Assessment Report

Level 3 Visual Arts 2019

Standards 91455  91456  91457  91458  91459

Part B: Report on standards

91455:  Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within design

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • composed and applied a select number of foundational design elements together – most commonly formats, type and image generation – to communicate ideas or a message
  • established a colour palette from the start to maintain consistency
  • followed and established a coherent brief that started with a plan and intention; often this only related to formats rather than message or meaning / content
  • used systematic drawing and media processes to generate a starting option, limited by narrow phases of explorative drawing at the outset
  • were unable to clarify and select 1-3 best typeface options to consolidate brand and campaign communication across the folio
  • understood and used a small range of conventions, which suggested that research was not ongoing or informing decision-making
  • had difficulty selecting and editing the best concepts and visual outcomes to purposefully expand on
  • reapplied all the brand marks they had developed to new collateral, rather than consolidating and harnessing the brand-mark decisions they had already resolved to free up time for new idea generation, inventions and research.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • ran short of work and resorted to presenting step-by-step process leading to a final artwork
  • did not present a systematic and cohesive body of work; each new approach to a format heralded a new style, new typeface, new colour palette, and new attempt at conventions
  • lacked evidence of type understanding, selection and hierarchy; i.e. stacking, display typeface versus body copy, grid structures etc.
  • selected and used typeface that was inappropriate to the topic, aesthetic, and brief
  • demonstrated limited understanding and exploration of research to inform their own practice, which resulted in over-reliance on a superficial trend
  • printed work that was pixelated and/or stretched to fit various formats
  • produced art work that was poorly presented; the scale of printed outcomes in relationship to format affected workload and achievement
  • chose a colour palette that was illegible and overloaded visual communication and readability
  • relied on digital filters that confused and lacked clarity and communication of ideas and message
  • showed a lack of relationship and understanding between visual style and the brief or topic they were investigating
  • did not understand the conventions and function of formats, such as posters that presented minimal information for the event or organisation being promoted
  • placed their logo on stock merchandise templates that did little to evidence the standard
  • relied on stock imagery without taking ownership thorough manipulation or media exploration / processes
  • did not use their brand mark consistently throughout the folio; instead, they changed the brand with each format shift, which confused communication and message.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • made a decision and used their final brand mark, then went on to purposefully explore new ideas, formats, and media relationships
  • used a clean grid system to present art work on the folio, which allowed for systematic and consistent reading of experimentation, regeneration, refinement, and final artwork
  • revealed new depths to their research whereby they were ideationally driven and on a quest to expand and regenerate ideas
  • manipulated images to ensure a substantial bank of assets could sustain the folio and development of ideas
  • were prepared to challenge formats rather than stay within the well-known and conventional models
  • started to develop visual language that did not rely on graphic trends heralding the beginning of a graphic language pertinent to subject and topic
  • used a range of drawing modalities and media to regenerate and consolidate ideas
  • explored and developed visual language with a focus on craft and execution
  • considered the characteristics of media and materiality and explored these options to advance ideas. 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • included a brief that had complexity and demonstrated a point of view or critical angle / context that was going to deepen the investigation and purpose of collateral (outputs)
  • revisited photoshoots and resource / research practices to refuel and extend ideas and visual language
  • travelled quickly and produced enough work to be critically selective and discerning about what work made it on to the folio
  • evidenced high levels of synthesis with the ability to combine ideational and visual fluency to communicate imaginative narratives and thoughtful and intelligent messaging / meaning
  • considered copywriting in both slogans and tag lines that enriched communication.
  • developed a brand system and typographic hierarchy that confidently underpinned their performance and intentionality; they didn’t keep changing their mind about brand and type
  • fluently understood and researched the conventions they were exploring to create new combinations and compositional options
  • valued content and really investigated their subject from a user-centred perspective; they visited and documented sites, recorded observational drawings, took photos, read up on experiences, etc.
  • explored the conventions of time-based and narrative principles alongside the technical and graphic visual execution of type and image
  • produced and executed the artefact with high levels of production and craft values
  • situated their work and ideas in context, using research and practice to inform ideas, copywriting, and documentation of events, formats and art work.

