focus on LGBTQI students as I know quite a few people who have had negative experiences growing up and coming out and being comfortable with their identity and how it’s expressed.
“I wanted to show each of my artworks as a different stage, from denial and trying to hide from yourself and others through to anger, acceptance and empowerment.”
Hannah is part of Toronto High’s accelerated program, which allows gifted year 10 students to start studying one HSC subject over two years.
“I was not planning on choosing art, I was hoping they would give us biology or chemistry as an option but it was pretty much art, engineering studies or physical education,” she said.
She was already studying art as a year 10 subject at the time.
“I had one period after the other and would switch between the assignments,” she said.
“At the time I got a bit sick of it, but it was so different to maths and science that it was a good break from the rest of school.”
Hannah spent about two hours each day for one term working on her illustrations, then dropped to about five hours a week. But this ramped back up to about five hours a day in the last three months of the project. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist,” she said.
“I’d be thinking I was finished, show my teacher and she would point out things that I’d missed – I couldn’t leave it, I had to go back and fix it.
“There were a whole lot of tiny little changes throughout the process but it was worth it in the end.”
Hannah will study four other HSC subjects this year.
Kimberley Delaney from Rutherford High, Deni Motum from Warners Bay High and Max Suciu Gleeson from Merewether High also have their works hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW. A
nother 10 Hunter students will have their work hung in ARTEXPRESS exhibitions at eight other NSW galleries.
Deni, 18, said being selected was “something I never really thought would ever happen”.
She used oil sticks, charcoal and paper on a 3.8 by 2.8 metre canvas to paint an abstract reflection on the female form.
Max, 18, said it was a “dream” to have his three ballpoint pen drawings of aged beef, a rack of lamb cutlets and a meat hook chosen.
“I always wanted to do something a bit gory and confronting,” he said.
“Things can be dead or decaying... but there’s still an inherent beauty in everything natural, you just have to look for it.”