VCA ART 2020

Introduction from Simone Slee (Video Transcript)

Hello, my name is Simone Slee, I am the Head of VCA Art and I welcome you to the inaugural VCA Art 2020 online website. Before I commence, I wish to acknowledge the land on which the VCA is located. Here at Southbank in Melbourne, we are on the unceded lands of the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation. In pre-Covid times, we would have been here working and making art. However, for almost the entire duration of this academic year, our community has been spread across Australia and for some of us across the world. Collectively we have been working on many different First Nations’ country and I would like to pay my deep respect to their ancestors and to their elders both past, present and emerging.

2020 has brought unexpected changes to our world. This catalogue represents VCA Art’s 9 graduating cohorts navigating these changes: Sculpture; Photography; Drawing and Printmaking; Painting; the Honours program; the Graduate Certificate in Visual Art; the Master of Contemporary Art and the two research programs: the Master of Fine Arts and the PhD cohorts – over 150 students and graduate researchers. In this catalogue you will witness the astonishing artwork produced during isolation and the truly remarkable achievement of installing this work in the VCA Art spaces across our Southbank campus as we precariously emerged from Melbourne’s 112 days of hard lockdown.

This catalogue represents unshakable creativity, resilience, tenacity, generosity, courage and commitment to art and the unknown places it may take you despite this year’s circumstances.

This year has cemented my belief that in times of crisis contemporary art is more urgent than ever before. It enables understandings previously unthought, it tells our stories and brings to the forefront questions of what it is to be human. Here you will find artworks that provoke questions that aren’t always easy; questions that rupture notions of personal and social identity; artistic strategies of decolonisation and reassessing our sense of place; reflections on intimacy, relationships and imagination in times of isolation; perspectives on the value, humour and beauty of small everyday moments to the grand narratives of social connectivity and the environment.

I wish to wholeheartedly congratulate and thank all of our students and graduate researchers. I am exceptionally inspired and thrilled to have the VCA represent you. I would also like to thank the VCA Art and Faculty staff whose commitment and untiring work enabled this catalogue and installation to occur. And also, a special tribute to our graduating cohort’s families, friends and loved ones, whose unfailing support also enabled these extraordinary achievements.

In addition to the exceptional work of our graduating cohort, the VCA Art and Faculty staff, there many individuals to acknowledge that unfortunately cannot all be mentioned here. I would like to thank our Director Prof Barb Bolt, and the VCA Art Foundation Enrichment Grant which made this catalogue possible. I would also like to thank our catalogue designers: Jack Loel and Jack Fowler for this most beautiful website and pay my thanks to the Art Catalogue Team: Dr David Sequeira, Kylie White, Vikki McInnes, Dr Mark Shorter and Alex Walker. I also extend my thanks to the External Relations team at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne for their ongoing support. I am also grateful to the enthusiasm and generosity of the international curators and artists who offered to provide tours of this website. We are honoured to be associated with you. Thank you to our donors and industry professionals whose generous awards and artist opportunities have been more important in this time of Covid than ever before. And finally, to return to Alex Walker. I would like to make a very special thanks to her tireless work project managing the operation of this website with deft grace and skill, as well as the support provided by Ashley Perry in this extraordinary endeavour.

Finally, I would like to make a special acknowledgment to our recently past and beloved colleague and Head of VCA Art, the late Associate Professor Kate Daw. Her unyielding support, love of the VCA Art students and staff gave us great courage and clarity in the early days of Covid and helped imagine what this website and exhibition might look like today.

Exhibition Walkthrough

Due to COVID-19 restrictions only a limited number of staff, students and visitors were able to see the installed exhibition. Filmmaker Stephen McCallum was commissioned to document all 450+ works in the show and edited this short clip to give our audience a sense of the exhibition. The works were installed across the Southbank campus in late-2020 in the Art Studios, The Stables, The Octagon, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA ArtSpace and Theatre Studio. The music accompanying the clip was composed by final year Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) student Phil Tucker, its haunting style aptly reflects the empty studio spaces and their works.


Pavel Pyś

This tour takes as its thread the events of 2020, one of the most tumultuous years of the recent past. The works gathered here explore some of the most pressing concerns we face today. View Tour →

Melissa Keys
Ghosting notes

Elusive, muted and indeterminant, ghost notes in music have rhythm but no pitch—they suggest silence without being silent. View Tour →

Jennifer Higgie
The Mind's Eye

Robust manifestations of myriad imaginations, of artists moving through the world and interpreting it. View Tour →



The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) involves completion of a substantial piece of original research, demonstrating ability to communicate research findings effectively in professional arenas and international contexts. In most cases the thesis includes a body of exceptional artwork and a substantial written paper. It is a rigorous and sustained piece of work showing a research 'apprenticeship' is complete and admitting the holder to the community of scholars in the discipline.

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Dr Laura Woodward (Head)
Dr Simone Slee
Jeremy Eaton
L Hermosilla

Master of Fine Art

The Master of Fine Arts (Visual Art) is a two-year masters program that extends an artist’s potential for academic research. This studio-based program facilitates and develops mastery in the chosen field of practice and contributes to a deeper understanding of contemporary artistic practice, cultural theory and discourse more broadly. The practice-led MFA culminates in a substantial piece of original research that generally comprises a body of creative work and a written dissertation.