Standard-specific comments

Three-panel folio submissions

Briefs that responded to social, cultural, and environmental issues were a standout feature this year. The level of connection and care candidates have for topics and issues that intersect with their own curiosities, beliefs, or personal knowledge and experience was a highlight. These topics were wide-ranging: identity, gender and LGBTQ, refugees and immigration, water pollution, veganism, consumerism, sport, health and well-being, recycling and upcycling, growing food, and an array of mental health issues relevant to youth.

This commitment and passion for their subject often sparked dynamic starting points evident at the outset of panel one through a range of drawing processes and media explorations: photoshoots, character design, prop prototyping, environment and site scoping, type exploration, display typeface construction, motif and icon development. Candidates who managed a wide range of illustrative tactics alongside the generation of their own photographic practices were able to resource starting points that travelled and regenerated more thoroughly and deeply from the outset of board one.

Systematic and sustained drawing and media processes were rewarded. These performances used experimentation and prototyping to refuel and extend ideas. Candidates at the upper end of Excellence manipulated graphic and 3-D conventions simultaneously and were inventive about the types of formats they were producing for their audience.

Candidates are encouraged to move beyond “trendy tropes” to avoid superficial utilisation of graphic conventions. Performances that identified and utilised conventions to create new ideas and relevant links such as pop-ups, 3-D models, die-cut, emboss, interaction, board game developments, temporary practices, zines, collage, stencil, line, form, silhouettes and shadows, printed books, and putting design artworks into context were commended. 

Presentation is important. Colour and clarity of text and image relationships is vital. Consistent sizing of artwork and a structured grid presentation system aids the reading of a systematic process. Printing work at an unreasonably large scale reveals a lack of workload parity to be rewarded with 14 credits. Presentation-appropriate outcomes should fit the purpose of the design proposition and align proportionally to the scale of formats being investigated. An entire board of DPS (six developments) and three large printed final spreads can be problematic alongside performances that present two ideational and format investigations on one board.

Once again, candidates who were inventive around formats showed a higher level of engagement with their topic and brief. Candidates are encouraged to use the conventions of formats appropriately – a poster and billboard needs to communicate seminal information, message, and meaning.

Sufficiency was a growing concern this year. The use of templates from Graphic Burger etc. often involved simply applying a brand mark on a hat, a sweatshirt, a car, outside signage, a tee, a bus, a mug, or a keep cup. These types of merchandise formats can be restrictive for candidates attempting to demonstrate purpose and/or fluency. Half a board of T-shirts that read as a logo placed in a T-shirt block or wristband does very little to demonstrate achievement in our subject.

At the lower end of the achievement performance, often candidates started each format (poster, postcard, business card, flyer, tickets) as if “each day is a new day”. This approach restricts systematic evidence of regeneration and is counterintuitive to evidencing clarification and purposefulness.

Typography should be clarified and consistent. When managing a brand, 2-3 typefaces are appropriate. At the Excellence level, this is sustained and confidently evidenced as brand attributes allow for inventive ideation and new visual language tactics / conventions.

Colour management aids the readability of a folio and “less is more”. Pale colours, browns and insipid colour are to be discouraged unless there is some conceptual relevance to the topic.

Briefs are a great tool for candidates and can create a framework and set of tactics from the outset of this assessment. A brief must be well-researched and of interest to the candidates. Expecting candidates to use briefs from exemplars is disappointing and limiting, as are whole-class programmes.

Important note

Authenticity often plagues the assessment of this Design standard and the incorporation of someone else’s work should be actively discouraged.

Candidates are advised to generate their own images (still and moving image). Stock images and digital items, in the majority of instances, close down opportunities for regeneration and inventiveness, as candidates can rely too heavily on imagery and ideas they have no relationship to or ownership of. This can limit opportunity for synthesis, fluency, inventiveness, experimentation, and authentic outcomes.

