It's Just So Fresh

Review by Andrew Leeson, Northern Beaches Christian School. Photography by Andrew Leeson.


In the art world a constant search for the fresh, new and exciting keeps the critics and professionals busy, but for me the search is over. The Degree Show currently hosted at SCA presents an undeniably scary arsenal of new talent. On visiting the extensive display of works it is impossible to ignore the importance of these graduating students and their work.

The aesthetically astounding works of Muzi Li will catch your eye instantly on entering the main gallery at SCA, and on closer inspection a deep and meticulously deliberated practise reveals itself. The mass of tiny paper cranes defies possibility as you struggle to even see the miniscule fold lines. Every crane is constructed from tobacco paper and the addictive and methodical practise parallels exactly the act of smoking; creating an ironic moralistic paradox in the work. One of hope, the crane, and one of mortality, the tobacco paper. On speaking with Muzi Li about her work and its display she emphasized the importance of using a hanging display for the photographs, to suggest the mercurial characteristic of smoking which counteracts the solidity of photography.


As you move through the exhibition a sense of constant discovery and astonishment strikes you. Just around the corner from Muzi’s work is the series of photographs entitled Portrait in Absentia by Tasman Miller. As suggested in the title, it is a series of powerful and striking pictures that capture the eerie isolation of its subject matters. The subjects are diverse and range from a foggy suburb to an unnaturally still room with the promise of light flowing into its decaying depths. The works invoke the deadly silence of a deserted urban area and the viewer can’t help but be sucked into its world. The photographs show great technical knowledge and skill, which was further impressed upon me when Tasman enthusiastically explained his choice of medium. To completely capture the ‘otherworldliness’ of the environments he chose to use a camera that would allow high - resolution reproductions of the images.

The sheer amount of talent on display in the Degree Show will astound and amaze you. Another very talented artist that you will find as you walk through the second floor of the painting studio is Emily Robertson. Her works instantly connect with the viewer. She uses movie posters as a painting surface, playing on the familiarity of cliché objects. The dull and meaningless context of the original poster is lost, as the posters have been appropriated expertly into an art context. Through using spray paint on the posters she plays with the preconceived idea that spray paint is related to vandalism and destruction. The work achieves an urban street edge, whilst presenting beautifully expressive and well-placed colour fields over the posters. On asking Robertson about her works she modestly stated that the original concept came from her lack of money to buy canvases. However, further conversation revealed that Robertson also focused on the negative nature of the posters’ original context and tried to create a brighter and by far, a greater meaning.


My final impression of the Degree Show and the only statement that can be uttered about what is clearly a hub of fresh creativity is “Awesome”.

Images: (top to bottom) Emily Robertson, Untitled; Muzi Li, Smoking; and Tasman Miller, Portrait in Absentia.