Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
Visual Arts 2017

Standards 93306  93307  93308  93309  93310

93307:  Design

Part A: Commentary

In 2017, Scholarship Design included an excellent range of briefs that were inspired by insightful personal experiences or national/global issues. These enquires used ‘design thinking’ and ‘design methodologies’ to locate authentic solutions and propose visual and media influences that brought about new understandings of subject, audience, content, concept and context. Candidatesembraced briefs and relevant contexts with enthusiasm and commitment – reinforcing the extensive diversity of approach. This attitude naturally infiltrated fluid and thoughtful design propositions, which resulted in clever ideas and thinking.

The marking panel commented on the genuineness of the type of design topics being explored; they believed this garnered authentic and original ideas. It is heartening to see candidates fully immersed in this way as it enables them to juggle technical facility with the conceptual, as well as to position a methodology that is in alignment with the type of engagement and specificities of the brief and topic.

The candidates described here are driving a research enquiry, which allows them to manage a deep understanding of content. Their research translates into a massive bank of drawings, source and ideas. This includes lots of drawings (not just a few): photos, experiments, illustrations, crafting, 3d modelling; and a variety of media, colour pencil, crayon, felt-tip pens and digital stills with film. Drawing is also used to expand, make links, reform, refuel and to move into the unknown in order to take stock, stop, reflect and make again. High performing candidates recognise the need for these kinds of iterative processes that are obviously highly analytical and reflective, and have the potential to create a personal experiential relationship to topic. 

Overall, the work ethic that operated in Design was a standout feature with the level of productivity particularly high. There was a noticeable increase in the quality of the workbooks, in that they weren’t just a description of what had occurred in process. The personal voice was apparent within workbooks, but also in the way that briefs inventively explored topics that were relevant and of interest to candidates. This meant that submissions were fuelled by ideas and that the folio work didn’t end on the last board, but had the potential keep going.

Scholarship requires a candidate to be lateral, inventive and to take risks. In Design, this means operating with a work ethic and willingness to be experimental and exploratory, and to manage trans- and multi-disciplinary modes of research, media and enquiry to enhance experience, message, adoption, education and meaning.

Part B: Report on performance standard

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • integrated and synthesise references and context in an interactive and sequential way; akin to a journalist who forms a solid linear inquiry and in parallel, entertains creative leads and synopses to uncover new links and dimensions
  • had expert technical control over media, visual language and format, which evidenced their prowess of design conventions and took the audience on a visual journey
  • were deeply invested in their subject and thus engaged in boundary pushing into other disciplines as they constantly mined for new devices, strategies and concepts
  • focused and edited the presentation of learning; they oozed attention to detail and fluidity of craft along with decisions about layout and format of folios, demonstrating a deep investment in all phases of a design project.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • had a good understanding of the power of drawing/ photo/ type/ icono/ graphic/ digital/ interactive methods to unfold and develop intelligent solutions
  • explored the next phase of research as a means to develop conceptual links, and as an opportunity to further test and develop new approaches in order to build on previous success and findings
  • demonstrated a confidence in regard to visual cues and language; they started to analyse and synthesise the crafting and handling of design conventions and treatments to exploit fluency and communication
  • were connected to their topic and sustained a genuine inquiry, plus were invested and willing to commit to all of the phases of a design practice: to engage in the field of design, to embrace iterative process, media, materiality, research and to know subject/topic and audience.  

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • showed a lack of understanding of the conventions they are employing, which was usually due in part to a lack of research, ideas and the content knowledge needed to engage meaningfully in a design practice
  • did not identify a theme, topic or a thematic that they could respond to, which revealed a lack of viewpoint or research
  • were linear and literal in their approach to ideas, media and visual language, allowing little space for any sort of design thinking, risk taking or image-generating activities
  • worked with pre-determined formats that slowed down the enquiry and disabled any ability to be lateral or inventive in relationship to subject, ideas or enquiry.



 

93306:  Painting

Part A: Commentary

In 2017, Scholarship Painting had an astoundingly high percentage of Level 3 Excellence entries. There are more candidates taking risks and engaging in enquiries beyond the figurative, considerate of the potential for painting to communicate a story, narrative, formal investigation or theoretical study outside of the pictorial. Abstraction as a core topic was dealt with in sophisticated ways that surpassed the standard.

A real strength for many was the employment of technical expertise appropriate to the conceptual emphasis of selected topics. There appears to be a stronger level of control over paint and drawing media, giving the work authority over its subject matter and subsequent conceptualisation. The handling of paint through explorative application and clever reference to the world of painting provided a new depth of investigation and enquiry, highlighting the intellectual endeavour of the study being undertaken.