For this standard, candidates are not being asked to produce a folio for commercial purposes, nor are they working for clients in a commercial context. Original photoshoots and imaging-making processes allow the candidates a larger range of options to support a variety of ideas, processes, and procedures across their folio. When candidates are using found images, they are often not constructing and deconstructing to create new work and identify new links for extension. This can prohibit ownership and a quest to manipulate the image to arrive at new ideas – hence the image can sometimes start and end as the best aspect of the artwork and still not really be the candidate’s own.

Sufficiency is also an issue, as too many candidates use the Authenticity Declaration to justify a reliance on the use of other artists’ imagery, which makes it very hard to assess a student’s fundamental learnings about the subject of Design.

Moving Image submissions

In successful Moving Image Design submissions, candidates managed the allocated viewing time, frequently moving between graphic and time-based outcomes with a shared pictorial aesthetic and consistent colour palette that ran through all aspects of their projects.

These candidates took ownership of their projects, even within the constraints of a class programme. They made and used sound as a positive and considered element within their submissions. Their propositions were manageable, original, and founded in the candidates’ own interests. Top-performing candidates demonstrated a sense of humour and used technological tools fluently and that were appropriate to the nature of their project.

These submissions heralded several sufficient phases to allow the work to be critically selected and extended.

In less successful Moving Image Design submissions, candidates used unnecessary transitions that hindered the viewing of graphic outcomes and narratives.

Frequently, submissions were overlaid with a song with little or no relationship to the work. When sound is included and is instrumentally the central idea, it really needs to be the candidate’s own work.

Some candidates are buying / downloading stock digital items such as humanoid figures. These practices can be restrictive, as are the constraints of whole-class programmes, including the time allocations given to certain sections within the submission. Often, candidates spent a large amount of time showing the processes used and how they technically made a digital asset.

Submissions with a small proportion of Moving Image components might have been better served using the traditional printed folio mode.

Performances with limited phases and work ethic filled up time with filmic shoots that often had a limited relationship to the design brief and outputs.

91456: Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within painting

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • showed clear moments of merit; however, these tended to be undermined by sudden changes in colour schemes or inconsistent decision-making compared with earlier phases of work
  • selected artistic models that were relevant to their work and applied these ideas and methods in their production; at times, this appeared to be superficial due to limited research
  • were limited at times by direct use of images online that related to their theme but didn’t allow them to increase their associated understanding of picture-making concerns in order to make better paintings to support their narrative
  • made choices that allowed them to work to their strengths, despite limitations at times
  • made drawings and paintings that were related but not always integrated into later works
  • invested too much in character development or listing subject matter before addressing picture-making concerns with these elements
  • restricted their performance with a limited proposition to start with, not allowing the opportunities to further develop and clarify ideas
  • engaged in a linear journey that seemed to have a preordained outcome, therefore limited reflection on what happened as an outcome of making the artwork
  • presented a limited amount of work or work of a progressively lower quality over the boards, possibly due to time management, which provided less evidence for markers to reward.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • performed below the curriculum level required; this might have been overcome if, before assembling the board, they spent more time practising the media or representational drawing they chose to deal with
  • presented insufficient work, empty boards, space fillers, or enlarged detail colour photocopies of work already on the board
  • arranged work with a poor layout and ordering that resulted in an unsystematic reading for markers
  • copied other artists’ work directly and / or worked with no relationship with their own generation of imagery; there was often an over-reliance on artist models, with a new model used for each panel
  • were limited by a narrow proposition from which to generate ides, which didn’t allow them to clarify what they were dealing with, let alone regenerate ideas in terms of picture-making
  • showed an overinvestment in a complex narrative or theme that overwhelmed or distracted the candidate from developing pictorial ideas.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • chose a proposition or subject matter that was appropriate to their ability to deal with technically
  • had a solid foundation to their investigation of subject matter, in terms of own photo shoots, media trials, etc.; their drawings and paintings led the development of subject matter or themes in relation to content, composition, scale, framing, and text
  • presented a coherent, consistent body that explored options and thinking around various combinations that allowed further extension
  • recognised each work was important to process, but sometimes smaller shifts in ideas meant reordering motifs rather than advancement of proposition
  • showed strong generation and developmental works with less resolved work over the last panel that limited performance
  • used artist models with relevant ideas and approaches that didn’t seem forced in terms of making them change their work in an arbitrary way
  • understood the constraints of the folio format with works considered through careful editing
  • arrived at thought-out colour palettes and well-constructed painted surfaces.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • refined works with a clear pictorial vocabulary where each work contributed something valuable to the whole submission
  • demonstrated consistently high skill and technical level in relation to their proposition
  • showed total engagement through ownership of the proposition, reflected by in-depth research and learning through established practice in relation to their work
  • practised by doing, which allowed them to engage in an ongoing critical editing and ordering
  • had a high-level entry point and were based on a far greater body of work; these candidates learnt through production
  • showed they could present small series of developmental works that provided a greater range of options and shifts that could still be translated with finesse to a larger scale in terms of finished paintings
  • when using found imagery, showed their understanding of appropriation; this indicated candidates had a high level of understanding around contemporary exhibitions, publications, etc, which allowed for innovative extension of such practice
  • examined narrative in ways that didn’t interfere with them refining compositional, technical, or other picture-making concerns; these would be integrated into the production of the work in a relevant format to the narrative.

