Nineteen-year-old Emma Hearnes has exhibited in group exhibitions such as Offensive Art? at Brunswick Street Gallery and Refresh Art Prize at Federation University, Churchill and was the winner of the East Gippsland Art Gallery’s Small Artwork Prize, Wrap in 2017.
As she begins her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Emma kindly shares what she’s learnt through her experiences with the East Gippsland Art Gallery and her vision for supporting our artistic youth.
I am passionate about creating art that communicates authenticity and adequately reflects the imperfection of reality. This was the focus of the work exhibited in my first solo exhibition, Actuality, at the Maffra Exhibition Space last year. In this body of work, I aimed to move away from the photographic detail people associate with ‘realism’ and instead portray what I perceive to be real — fragments of inconsequential moments in life, captured and depicted not as they appear, but as they are.
This concept continues to be an important aspect of my artistic pursuits and encourages me to question the portrayals of the supposed ‘reality’ we see in mainstream media and in the art world. I look forward to developing this concept as I commence my studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.
I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing mentors in my art career so far, not only throughout secondary school via my art teachers, Frank Mesaric and Nadine Lineham, but also more recently with Crystal Stubbs and Sonia Grieve at the East Gippsland Art Gallery.
These wonderful women have not only been available as sources of insight and advice in relation to my art, but have also allowed me to volunteer when hanging exhibitions (an opportunity I would highly recommend to young local artists). Through this, I have gained valuable knowledge about the intricacies that go into making an exhibition look amazing. I have learnt about the practical elements of displaying works, becoming familiar with the tools and methods involved, as well as witnessing the creativity involved in the design of an exhibition.
The superb team at the East Gippsland Art Gallery are so proactive in creating opportunities for young artists in the area through initiatives such as the ‘stART’ workshops, where 12–25-year-olds have the opportunity to gain insight, advice and inspiration from experienced creatives and members of the community.
Other valuable opportunities in the Gippsland region include the Wellington Youth Art Prize (enter here) and the newly established East Gippsland Youth Art Prize. However, there is always room for more focus on creating bright futures for the young artists of Gippsland. Both mentorship and exhibiting experience are essential for the growth of young artists.
As a community, we should always be aiming towards more opportunities for youth, including youth-focussed exhibitions and prizes, dedicated spaces for youth to exhibit their work and creative workshops aimed at or open to youth. Additional funding would allow the community to provide these opportunities. The creative youth of this region have a unique and valuable perspective which should be celebrated and fostered.