Top Art Exhibition - Photography

Welcome to NZQA Top Art

Show:  Topart Homepage  |  Visual Arts Homepage

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Meg Rutherford, St Hilda's Collegiate

My plans for 2015:

Studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology and a Bachelor of Laws, at the University of Otago.

Information about my work:

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

Initial ideas for my portfolio were split into two. Visually, I was interested in using a strong contrasting colour scheme, with which I experimented in early stages of shooting and, conceptually speaking, the idea of breaking traditional boundaries of still life interested me. Eventually a mixture of both visual and conceptual ideas resulted in a contemporary spin on still life, with reference to classical painters and photographers.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I experimented with, and used a mixture of different techniques throughout the duration of shooting, some included depth of field, studio lighting, panoramic shots and a substantial amount of Photoshop. By using a mixture of different media (e.g. paint, spray-paint), both in the photographs and physically on my board, I was able to add to the conceptual elements and ideas behind the photographs.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Joshua Ropate Kurene, Hagley Community College

My plans for 2015:

Throughout 2015 I plan to continue developing my craft in Photography and exploring other art forms. I will be working part time kick-starting a small local Design/Photography business in order to save up and devote a couple of years to serving abroad on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, before returning back home to study.

Information about my work: 'The Fall of Tradition'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

This series of work was designed to showcase a wide range of ideas and subthemes correlating with the primary concept of Cultural Assimilation and Adaptation. Initially my intent was to document the effects of these cultural/social practices and processes by staging a visual cultural etiquette series (on a global scale) touching on marginalised groups across the globe, shedding light on their continually evolving culture.

I soon realised that I may have bitten off more than I could chew and decided to narrow my range in terms of cultural representation, settling on how various forms of Cultural Assimilation affect traditions and customs within Indigenous Polynesia.

It was important for me to address as many vital elements as possible when it came to showcasing the effects of Cultural Assimilation and Adaptation (ie. Education, Religion, Technology, Food & Agriculture, Architecture and Clothing) as I felt the images needed to reiterate the idea of how Cultural Assimilation and Adaptation impact all areas of indigenous society. Due to our current state of global transitioning, Cultural Assimilation and Adaptation is growing evidently everywhere.

Thankfully these elements all proved much easier to identify on a much smaller scale of cultural representation. The fact that I identified with each of the ethnic groups represented within the series, was also a great deal of help. I felt much more confident identifying and raising awareness on both positive and negative effects impacting these minorities as they reflected the ideals I tend to face on a daily basis.

I guess I needed this work to be as informative as possible but in a way that wasn't so obvious to the viewers. I designed an interplay across western, religious and cultural themes, such as Michelangelo's well renowned "Pieta" with a Polynesian twist - to construct personal views on my overall theme, confirming the title: The Fall Of Tradition. Also the progressive use of religious outtakes such as "The Garden of Eden" symbolising purity and innocence. "The Promised Land" a collective misconception of western society widely shared across Indigenous immigrants in search of a land flowing with milk and honey. These are just a few discussed amongst the series of work, I will leave you to interpret the rest.

I understand with great depth that this series of work will possibly apply to only a very minute crowd, and I can handle that. What matters is what happens next. Where to from here?

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I was fortunate enough to utilise an on-site studio at my high school, controlled lighting was key in this series as we were not only pressured for time but also needed that extra dimension of control over how the final product may turnout. A great deal of post production on Adobe Photoshop CS6 was involved with the series. Such as compositing and colorisation in order to have the series flow with a rich hint of Polynesian flare. (Such as rich dark browns and deep greens and olives etc) There was a purpose for everything!