Standard-specific comments

A standout feature of the Level 3 external examination was the increased range in approaches to painting practice represented at the highest levels of performance. These folios came from a diverse range of schools, covering a wide range of geographical areas. The strength of painting as a field is its ability to provide teachers with a wealth of approaches to engage their students in the classroom and it is pleasing to see that access to examples of artists’ work is not limited by their location in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

As pleasing as it is to see examples such as illustration, abstraction, moving image and street art do well at this top end, many of these approaches still seem underrepresented or missing across the other grade boundaries. Popular art movements such as street art have all but disappeared, when in our cities and towns they seem more accepted by councils. In relation to the standard it is the process involved in making the body of work in conjunction with the art approaches that denotes the success, not the genre itself.

In terms of this “body of work” or the folio, it has become notable in the past couple of years that the amount of work or evidence on boards is decreasing significantly. Folios of outstanding performance with many larger works and fewer works per board overall can be seen, but the sophistication within these individual pieces has still provided the evidence markers are looking for. Offering more opportunities to see individual decision-making within and between passages provides the range of options markers are looking for to reward at higher grade levels. If candidates provide less work, and struggle to fulfil the assessment criteria due to the challenges of scale, combined with time management, their performance can be undermined.

Small series of developmental works allow for a greater range of options to be explored and more risk-taking and experimentation. Candidates can then produce more advanced finished works. Rigorous testing and challenging of the candidate’s proposition are also reflective of a more authentic art-making experience.

The layout and ordering of work continue to be of paramount importance. As stated in the past, boards should not be glued down until very late in the process to allow the arrangement of earlier work to most successfully support the candidates’ final outcomes. Time management is always difficult, but the ability to critically reflect on the final body of work is vital.

2019 finally saw a drop in the amount of wet and, therefore, damaged work. Some spray-on glazes appear to still be problematic, but putting something between panels seems to limit damage caused by uncured paint.

Labelling is an ongoing issue; photos of larger works or photos of subject matter should be clearly labelled. Digital works could indicate software programmes used in the same way that a photo of a sculpture may state it is clay, or an installation is appropriately documented. Some of these issues cross over into authenticity and markers need to know if candidates are using colour photocopies the size of the originals.

Skill levels are currently a concern. Underlining this is the need to ensure the candidates are engaged in propositions that suits their skill sets. Many excellence boards have an advanced start, which indicates a greater body of work prior to the start of the board. This quantity often reflects more “learning through doing”. Many boards seem to include preliminary work that becomes a listing of subject matter and can take up valuable real estate with little return.

Successful engagement with the folio requires the selection of a proposition for which the appropriate skills base has been acquired. Tracing doesn’t help this and can stop the ability to acquire the necessary drawing skills.  Painting over colour photocopies also reappeared in 2019, interfering with the candidate’s ability to improve their picture-making skills.

At times, it seems the understanding of the term “ideas” in the standard is restricted by a literal interpretation, so a narrative or theme dominates. Defining one’s ideas at Merit can just be ideas related to a type of painting, for example, the formal concerns pertaining to abstraction. When a narrative dominates, understanding of picture-making can take a back seat.

