Week 20/2024: Artrage

Week of 13 May 2024

ArtRage 2023

On Thursday I went to the ArtRage exhibition at the Salamanca Arts Centre.

A poster with the words 2023 ArtRage and a description of the exhibition. There are coloured blocks at the bottom of the poster
ArtRage 2023

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) in Launceston curates this annual exhibition, which showcases art from the previous year’s students from years 11 and 12 across Tasmania. This year’s works are by students who studied Visual Art or Art Studio Practice as part of their Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE) in 2023.

QVMAG says, “The students’ work explores themes that have inspired them throughout the year and are an invitation to reflect on how it feels to be a young person living in the world today.”

There was a huge range of subjects and styles in the exhibition.

Government issued paranoia

For me, the highlight was the project that was awarded the examiners’ choice in the TCE subject Art Studio Practice. This was a body of work called ‘Government Issued Paranoia’ by Charlee Saunders of Don College.

A series of five large black and white pen drawings are mounted on a white wall above a black banner bearing the words GOVERNMENT ISSUED PARANOIA
Government Issued Paranoia

The five major pieces of Charlee’s work were large black and white (with splashed of red) pen drawings on topics such as “Who Gets to Play God” and “The Illusion of Choice”.

detail of a drawing titled "The Illusion of Choice" containing text about choosing who to vote for There are feathers and clouds in the image
Detail of The Illusion of Choice by Charlee Saunders

The exhibition also showcased Charlee’s journals and records of her investigations as she explored her theme, looked to other artists for inspiration, and developed the project from idea to completed work.

A double page spread from an art journal made with black pen on white paper exploring the concept of 'Government issued paranoia'
A page from Charlee’s journal showing the concept

Charlee says her work is “a project of the anger and fear that radiates from the world around me; issues I see in our day-to-day lives, so blatantly on the television and yet, it feels as if no one pays further attention to them”. It’s aimed at encouraging people to think independently and to “rise above decades of indoctrination to this painful capitalist ideology”.

Charlee observed that when people say things like this, they get labelled “crazy” or “conspiracy theorists”. But if she puts it into an artwork, people love it and commend her.

It’s a curious phenomenon and it made me wonder why this is. Why can we draw it but not say or write about it?

I loved this work; it spoke deeply to me. The style Charlee chose of being very rough and raw suited her theme perfectly.

A wall of text and images underneath the heading VSO
Part of Charlee’s visual schematic overview required for assessment

It made me want to go back to college and take this subject. To have had the opportunity to explore the similar themes that fill my head in an art project like this at school would have been wonderful! What a shame I have no art background. And I am also too old to go back to college . . .

Some other fabulous work

There were many other fabulous pieces in the exhibition that caught my eye.

‘Perfection’ by Hobart College’s Lily Chatterton challenges the social ideals and high standards against which women’s bodies are compared. Lily presents the ‘inherent beauty of the diverse female form’.

Three female torsos in clay and iron oxide which look like slightly rusted metal
Lily Chatterton – Perfection

A triptych of paintings titled ‘Waddamana’ by Tegan Bateman of Don College illustrate the abandoned Hydro village of Waddamana.

Three paintings: an old house, power lines, and an empty sitting room with a chair in front of a fire place
Tegan Mateman: Waddamana

And I loved Mischa Linden’s piece ‘After we leave’, which reflects on how humans use the land and then, having taken what we want, leave it desolate and barren.

A very thin horizontal art work of brown tones reflecting a used and discarded piece of the earth
Mischa Linden: After we leave

My reflections on ArtRage 2023

Seeing the exhibition was a fascinating way to spend my lunch break (and made me wish I’d been more interested in art in high school). There’s a lot of social conscience among these young artists and I hope they continue to share their passion and their hopes and fears.

These are important messages.

And people like me owe it to Charlee, and the thousands of other young people who have the same fears, to listen and to act. To think for ourselves and to think critically about what we’re presented with. What we choose to consume. To not get sucked into scrolling and the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” shouting matches on social media. To not get distracted by silly games politicians play to avoid accountability. We need to recognise when (social) media is manufacturing outrage and think about what’s really going on.

We can’t keep pretending that everything’s okay and nothing bad will happen, because it’s not okay and lots of bad things are happening. And we need more people who aren’t afraid to put this out there.

Summary of the week

What was the best thing about this week?

The ArtRage 2023 exhibition was fabulous.

Also getting my Supreme Court book after last week’s archives tour.

The cover of a book called From Convicts to Computers, Two Hundred Years of the The Supreme Court of Tasmania by Justice Stephen Estcourt. There is a on old picture of two old two-storey sandstone buildings on the cover
From Convicts to Computers. The Supreme Court History

What did I learn this week?

I saw a post on instagram from @brenna_quinlan about why simple changes are really profound.

Brenna says often when people say, ‘just plant one thing’, part of you thinks ‘but one bit of lettuce isn’t going to save the world’.

She says, of course one bit of lettuce isn’t going to save the world. But, what they mean is

Planting something is the first step towards growing lots of things. It’s the first step towards appreciating the seasons, to discovering the magical world of nematodes and humus that lies beneath our feet, to spending more time outdoors and less time in line at the supermarket.

[Planting something is] the first step towards seed saving and having a deep appreciation for local food sovereignty. It’s a step towards taking our needs into our own hands and removing our vote from the industrial food system. It’s the first step towards learning how to cook with whole foods, how to forage wild fruit and eat local weeds. It’s a step towards the deep satisfaction we feel from embracing growing food as a new and important skill.

Planting one thing leads to all this and more.

In other words, From Little Things, Big Things Grow.

What am I reading this week?

  • Undertow by Kim Bambrook
  • The Menopause Brain by Lisa Mosconi
  • All The Birds of the Air by Demelza

Habit tracker

  • Walk 8,000 steps: 7/7
  • Shut down at 9.30: 2/6
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