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Vikki McInnes (Acting Head)
Dr Laura Woodward
Dr Simone Slee
Dr Edward Colless
L Hermosilla

Master of Contemporary Art

The Master of Contemporary Art program serves as a bridge between undergraduate study and independent art practice. This coursework program prepares students to develop a professional art practice, situate their practice within contemporary art contexts, and gain important networks in a supportive community of staff, artists and industry professionals. The course encourages experimentation, speculation and engaged dialogue with staff and students in an independent studio setting. In the second year, students identify an area of research to investigate and undertake a year-long studio project. Throughout the degree, students undertake a range of professional opportunities including graduate intensives, group and solo exhibitions, and local and international travel.

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Dr Kate Just (Head)
Dr Kim Donaldson
Dr Masato Takasaka
Dr Hoda Afshar
Steven Rhall
Eugenia Lim


The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Degree with Honours) is an esteemed program designed to support students wishing to develop research skills and deepen understandings of contemporary artistic practice and related theoretical discourse. With an emphasis on independent artistic research and devising and managing a major creative project, this dynamic program prepares candidates for advanced critical and creative thinking and problem solving. Honours is located in The Stables, a world class teaching and learning facility at the heart of Melbourne’s arts precinct and with strong connections to a diverse range of professional partnerships and networks. Academic staff within the program are leading artists, theorists and curators in their field.

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Dr Cate Consandine (Head)
Dr Sean Lowry
Dr Tessa Laird
Nadine Christensen
Dr Chris Bond
Dr Renee Ugazio
Dr Masato Takasaka
Alicia Frankovich
Archie Barry
Kellie Wells

Graduate Certificate of Visual Art

The Graduate Certificate in Visual Art is a part-time course that facilitates practical and theoretical frameworks for studio workshops, complimented by studies in art history and theory. As it is graduate level, GCVA students can choose to work in painting, drawing, digital technologies, printmaking, sculpture, installation, performance or photography, and/or a combination of the above. Throughout the year formal group critiques and individual discussions encourage critical reflection on the works made. The Graduate Certificate in Visual Art is designed for students who have completed a degree and wish to further develop their skills in the visual arts.

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John Meade
André Piguet
Corinna Berndt
Eugenia Lim
Dr Hoda Afshar
Sharon Goodwin
Kellie Wells
Hayden Stuart

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drawing & Printmaking)

This program is taught in an immersive, studio and workshop-based environment. It enhances the development of technical and conceptual skills across a wide range of methodologies and provides you with the skills to pursue the practice of a professional working artist. It also allows you to critically engage in the debates of contemporary visual art.

Within the specialisation you will develop your imaging skills by practicing a range of drawing and printmaking methodologies. You will employ a variety of experimental strategies using new and traditional technologies to develop innovative visual solutions. You will also develop an in-depth understanding and knowledge of drawing and printmaking practice within historical, contemporary and theoretical contexts and gain artistic independence to develop a professional attitude toward studio practice.

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Dr Alex Martinis Roe (Head)
Dr Mark Dustin
Julie Irving
Stieg Persson
Irene Hanenbergh
Sharon Goodwin
Tony Garifalakis
Nadine Christensen
Damiano Bertoli
Tim Buckovic
Deborah Williams
Prudence Flint
Adrian Kellet

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)

Painting is taught in an immersive, studio-based environment. Reflecting the diversity of contemporary art practice, it supports independent and conceptually innovative practice. By developing technical and conceptual methodologies students gain a sound knowledge of traditional and contemporary painting skills, techniques and concepts.

With the practice of critical analysis, students become more confident in the expression of their own visual ideas and observations. Students learn about the historical, contemporary and theoretical context in which they work.

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Dr Raafat Ishak (Head)
Dr Lisa Radford
Dr Stephen Haley
Yhonnie Scarce
Nick Selenitsch
Darren Sylvester
Chris Hill
Georgina Cue
Simon McGlinn

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Photography)

These days anyone and everyone takes photos. But what is a photo and what is the photographic? How do you ‘think’ through the practice of photography to make artworks? How do you apply photographic thinking to develop artworks even without a camera?

Photography at the VCA will challenge you to consider these questions and more as you undergo an immersive experience in contemporary photographic practice and theory. Photography’s history will meet yours as you pursue your own questions and attitudes through making. In a studio-based learning environment we encourage independent exploration using various techniques including black and white darkroom photography, colour darkroom printing, digital imaging and the projected image in installation. With these and many other methods of making you will discover what a photograph can become. And the kind of artist you have become.

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Dr Sanja Pahoki (Head)
Dr Kiron Robinson
Lou Hubbard
Darren Sylvester
Christo Crocker
Lucy Foster
Siri Hayes
Eliza Dyball
Aaron Rees
Simon Zoric
Rebecca Ann Hobbs
Dr Chantal Faust
Dr Emmanuel Rodriguez
Norbert Loeffler

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture)

Sculpture is where we test material, any material, your material.

Material comes from our body; our place and our time, from a history, from a cultural memory, or the all to present future. Material suggests, reflects, cascades, shatters, lingers, transforms, protrudes and disappears. It pulls you in and pushes you away. We circle material, develop new techniques, strategies and languages that challenge established knowledge. Material is supported, physically politically and intellectually by space, place and context, but let’s not go there right now, let’s stay with material and the impossibility of pinning it down.

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Dr Mark Shorter (Head)
Claire Lambe
Archie Barry
Atlanka Eke
Aleks Danko
George Egerton-Warburton
Debris Facility
Jacqueline Felstead
Rosie Isaac
Daniel Jenatsch
James Nguyen
Makiko Yamamoto

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which our campus is situated, the people of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung, who have created art, made music and told their stories here for thousands of generations. We also acknowledge and extend our respect to the Traditional Owners of all lands on which our work is viewed, shared and enjoyed, and to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

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