In 2019, digital painting continued to grow and seemed to be solidly grounded in the interests of the candidate. This led to an engaged work ethic that was successful. However, overly repetitive image-making from few images did limit performance at the lower level, as did printing on poor quality paper, and pixilation issues.

Moving Image continues to be rare in Painting, yet in 2019 the quality of the top submission showed how successful it can be.  Again, ownership of the proposition and its relevance to moving image in a painting context is convincing. Moving Image can continue to be used in an insightful and intelligent way in Level 3 Painting, as this year’s example shows.

In Moving Image, the relationship between drawing and animation could be further explored, in the style of (if not the scale of) the Italian street artist BLU, or the richness of the work of Lisa Reihana in her Digital Marae or In Pursuit of Venus (infected). This should lift the potential for candidates’ propositions to be based on a skill set they have or can acquire through making. Critical reflection will result in new outcomes and more work. 

91457:  Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within photography

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • engaged in a project by appropriately using pictorial devices such as line, pattern, tone, space, and depth of field to assist with the clarification and regeneration of ideas
  • displayed an understanding of camera functions, including appropriate conventions; for example, photomontage and the use of a few selected filters for specific effects
  • undertook some type of research to help with informing decisions and influencing the direction of the project
  • sequenced their images to form an appropriate, systematic order with reference to some established practice to clarify ideas
  • established a proposition centred around their project; however, with limited research, the project often became a short journey.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • displayed inconsistent levels of technical facility, often presenting images that were so dark that the readability of the portfolio was hindered
  • presented a combination of irrelevant and often unrelated images, which presented unclear ideas with no or very little reference to established practice or an established proposition
  • selected a very limited or singular subject matter that did not provide sufficient material to revisit
  • did not edit out earlier phases of working due to the insufficient amount of work made throughout the course of the year
  • cut up images at random to attempt to make more images and / or used unnecessary ‘fillers’ to cover the three panels with photographs.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • demonstrated proficient technical knowledge and skill with many processes appropriate to their selected project
  • analysed and reflected on their ideas to make purposeful editing and sequencing decisions, with each phase of working expanding on the previous one
  • established a range of combinations with several conventions that were experimented with on panels one and two; however, panel three often was insufficient in the regeneration of ideas
  • demonstrated clear decision-making, such as editing, sequencing and layout, including the hierarchy of images
  • undertook research and utilised it to their advantage, expanding on the project to formulate an in-depth proposition that offered scope
  • selected and used appropriate pictorial conventions and processes purposefully.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • engaged in a high level of ownership with their proposition and the processes used, and presented an independent project that synthesised multiple directions to obtain original ideas
  • mastered the technical requirements and characteristics of their chosen processes, whether analogue, antiquarian processes, moving image, and/or digital
  • made intelligent decisions around editing, sequencing and layout
  • could regenerate a depth of ideas and critically revisit previous work in order to inform the next steps and enable regeneration of their ideas
  • took risks to test and trial that demonstrated the candidate’s ability to depart from established practice and make new, informed decisions about their project.

Standard-specific comments

Many 2019 Photography candidates made successful submissions and could demonstrate adequate to excellent understanding of various technical applications, including ideas that were rich due to investing time and research into establishing an engaging proposition. The top-end portfolios were very impressive; however, overall it was exciting to see more candidates achieving with Merit.

Candidates can often underestimate research; however, investing time into research to develop a proposition is paramount. The proposition framework needs to sustain three panels and have lateral scope to be expanded. Being too singular with subject matter will certainly restrict the ability to regenerate ideas. Subject matter is not an idea. Subject matter should be determined afterwards by asking what is appropriate to use and photograph to communicate the project. 