One photographic technique (well it's really a post production technique) I took on-board was "Multiplicity", we had been introduced to this technique by our teacher, I never really thought of the technique being utilised to tie my entire series together but it did and I would not have done it any other way.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

I would have to give a lot of credit to my mentor and teacher for helping shape and mold my thoughts into something that managed to even slightly make sense at the least. I struggled so much in settling on one concept and trying to tie all those ideas in together. With the guidance of my teacher I was able to do just that. Sometimes as a student we may either feel inadequate or confused at how to tackle a challenge, and despite this need for help we'd allow pride to get the better of us and try and brush it under the carpet. In all honesty, it never works. Pride is your enemy, it was definitely mine, I managed to get there in the end but I truly know it could have been much easier than I allowed it to be. Kia kaha.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Jess Sloman, Rangitoto College

My plans for 2015:

I am continuing my study at tertiary level, beginning a degree in Communication Design at AUT in March. I will also be continuing my part time customer service job.

Information about my work: 'The Material Garden'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

At first I wanted to develop the idea of a garment coming to life through the use of floral materials resembling life and growth. Shortly after completing half of my second board, I decided I wanted to change my idea slightly. I realised that the garments containing fake, natural and floral patterns can never compare to the beauty of real nature. This is where I developed the idea to use real flowers and plants on top of sewing materials and equipment, to show nature taking over.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I mainly used birds eye views and close up camera techniques to show the importance of materials and equipment used. I also made the triangle and circle a recurring shape throughout the board to represent 'the circle of life', linking to the theme of plants and flowers. The main materials used in my board were floral fabrics, sewing equipment and natural garden resources, to fit the theme of 'the material garden'.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

Some high points of the journey included the easy access to the subject, as I've used all of my mum's sewing gear. Motivation also made the assignment a lot easier, due to my passion toward the subject. I've always been a lover of nature, as well as sewing devices, which made the subject the perfect choice for me.

The only challenge I faced was with lighting. Having to take photos in the late afternoon proved to be difficult in the short amount of time I had before the sun went down. Having a black backdrop for all of my photos didn't help either. This is where my organisation and time management helped. Other than this minor low point, I didn't face any other issues.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Cory Beale, Inglewood High School

My plans for 2015:

Yoobee School of Design, Diploma of Animation and Digital Video.

Information about my work: 'The Power of the Elements on Us'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

First I introduced the elements of water, earth and fire. Then used artist model Michiko Kon to create shapes out of them. I used artist model David Levinthal when I introduced the figurines. Slowly the boards took on a more significant approach, investigating DNA and chromosomes using the elements and figurines.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I used water, earth and fire throughout, as well as ice and, later the figurines. I integrated them together by freezing the figurines in ice. I also used the macro lens a lot and had a very small depth of field in a lot of my photos.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

Creating the small worlds on the petrie dishes was difficult to do. Using the macro lens and small depth of field was very successful and fun to experiment with. Most of my photos haven't been photo shopped in any way, or very little photo shopping has been used.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Isabel Shore, Western Springs College

My plans for 2015:

I am moving to the UK in April to do an Arts Foundation course in Brighton which will last for one year and enable me to experiment with a range of different art media, while continuing my photography.

Information about my work: 'The Shore Line'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

When developing ideas I had a large archive of different photographs of my grandfather that I wanted to use in contrast with my brother and father, to show similarities and differences between three generations of men. I liked the work of artist John Stezaker, who juxtaposes old photographs to create new imbalanced but strangely aligned images, and I used this technique as a starting point. I wanted to comment on the changes to the environment that have taken place over the past 80 years that these men have lived and I mixed man and nature to show the impact of humans on the planet. In my later boards I developed the motif of the young man being associated with city and clouds, the middle aged man with the water and the old man with trees and plants as a comment on how the climate has changed during their lifetimes.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I used a range of different photographic techniques throughout my board. In my first board I use minimal Photoshop and made simple juxtapositions of old and new images to show the similarities between the generations of men. In my second board I used cut outs, which I made three dimensional and then photographed to give my images some texture and shadow. My final board is very Photoshop based, and I collected images from a range of sources and did several landscape shoots which I combined to create the surreal settings in the final images.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

It took me a very long time to produce my final three boards and I explored a lot of other ideas and themes before I settled on the final structure. For every image that is on the board I probably created around 10 other images and spent a lot of time developing photographs that never made it to the final board.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Danella Palmer, Southland Girls' High School

My plans for 2015:

Studying accounting and management at Otago University.