Many candidates are thinking about how they can better resource their starting points. Thus, they are finding original solutions to challenges they set themselves. If they wanted to pose something fresh or create different compositions, some would re-photograph to get a new angle or create a diorama or three-dimensional option. Candidates are also painting in varying sizes and scales as appropriate to their subject matter or style of painting – and as such, larger works were often documented for the folio. Discreet captions were useful in these instances, especially for contextual information in regard to scale or site.

There were some strong folio presentations that engaged in what the panel called a ‘passion project’ – these often related to personal contexts and linked disciplines such as literature, science, mathematics through art. This uptake demonstrated an understanding of the wider world and the importance of selecting a topic that enables a critical journey.

Painting workbooks revealed a richness of research and the intensity of a candidate’s engagement with their topic. When writing was dense in the workbook, it was useful to have key points highlighted or emphasised, clarifying perceived critical points in the investigation. Many also explored new means of managing the workbook in ways that were closely aligned to the proposition, ie a narrative-oriented folio might adapt a storytelling mode in the workbook.

Scholarship requires a candidate to be lateral, inventive and to take risks. In Painting, this means testing and trialling composition, scale relations, selection of media, figure field relations, development of characters, motifs and mark making related to the conceptual enquiry. Candidates achieving Scholarship always maintain a high level of fluency in their chosen painting medium – oil, watercolour and acrylic throughout the enquiry.

Note: the marking panel recommends presenting work on white folio boards – black backgrounds can distract from effectively reading the work and sometimes compromise the subtlety and nuance of tone and colour in the paintings.

Part B: Report on performance standard

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • fully engaged with the proposition and had a strong sense of ownership and intent, which continued to drive the work forward, constantly reflecting on and questioning outcomes
  • clearly articulated ideas and were original and innovative in the combination of ideas with paint
  • extended the practice beyond the folio into further painting, often due to research across other fields and side projects that went on to inform the painting proposition
  • showed a consistently high level of ability to critique their own work and identify the best options for moving forward.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • demonstrated consistent skills in their chosen approaches to painting, which were developed and extended through the making
  • had ownership of a clear proposition that had meaning for them personally, and was evidenced through active engagement with the topic
  • used their own photo shoots to create compositions and document processes that were outside of folio work
  • arrived at new work without a predetermined outcome through sustained exploration and investigation across the folio and workbook.

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • described in the workbook the process evident on the folio, often with biographical information relating to artists looked at, rather than a reflection on why they were important to the making process
  • lacked an engagement with an idea or proposition that underlaid the making of their work
  • showed a limited understanding of how to successfully synthesise a range of different approaches in their paintings
  • presented a lack of analysis or reflection on their making process, or established practice examples that were identified as being of interest.



 

93310:  Photography

Part A: Commentary

In 2017, Scholarship Photography further extended the range of approaches being utilised to develop astounding and rigorous propositions where the candidate’s voice is ‘clearly seen’.This included formal conceptual propositions from narrative and storytelling to intellectual enquiries that drew on photographic tropes and associate conceptual terrain. Propositions that are conceptual and link into contemporary art practice were able to generate independent enquiries. It also helps if candidates have prior knowledge or a reason for approaching their selected topic. 

Owning the territory of the proposition is key; if it is documentary-focused then the subject matter and strategies employed need to be cognisant of the conventions that belong to that approach. Many of the entries clearly identified conventions and photographic language from the outset, which in turn supported candidates’ ability to be exploratory and lateral and to be open to unexpected developments. There has also been an increase in the use of film cameras; these are being used purposely with candidates thinking about why they are using analogue and what the conceptual implications are, i.e. the time it takes is precious to the maker and they are aware of how to manipulate process to engage ideas that relate methodologically to their subject and viewpoint.

In many cases, the folio is a selected and edited part of a much larger body of work. There was a high degree of personal engagement evident throughout the field; they are not just making work, they are embedded in their own cultural milieu. This includes thorough referencing to art and related contexts to create a platform of existent knowledge. Workbooks that really unpacked processes of thinking gave a better sense of the level of engagement, as did concurrent recording which ensured a more authentic voice and enquiry. 