It is important that candidates take ownership of their layout and ordering of photographs, including the printing of their photographs. Candidates should prioritise their images by selecting their strongest compositions first and aim to making these larger so that there is a degree of hierarchy. If resizing of photographs is required, candidates must be sure to print the original files and to test print quality first. This is particularly important when undertaking large panel printouts. This year saw an increase in large panel printouts, including candidates printing on laser printers. It is more desirable to print regularly throughout Term 3 and reflect: “Am I getting pure whites and blacks? Is there any pixilation? Is focus correct in my photographs and are there any lines or streaks running through them?” Many candidates printed photographs that were dark and dense or pixilated, stretched or completely out of focus, or with lines running through them, and this hindered the readability of their submissions.

The number of Moving Image (MI) submissions in Photography remains very small; however, the submissions were more purposeful. Many candidates had a clear proposition that was manageable, yet allowed multiple options. There were fewer still images that made up candidates’ submissions and when incorporating still images, the shifts were more seamless between still and moving. Sound was used more strategically by many candidates and often enhanced the project in many cases, rather than dominating or taking away from the regeneration of ideas. Sound was used to create a mood or atmosphere, and when recorded by the student, contributed to the meaning more. Some candidates used friends in their making and these were often well-directed and models were clothed appropriately. There were more candidates this year who developed projects that allowed them to return, or to revisit, and, by doing so, they were able to further extend and clarify their concepts.

Each year, candidate projects are far-reaching. Projects ranged from gender identity to environment; climate change to technology; social media to ‘self’. It is important that candidates embark on projects that are relevant to their lives to support engagement for the duration of the year and that the practice of research is a valid and valued component of a candidate’s overall practice. 

91458:  Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within printmaking

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • set up a clear proposition to create options and ideas 
  • built on successful elements and strengths
  • developed ideas through sequences of works
  • ordered works to show thinking and decision-making
  • understood development, although at times images were repetitive
  • moved forward slowly, often repeating a similar composition several times
  • demonstrated basic skills and some understanding of the characteristics of printmaking techniques
  • used their own imagery and took their own photographs
  • experimented with a range of media
  • used ink with some sensitivity.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • began with a narrow proposition or single idea
  • repeatedly printed the same plate, often across more than one panel
  • relied on found or borrowed images
  • showed a lack of sensitivity in the use of ink, often applying thick layers
  • arranged works in a non-sequential manner
  • presented series of similar works, reflecting a lack of editing
  • used colour in an arbitrary manner, without intention.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • established a range of options to visually set up a clear and broad proposition
  • generated ideas by combining a range of pictorial devices
  • ordered and sized images to emphasise strengths and show decision-making
  • showed well-understood use of specific print media
  • maintained momentum and purpose across all three boards
  • presented a variety of approaches to drawing and gathering ideas
  • presented learning with breathing space between works to allow individual works to be read easily
  • combined approaches such as collage and digital media effectively
  • consistently sustained ideas across three boards and prioritised options clearly
  • used sequences of small studies to explore options and ideas
  • analysed images to advance ideas.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • displayed ownership of ideas and embraced individual stylistic strengths
  • analysed strengths to provide options and expand subjects / concepts
  • selected and mixed colour critically to communicate meaning
  • built on learning, including unexpected outcomes to open up further possibilities and options
  • confidently selected and used methods to emphasise ideas
  • drew on ideas from a wide variety of sources and seamlessly integrated these through authentic, personalised learning
  • demonstrated intelligent synthesis of traditional processes and contemporary digital practice, handling transitions with fluidity
  • used printmaking as a direct drawing medium
  • explored extension possibilities such as printing on to objects, different surfaces or textural materials relevant to proposition and, at times, expanded ideas into installation
  • showed evidence of deep thinking and informed decision-making based on analysis of strengths in own work.

Standard-specific comments 

Strong drawing, impressive technical skills and rich, vibrant use of colour were characteristic of many printmaking submissions in 2018. Most candidates showed evidence of deep thinking, analysis and sound decision-making.

A number of submissions continue to deal with conceptual concerns relating to cultural or social issues. It was pleasing to see an increased interest in formal picture-making and abstraction. These submissions were successfully handled, often developing in a sophisticated manner from a collage foundation. Some candidates presented accomplished narratives; however, it is important these submissions move conceptually or pictorially to regenerate ideas and meet the standard.