Information about my work:

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

My first few photo-shoots were general pictures of still life, focusing on objects closely related to chores. This progressed to the concept of a woman who feels pressured to pursue the typical housewife image. Bernard Blume and David Hilliard became inspirations to my work, as I was able to use techniques in a similar way to portray a chaotic/repetitive lifestyle. This included movement and panoramic images.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I often used slow shutter speeds to capture movement in my photographs; eventually I began to blur my images instead of using a slow shutter speed to give more of a distraught feeling. Symbolism was used when photographing as I incorporated the colour red to represent stress and anger through the use of common household items- however some images I manipulated in Photoshop. Repetition was also an effective technique through the development of my board.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

A low point that arose was when it was half way through 2014 but there was not much variety in my work, to resolve this I brought a figure into my photo-shoots rather than photographing strictly still life. A high point was seeing the board completed.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Sophie Lemaire-Sicre, Wakatipu High School

My plans for 2015:

Studying a Bachelor of Design at Massey University, Wellington.

Information about my work: 'Toxic Beauty'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

My initial focus was to address an issue many of us let go unnoticed throughout our day to day lives. This then brought me to the idea that the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, whether they be hygiene or beauty related, are advertised to us as 'life enhancing necessities' but are really harmful poisons. My panels were created to remind us of the fragility of the human form and to demonstrate an exaggerated effect of chemical use on the body.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I tried to keep photography simple to contrast with my complex theme, so still life photography is a common method used throughout all three panels. By establishing the setting first I hoped to allow the audience to follow the narrative easily. I also played with colour intensity by making the yellows harsher towards the end, representing the severity of the toxins.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Isabella Wallace, Wellington East Girls' College

My plans for 2015:

I am taking a year off to work and save money. I hope to travel overseas in the second half of the year.

Information about my work: 'New Dawn'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

I am the type of person who brainstorms a lot! I find coming up with specific themes hard, so I have to do page upon page of brainstorming ideas and the expansion of these ideas. In year 12 I took Art History, where we studied the Art of the French Revolutions. I fell in love with these works, especially the earlier Rococo style and the works of Ingres. I wanted to explore the aesthetics of these works in a modern day setting, specifically how they would relate and contrast. I spent a lot of time scouring the internet for artist models, both old and new, and tried to decide on a final style for my board. I wanted it to look modern in the way it was put together. I focussed on it looking clean and polished, with an emphasis on luxury and the over the top style of old portraits. Basically my theme was never concrete, but I had a few strong concept ideas which I pulled through to my final work, despite the constant evolution of my thought processes and direction.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

My process basically consisted of taking photos everywhere and constantly carrying around bags of fabric and dresses and jewels. My shoots in the studio took a lot of preparation, from organising costumes to recreating poses exactly as they appeared in the original painting. It was definitely not just a 'point and shoot' series.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

This portfolio is what I focused on most during the year and has come with its successes and failures. Finding 18th and 19th century style garments is not exactly easy. My highest point is always finishing a series and becoming genuinely happy and excited about the outcome. Also working with a model who is always consistent, and knows exactly what I mean when I say 'I dunno - pose like Mary Antoinette or something', and actually looks really good in a grey curly wig.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Diana Simumpande, Glendowie College

My plans for 2015:

I will be studying communications at AUT.

Information about my work: 'The Hollow Men'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

Conceptually my ideas were sparked by the visual Poem; The Thinker of Tender Thoughts by Shel Silverstein. The poem explores the struggle to stay true to oneself when faced with the pressure to conform. I found this concept fascinating and wanted to explore it further through photography. I drew influences from photomontage photographers like Jerry Uelsmann and Tommy Ingberg, as well as surrealist artists like Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, who were instrumental in the shift from simpler images to the more complicated and elaborate composite images. With their work as reference, I was able to build on my theme and communicate conformity through surrealist images. However, thematically I was influenced by Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which explored the ideas of conformity through suburban and institutional settings, and contributed to the direction of the them. The more surreal images show a manifestation of the man's inner fears and uncertainties, these were also communicated through reception, tone and colour.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

