Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

True colours shine through at Wesley art show

Students exhibiting in the Wesley College 2018 Annual Acquisitive Art Prize gained real-world experience of the arts industry, and applied their skills in problem solving, critical evaluation and collaboration.

The 2018 Annual Acquisitive Art Prize winner was Dorothea Yannoulidis, a Year 12 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme student in 2017 from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘House on the Corner’. 

Authentic learning

The Wesley College Annual Acquisitive Art Prize recognises the talent and hard work of students, but is in itself a form of authentic learning that exposes them to real arts industry practices, and broadens their horizons, with previous participants going on to success in fields as diverse as magazine illustration and street art. 

Presented by Wesley College Society for the, the Annual Acquisitive Art Prize and exhibition recognises the exceptional talent of students from Years 10 to 12, with works exhibited in a wide range of media including painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fibre art and mixed media.

According to 2018 judge, Kate Rohde, contemporary artist and designer, the quality and diversity of the students’ work was exceptional.

 ‘It was extremely hard to choose just a handful of works for awards, but ultimately I felt drawn to several pieces, in particular the winning piece by Dorothea Yannoulidis, which had immediate impact,’ Ms Rohde said. ‘I really went with what spoke to me.’ 

Ms Rohde, who studied Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) after Year 12, noted that resilience and perseverance, and not a little luck, are part and parcel of life in the art world. ‘I was exceptionally lucky that my first public exhibition was Top Arts – or Top Cats as it was known way back when I finished high school – at the NGV. I think it was very encouraging to be in such a huge exhibition at a very early stage of my art career,’ Ms Rohde said. 

‘It wasn’t always smooth sailing, though, as my work was not so well received at the VCA, particularly for the first year or so, and it really taught me to be resilient and persevere with developing my ideas and aesthetic. There are probably always going to be more rejections than successes in the long run, so you really learn not to sweat over things, look for the next opportunity, and make your own path through the art world.’ 

Events like the Annual Acquisitive Art Prize provide many benefits to all students involved, Ms Rohde noted. ‘An experience like this is good for students of art,’ she said. ‘Exposing their ideas to a public audience can be quite nerve wracking, but it helps students to develop as artists, and learn how to handle feedback and talk about their work outside the immediate peer group and teachers. 

‘The element of public display also means they must consider very practical things like, “How does my artwork attach to the wall?” or “Can it stand up on its own?” Those little details are all part of a professional exhibition: it’s the unglamorous stuff like getting the forms filled out and delivering the work on time that are really important.’ 

Head of the Faculty of the Arts and curator of the Annual Acquisitive Art Prize Amelia Judd said students gain authentic learning from the experience. ‘Wesley’s Annual Acquisitive Art Prize gives students timely motivation and a nudge as they work towards their goal,’ Ms Judd said. ‘The pressure of a broader audience and judging by an artist with the reputation of Kate Rohde gives them an incentive to achieve their best. I always find the Prize is when the Year 12 students really start to focus and apply themselves. The work of the graduate students from the previous year also sets a benchmark for the current Year 12s to aim for. 

‘That’s really useful, because some students can still be grappling to find their direction. My advice is to keep exploring and experimenting, “do” and try without fear of failure as being stagnant gets you nowhere. It’s also vital for students to go to exhibitions; we also expose our senior students to guest artists talks and workshops. 

The work of artistic creation and the technical disciplines of making transfer to other aspects of students’ lives at Wesley, Ms Judd said. ‘The artist’s experience, and the challenges of materials and techniques teach students how to problem solve, critically evaluate and refine ideas, all keys skills that are transferable to other subjects and to their future endeavours in studies and various career paths,’ she said. ‘As each student evolves their own unique folios they also work collaboratively with staff and peers to develop theory skills and they often use peer feedback to inform their practice.’ 

Ms Judd noted that, while the Creative Arts are not just about art, the experience of making and exhibiting artworks has been fruitful for Wesley students. ‘Illustrator Ilya Milstein (OW2008), who twice won the Annual Acquisitive Art Prize, is doing very well – being commissioned to illustrate a New York Times article on 1980s New York. Ash Keating’s (OW1998) work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Australia. Callum Croker (OW2014) won the emerging artist category in the Melbourne Art Trams program in 2014. Many of our students go on to study Fine Arts at the VCA, Design and Architecture at the University of Melbourne or Industrial Design or Fine Arts at Monash University.’ 

2018 Annual Acquisitive Art Prize winners

Annual Acquisitive Art Prize – Dorothea Yannoulidis, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘House on the Corner’. 

Encouragement Awards – Georgia Rose, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Port Willunga’, and Remy Marshall, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Chaos 1’. 

People’s Choice – Lucy Eidelson, a Year 12 VCE student from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Chimera’. 

Packer’s Prize –Storm Bell, a Year 12 VCE student from the Glen Waverley campus, for his work, ‘26.03.18, 27.03.18, 28.03.18, 29.03.18, 30.03.18’. 

Commendations– Patrick Hayes, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for his work, ‘Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”’; Anika Korren, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Dog Searching’; Melissa Mills, a Year 12 IB DP student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Brothers’; Coen Wright, a Year 10 student from Glen Waverley campus, for his work, ‘Hosier Lane’; and Francesca Watts, a Year 10 student (2017) from the St Kilda Road campus, for her work, ‘Armoured’. 

Artworks in the Wesley College 2018 Annual Acquisitive Art Prize exhibition are on display from 16 to 18 May in the exhibition space of the St Kilda Road Visual Arts and Design Precinct, 557 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

Read more about the Visual Arts at Wesley College.