Ordering is critical to show development. The majority of passages of work were well edited and arranged to clearly show ideas explored and a number of shifts across all three panels. Analysis of successful aspects, and prioritising these, helped advance and extend learning. 

Sequences of small works, photographs of larger works and thumbnail studies often allowed the opportunity to demonstrate exploration and an investigation into a depth and range of approaches. Small works allowed candidates to try out options and show decision-making between series of works. 

Breathing room, allowing space around each work, greatly helps read the portfolio easily and sequentially. It is important works are not presented touching or overlapping.

Many candidates intelligently translated images through one process to another to extend ideas and reform these into new works. This was seen in the use of processes where the integrity of the original printmaking method was maintained and enhanced, often resulting in more complex works layered in technique and in the meaning conveyed.

Colour was selected and used with purpose to communicate meaning. Sensitive and appropriate use of rich colour enhanced a well-developed print practice, as was purposeful use of embossing and stitching. These showed facility in their use and appropriate application in the context of the image making. Monochromatic ink with expressive plate tone was used well to convey an interest in gestural mark-making and surface.

A trend was a resurgence in the use of woodcut for its expressive qualities. These were beautifully cut, showing directional line and mark as tone. In some cases, woodcuts were successfully extended into installation and sculptural forms.

There was a strong sense of ownership and portfolios built on individual stylistic interests and strengths, their authentic voice clearly embedded in the work.

Exploring culture and family history to develop a printmaking proposition was seen as a growing trend. Submissions from a personal perspective were particularly powerful, when the candidate’s own photos were used, and printmaking conventions were strongly linked to cultural traditions. When the candidate appeared to have a genuine connection to the culture, the work had the ability to communicate that personal association and many of these achieved at Excellence level.

In general, there was much less evidence of indiscriminate and casual approaches to using ‘borrowed’ images than in the past. Often such practices border on plagiarism and candidates need to continue to be diligent in sourcing their subject matter. It was very pleasing to see so many candidates composing their own imagery from which to work.

Candidates are strongly advised not to use the same plate more than once. Repeatedly using a plate is detrimental to development and often results in producing imagery that does not regenerate ideas and submissions that ‘jump on the spot’, rather than moving forward. Instead, revisit previous work and consider other ways to move forward with new imagery, by changing scale, viewpoint or proximity. Evaluation and reflection of practice and process are key to successfully regenerating ideas.  

The marking team were impressed with the high skill level and refined use of print techniques. There was evidence of strong drawing skills based on both traditional and contemporary conventions. Printmaking techniques and methods such as monoprint, drypoint, woodcut and collographs (cardboard prints) were used seamlessly alongside screen print, pronto plate / lithography and digital or photographic processes such as solarplate. While some works were complex with multiple layered compositions, carefully registered and printed, other successful submissions relied on simply mastering one process, such as monoprint and using this with flair in a sophisticated manner.

Straightforward and accessible processes, including hand printing, rolled slab monoprinting, using a copier and frottage rubbings onto tissue, are affordable, do not require a press and can be used to produce very successful results. Printmaking easily spans painterly, photographic, sculptural, graphic, collage, digital and illustration-based interests. It lends itself well to those who love to draw.  

Very successful charcoal drawings were presented. These should be sealed to prevent smudging. Collage must be carefully glued to ensure there are not loose areas.

Influences from other fields have become more common, particularly the use of photographic conventions, including the use of Photoshop and laser printing to initiate and generate a body of work that is then translated into print. This is a promising development, as it suggests candidates are producing their own photographic imagery to develop their ideas. Combining wet media and computer-generated print processes to convey a sense of narrative was well-resolved and generally dealt with in a sophisticated manner.

There was evidence of purposeful use of three-dimensional print works and installation and such practices have become more integrated with the selected print conventions. Often, installation was used to regenerate new ideas and help shift the work into new directions.

Many submissions clearly demonstrated understanding of how to draw on and integrate aspects of researched artists’ work, rather than mimicking established practice. This ensures authenticity and innovation, resulting in candidates maintaining momentum across all panels. Reflection and thorough analysis are key in the development and extension of ideas and fundamental to high performance in this standard. In synthesising ideas through printmaking, there was an obvious sense of joy and mastery in process conveyed through the learning presented.