Photoshop played a large role in the execution of the images. Although this was very time consuming, it was a good way of learning how to extend and develop ideas as well as improving my own Photoshop skills, and in the end it proved to be quite a therapeutic process. Colour was also very significant; beforehand I had already selected a colour palette of blues and greys, as well as black and white to stick to. I created contrast by placing low saturated colours next to an intense black. Using muted and sterile colours helped convey the theme and reflected the inner conflict within the model without having to use an explicit narrative. I used a variety of different shots, experimented with focus and framing shots and learned to think methodically when planning certain images. Continuity was also imperative, as well as revising old ideas.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

It was gratifying to see how I grew as the year matured and I found that I could do the things that I really didn't think I could at the beginning of the year. A high point was going out on a whim and just trying something to see if I could do it and then actually seeing it come to life and work! A low point was definitely figuring out how to arrange the images in a way that made sense and finding the right balance between simple and more complicated images. There was a point where I really couldn't see the end and didn't think I'd ever be able to come up with enough strong ideas and execute them in a way that I personally deemed acceptable. However this just made the finished product more rewarding, because I managed to produce something that I was proud of and I could honestly say I did my best.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Grace Carden-Horton, Queen Margaret College

My plans for 2015:

Moving to Auckland to attend Elam Fine Arts School.

Information about my work: Identity/Masks, 'Who am I?'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

I began with the idea of how someone's identity is built just by what they look like in a school, ID or passport photo. How, although this photo may not change, identity can develop and be influenced by others. Throughout the folio the idea of masks and hiding behind this pre-conceived facade that these photos create, has been used. Throughout I have tried to embrace the quirkiness and cheesy aspect that these photos and environments hold.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

The beginning/ foundation of my folio began with the idea of commercial/ school photographs to create quite a quirky, awkward feel. To develop my work further I played a lot with layers and regeneration to change the original photo. I really enjoyed bringing in aspects from other art disciplines suck as paint to create more texture and depth to the once flat image.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

As this was the first time I had been working with a model for my photography, it was sometimes hard to find a time to shoot that would suit everyone. I solved this by planning my photo shoots beforehand, so I could make the most of the time I had.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Deitrah Chang, Onehunga High School

Information about my work: 'Moving Forward'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

The idea of photographing my grandparents blossomed when I was planning, I asked myself 'what do I really love that the future Deitrah will love in 20 years time?' and it hit me - my grandparents. Ideally my board was going to be based on their retired domestic life (which is fairly routine, as most retired lives tend to be). The theme of my board slowly evolved when I was told they were moving house sooner than expected. This took a radical turn for my board/ideas as I was now in love with the idea of old vs new, not only contrasting the old vs modern house, but moving house at 60 years old isn't the most comfortable thing to do; new people, new community, new routine etc.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

Being a documentary board, my board includes standard techniques taken into careful consideration, for instance; light exposure, rule of thirds, angles. In order to make your photographs meaningful and interesting these techniques are imperative. Simple techniques such as zooming in and out will draw your attention to distinct details. Constant shooting, planning, evaluating occurred throughout developing this board. It was a continuous cycle which I couldn't have done without my photography teacher. She would constantly intervene, critique (harshly) and advise me as to what to do with my work to make it better.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

The overall process was so rewarding on my part, in regards to photographing two people who I have the utmost respect for, and will always have an unconditional love for. An issue I found quite amusing was when I would try to take subtle photographs of my grandparents, a lot of the time they would pose, proudly to be photographed. They would do this numerous times out of understanding that the board was very important to me. However, I did not have the audacity to explain that documentary photography isn't posed, so I'd just laugh and photograph them posing.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Clementine Lambert, Hamilton Girls' High School

My plans for 2015:

This year I will be studying visual communication design at Massey University.