Candidates demonstrated a breadth of knowledge about contemporary art, but were not reliant on artists’ practice to have their own next idea. At the top levels, as with the other visual arts subjects, the candidate often transitions from a programme to art practice, ie they have already established a position in the field and are making art within that zone. It was good to see candidates appropriately working with their topics. For example, research needs to support the enquiry whether that is personal experience or authentic research, such as, if they are making work about the homeless, then speaking to the people that they are making work about is key. It was good to see candidates taking up an ethical stance around their chosen topics and advocating for the people or subject involved.

Scholarship requires a candidate to be lateral, inventive and to take risks. In Photography, this means being selective through seeing, framing, composition, lighting, viewpoint, colour, being tactical about devices employed, and manipulating imagery to communicate what are often complex and theoretically driven ideas.

Note: the marking panel would like to encourage the use of titling or captions on the folio where topics and concepts are time-based or durational or sit within social art practice/ participatory art contexts. Without this information, the conceptual nuance is sometimes lost to the detriment of the work.

Part B: Report on performance standard

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • evidenced an authentic engagement with a project where they entered into their proposition at a high point, generating both personal and conceptual ideas intelligently
  • operated with an intensive degree of trial and error through the production of a large volume of work, indicative of the level of commitment they had for their project
  • engaged a clear and consistent level of editing to enable strong communication in both the folio and workbook
  • were conversant with their ideas throughout the many stages and progress of their work, rather than providing step-by-step detail of each panel of the folio.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • engaged in making that was not only limited to the digital medium, but was used with alternatives while still retaining purpose to their project
  • utilised contextual research that was pertinent to the fluidity between the folio and workbook
  • held their enquiry throughout the entire submission and continually searched for new ideas 
  • thought independently, providing research that rationalised why they approached their project with particular methods and strategies
  • referenced examples of established practice in the workbooks, including ‘other’ interests that further supported the proposition.

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • presented a synopsis of what was on the folio, which consumed three of the eight workbook pages; often to the point of labouring all of the detail on an emotional level
  • made work that was formulaic and template-driven, providing less active and intellectually engaged outcomes that then raised questions about the candidate’s authenticity and engagement
  • provided a very prescriptive response by using other artists’ work to emulate and support their proposition
  • demonstrated limited capacity to expand and seek new ideas, as most often the underlying concept did not offer enough scope and advancement to allow for experimentation and risk.


 

93309:  Printmaking

Part A: Commentary

In 2017, Scholarship Printmaking presented an adventurous field of entries. There is no doubt that those engaging with the Print medium are passionate about the processes and methods they are using to make work. It is exciting to see such an incredible level of engagement and industry.

Many candidates manipulated print methods to extend the way in which they produced their images. For instance, some candidates used process like it was media, such as putting prints through the press several times (rather than just using a technique to execute an image). This exploitation demonstrated an incredible understanding and control of the medium, with candidates recognising how to manipulate process (ink, plates, press) in ways that built images through layering of ink and different combinations of print methods. Consequently, there were some great examples of print innovation, such as intricate embossing as well as submissions using straightforward and affordable processes like monoprints, stencils or collagraphs (cardboard prints) in sophisticated and sensitive ways.

Personal connections create authenticity. As with all of the Visual Arts subjects, it was good to see such a high level of ownership achieved through self-reflection and analysis, often with a personal investment in the subject matter. Workbooks supported enquiries and reaffirmed or accelerated beyond the folio.

Across the field, there was a strong sense of intentionality evidenced through effective ordering and editing of the work on the folio to support the conceptual. Colour was used confidently and with purpose (symbolically or to add to ideas and concepts) along with sensitive use of tonal shifts, limited palette, transparent veils and layering to convey ideas and concepts. Candidates are mixing their own colours, considerate of saturation and conceptual relations, and areusing colour intelligently to unfold pictorial propositions.

It was also excellent to see carefully considered layouts and varying scales of works presented on the folio. This attention created fluidity, but also enabled effective reading of the work in line with proposition intent. There was also a fluid integration of traditional print media alongside digital or photographic-based processes with the two seamlessly woven together. Candidates found a real connection between ideas and image making, print conventions and using the characteristics of the selected print method to push the idea. They know the media they used and exploited it.

Scholarship requires a candidate to be lateral, inventive and to take risks. In Printmaking, this means the candidate must recognise the best type of method to utilise, be patient and sympathetic to the process, develop new plates and images, etc. and relate process to concept.