91459: Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within sculpture

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • utilised simple shifts in the use of materials to develop sculptural ideas and outcomes
  • used classic sculptural verbs such as wrapping or a thematic system to develop ideas in the body of work
  • employed simple sculptural materials and processes that allowed for iterative steps in the production of work
  • presented well-ordered photographic documentation of sculptural work
  • submitted moving image work that was genuine time-based practice within a sculptural context.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • made unrelated objects that demonstrated a lack of understanding of sculptural conventions and techniques
  • lacked an understanding of how to develop a sculptural idea
  • attempted to illustrate a political issue without identifying a clear sculptural proposition
  • failed to identify enough established sculptural practice from which to learn
  • engaged in creative play within a moving image context that did not engage in sculptural ideas.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • demonstrated a command of materials and techniques with purpose
  • presented successful sculptural outcomes that demonstrated a good understanding of a range of sculptural conventions
  • used a distinct set of sculptural devices that extended the sculptural investigation logically within implicit sculptural practice
  • produced work that utilised formal sculptural concerns to drive conceptual elements within the body of work
  • presented a moving image submission that used efficient video documentation of time-based sculptural work.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • presented a body of work that asserted ownership of a sculptural investigation within established sculptural practice
  • referenced a wide range of established sculptural practice within a personal conceptual framework
  • developed traditional sculptural ideas into a wide range of complex and innovative sculptural outcomes
  • understood how materiality, scale, and site influences sculptural outcomes
  • employed a clear conceptual framework to investigate a range of sculptural processes
  • used formal sculptural language as a tool to drive the conceptual issues within the work
  • utilised a strategic approach to extend ideas and synthesise sculptural conventions
  • used editing and hierarchy of size of images to accentuate the sculptural proposition.

Standard-specific comments

The work presented for assessment this year in Sculpture was of an exceptionally high level. Candidates presented authentic sculptural activity that was ambitious, yet manageable in the secondary school environment. There was a genuine and intuitive approach to making work that most candidates used to demonstrate a real ownership of sculptural activity at this level. Many candidates investigated ideas linked to contemporary issues of identity, social media, or environmental issues such as plastics in our environment and climate change. Where this was successful, candidates ensured that sculptural activity was at the centre of this questioning. These submissions did not preach a message to the audience. Instead, they asked questions through sculptural exercises involving repetition, scale and/or material shift to explore ideas of a logical extreme within sculpture. Often humour was utilised as a conceptual augmentation of the political. The use of the object within surrealist subject matter was a methodology that many candidates employed with great success. Candidates who used readily available materials, processes and sites enjoyed the flexibility and efficacy of fundamental sculptural activity.

Candidates who successfully made site-specific, real-world installations, performances or social actions used concise contextual written information under the photo-documentation on the folio boards. Candidates are encouraged to ensure that all such work has this contextual information supplied in small text boxes with basic dimensional, material, site, and durational information. This allows examiners to better understand the real-world context of the sculptural work presented.

It is pleasing to see candidates engage in thorough research of established sculptural practice. This allows candidates to present work that has honesty, conviction, and an aesthetic currency beyond those who merely replicate artist models’ work.

Schools that used class programmes that predetermined the sculptural exploration conceptually and technically were less successful as these negated the candidates’ ability to employ critical analysis of ideas.

Most moving image format submissions engaged in genuine sculptural time-based activity. Successful candidates took simple sculptural actions and developed these into more complex durational performances or kinetic works. They also provided very clear and concise textual information within the conventions of time-based work documentation to allow examiners to understand the work in all its richness. It was pleasing to see culturally located thinking around collaborative practice in both site and the cultural traditions of making, such as those of the Pasifika communities. The use of multi-screen video to show more than one view or time frame of the same performance or kinetic work allowed for a very efficient use of this assessment format.

Visual Arts subject page

Previous years' reports
2018 (PDF, 197KB) 2017 (PDF, 85KB) 2016 (PDF, 261KB)

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