Information about my work: 'Our society's use of water' (and how it affects our planet)

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

When I started my work on water, my original idea was to concentrate on the domestic use of water (taps, dishwashers, washing machines) but as I went on I realised that our everyday use of water was also linked to pollution (water pollution). This new concept about pollution allowed me to regenerate and expand my theme to something broader: 'how our use of water affects our planet and therefore us as well'. But it also allowed me to show how the people 'ruling us' drown us in lies and turn us into sheep (making us believe anything they want, even though our world is fine).

Techniques / Processes / Materials

  • use of thumbnails and annotations for the planning.
  • use of a lighting studio to give an artificial look to some of the photographs.
  • use of Photoshop to change the saturation of colours (in order to look artificial and toxic) and also to create 'collage' looking photographs.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Chloe Childs , Mount Albert Grammar School

My plans for 2015:

Bachelor of Arts at AUT, majoring in Event Management

Information about my work: 'Gladstone'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

I started the year without a firm idea of what I wanted to photograph. After changing my theme plenty of times, I settled on where I went to school, Gladstone Primary. Since I work there now, I have had the opportunities to explore the buildings and see the happiness and life the school always has.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

The photographs were initially enhanced in Lightroom, focussed on bringing out the colour and creating contrast. The second half of my portfolio explored manipulation in Photoshop, adding textures and colour overlays. I was inspired by the colour-block work of Mauren Brodbeck.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

Getting the second board finished was a huge achievement, because it is the board that ties the first and third together in theme. Developing my ideas on the final board came as a challenge. I wanted to reintroduce previous ideas without being too repetitive. I had to get my teachers and classmates opinions before finishing it.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Emma Nicholls, Hastings Girls; High School

My plans for 2015:

This year I have decided to have a gap year. I am working at Hastings Girls' High School as a teacher's assistant.

Information about my work: 'Everything has beauty'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

I wanted to show all aspects of the onion from the skin to the flesh of the onion. Using Matthew Chase Daniel as an artist model helped to develop my ideas for close, mid and long range shots using a grid system idea. I also took the onion as a still life art form, with the onions many layers.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

I used every part of the onion, on the third board I placed a light under the onion flesh which brought out the fine detail of the onion and made it appear translucent.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

All and all the onion itself is such an interesting object. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the onion because of its 'circle within circle' structure that the Egyptians saw as eternal life, and I tried to show this in my last board.

Click any thumbnail to view a larger version:

Bridget McGechan, New Plymouth Girls' High School

My plans for 2015:

This year I plan to take a gap year before beginning tertiary study. I plan to work full time to earn enough money to travel to France and America in September for the Annual Motocross of Nations, as a media assistant to my journalist father.

Information about my work: 'Motocross Madness'

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

Capturing movement meant that I had to be extremely conscious of focussing on my subject matter. I love the aspect of beauty portrayed in the sport of motocross. Masculine riders are so colourful, which I find ironic. Other pictorial devices I used were; repetition, view point, pattern and shadow.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

A huge inspiration to my work was my dad. He mentored me with my photography at motocross. During the production of my work a friend of mine, Trent Haywood, passed away in a motocross crash. This has altered my perspective of just how dangerous the sport is, considering nearly every race has a crash or injury as an outcome - or in the worst case, death.

James MacKinnon, Auckland Grammar School

My plans for 2015:

I will be studying Communication Design at AUT.

Information about my work:

Ideas / Concepts / Themes

I began by looking at moments in modern history that my family were present during, ultimately deciding on both world wars and the Korean War. I began by visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum to photograph displays and understand the content I wanted to document. I then chose to look at my grandfather Alan's medals and time he spent in Korea and Japan. To do this I used maps and photographs of both Alan and younger generations that fought in wars.

Techniques / Processes / Materials

There isn't a great deal of technical work present in my folio, instead I wanted contrast to be the most obvious technique used throughout, such as the medals against a black background. The desaturation of all the photographs so they had uniform colour and lighting assisted with creating the overall design of the folio.

Highs and lows that arose during the production of my work:

When the deadline for the folio was approaching, I was missing quite a lot of photographs to tie the whole project together. Despite this, I think it was at this point that I came up with some of my best work.

 
Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us newzealand.govt.nz