Part B: Report on performance standard 

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • showed personal ownership through an exceptionally high level of exploration, self-reflection, risk taking and critical analysis 
  • thought deeply in establishing a complex proposition with significance to them personally, based on individual stylistic interests
  • explored a depth and range of ideas intelligently, producing a large number of considered works, building on strengths through questioning and informed decision-making in an interconnected relationship between the folio and workbook
  • demonstrated a high level of technical fluency through strong drawing skills and innovative use of printmaking and other processes to continually search and investigate related ideas and possibilities.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • established a broad proposal that sustained an ongoing investigation and enabled the development of depth and a wide range of ideas
  • revealed thorough, sustained and engaged research in workbooks that offered testing, related ideas from other fields, analysis of own work/ reflection of unsuccessful works, own photographs, synthesis of ideas from established/contemporary practice, technical explorations, collages, thumbnail studies, purposeful experiments on different surfaces, new works and future possibilities
  • showed a strength in drawing and produced prints that consistently demonstrated a very high level of technical skill and fluency, either intuitively integrating a number of processes or mastering of a single process.

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • took too long to establish and communicate ideas/concepts, thus impacting on the potential to offer a range of options and extension possibilities
  • used descriptive language and images of folio works in the workbook, creating a commentary in the past tense of what was done
  • included images, descriptions and thorough analysis of other artists’ works with little reference to how and why these informed their own thinking and artmaking 
  • limited the potential for development and extension of ideas due to the large scale of some print works (particularly on the third panel), or presented a series of similar works repeatedly dealing with the same pictorial concerns and plates.


 

93308:  Sculpture

Part A: Commentary

In 2017, Scholarship Sculpture profiled the best of the Level 3 field with many candidates engaging in sophisticated and solid sculptural propositions. These included ‘to-scale’ projects with a focus on site, object, material, colour, installation and performance – in relation to subject areas that were a mix of personal, formal, conceptual and theoretical. 

Many of the enquiries were ambitious, particularly with scale; candidates selectively chose to work in scales that reinforced the conceptual. For instance, if the proposition was based in a particular site such as an architectural environment, then the scale of intervention, placement or construction worked with that register in order to activate the work or move the practice forward. If the practice required durational making, such as a particular type of crafting, the candidate committed the time. This led to high-level technical engagement in material thinking.

Overall, the comprehension of sculptural conventions has intensified. Candidates are demonstrating the level of their knowledge by making works that are convincing and reflective of the intellectual neighbourhood they draw upon. This includes contemporary art, but also contexts that characterise their study such as humour, irony, science, literature, film, politics, etc.

It was noted that candidates were not limited by what they thought they didn’t know. They ‘had a go’ and took risks, tested, trialled and made ‘things’ in ways that expressed their enthusiasm for making, process and production of objects, spaces and performance. Where appropriate, documentation was utilised as an active part of the work to open up durational and performative aspects, social art practice and community engagement. The field of Sculpture offers a breadth of practices that situate social, political, cultural and ecological ideas at the centre of theoretical discourse. It is good to see candidates grappling with a range of practices that mirror what is happening in contemporary art.

Scholarship requires a candidate to be lateral, inventive and to take risks. In Sculpture, this means considering the impact of scale, pushing materials beyond their limitations, embracing the technical, considering aesthetics materially and thinking through object, space and site relationships.

Note: the marking panel would like to encourage the use of titling or captions on the folio where topics and concepts are time-based or durational or sit within social art practice/ participatory art contexts. Without this information, the conceptual nuance is sometimes lost to the detriment of the work.

Part B: Report on performance standard 

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • took ownership of a clearly identified yet open-ended investigation utilising a range of sculptural practice modes with ease
  • used critically edited photo-documentation to extend the possibilities of potential next steps of sculptural activity
  • understood the role of the audience in activating the sculptural work in an authentic and often ambitious scale
  • took pleasure in referencing and manipulating a large range of established artistic practice. 

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • presented a range of practical research within the workbook that was well-edited to ensure a critical contextual background for the work on the folio
  • developed a rich proposition through analysis of established sculptural practice that advanced the possibilities of the work in a range of modes of practice
  • employed a strategic attitude to methods and ideas in the making of work that allowed for the creation of a cohesive and expansive body of work
  • understood scale, materiality and site as critical elements for articulating ideas within sculptural practice.

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • lacked a range of appropriate artist models, or developed work by superficially referencing established practice without criticality
  • re-presented images of sculptural work from the folio in the workbook, which offered no additional evidence and do not advance the sculptural proposition
  • made arbitrary comments about the intention of the work presented on the folio, or suggested the meaning of the work in written form when it was clearly not evident in the sculptural work
  • engaged in a limited range of material processes and techniques that restrained them from expanding the proposition.

   

Subject page

 

Previous years' reports
2016 (PDF, 238KB)

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