School students’ creativity impresses Art Prize judges

Published 04 June 2010

letshangitThe seventh annual “Let’s Hang It!” art exhibition will open in Armidale next Friday (11 June), featuring 60 works selected from about 500 entries in the 2010 University of New England Schools Acquisitive Art Prize (UNESAP) competition.

UNE’s Dr Frances Alter, the founder and director of the competition, said that the quality of this year’s entries was “better than ever”. “There’s a lot more experimentation in a wider range of media – for example, drawings on metal,” Dr Alter said. “There are more works in two-dimensional digital media, but there’s also a return to traditional drawing skills; there are many abstract works, but there’s also an increase in the number of young children painting places and animals from observation.”

She said that the high level of experimentation in this year’s entries indicated that teachers were becoming more confident about challenging students to go beyond the usual “formulas”.

The “Let’s Hang It!” exhibition will be officially opened at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) at 6 pm on Friday 11 June. NERAM’s Curator, Philippa Charley-Briggs, and Education Officer, Christine Durham, joined Dr Alter and five other staff members of UNE’s School of Education on the selection panel for the exhibition.

Ms Durham said it was “really refreshing” to have an exhibition of children’s art at NERAM. “It’s a great thing for bringing a whole new audience – including young people – to the museum,” she said.

The guest judge this year is the artist Jonathon Larsen.

The UNESAP competition (and associated “Let’s Hang It!” exhibition) is supported by UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, NERAM, and the art supply company S&S Creativity Unlimited. It was established in 2004 to encourage the teaching of – and participation in – visual arts creativity in schools in regional NSW. “It provides a showcase for high-quality work,” Dr Alter said – “something that teachers have been looking for. And as a showcase for school students’ art work, ‘Let’s Hang It!’ is unique in its inclusiveness.”

Entries in the competition have come from 35 schools in 17 towns and cities throughout northern NSW. They will be judged in four categories: Infants, Primary, Junior Secondary (Years 7-9), and Senior Secondary (Years 10-12). During next Friday’s opening event, prizes of cash and art materials will be presented to the winner and runner-up in each category, “Certificates of Distinction” will be presented to all the finalists in the competition (i.e., those whose entries were selected for hanging in the exhibition), and guests at the event will vote for the winner of a “People’s Choice Award”. The Acting Director of NERAM, Dr Leigh Kelly, will present a “Director’s Choice Award” – a new addition to UNESAP awards this year.

The prize-winning artworks become part of UNE’s permanent collection, and are mounted on a professional gallery hanging system throughout the second and third floors of the University’s Education Building.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows (from left) Philippa Charley-Briggs, Christine Durham and Frances Alter during the selection of works for the exhibition.