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Artwork by Alexia Psaltis

Art student gets Subsumed


Newcastle Herald

February 10th, 2015.

Reproduced with permission of The Newcastle Herald ©Copyright 2015

Alexia is the daughter of Peter and Sheri Psaltis, who live in Newcastle, and granddaughter of the late George Psaltis and Alexandra Psaltis (nee, Feros), of Gilgandra, and later Earlwood.

ALEXIA Psaltis’ hair-raising expeditions squeezing through fences to photograph abandoned industrial sites have paid off, culminating in an eye-catching piece selected to hang in the Art Gallery of NSW.

The 2014 dux of Hunter School of the Performing Arts is the woman behind Subsumed, which has been selected for Artexpress, a showcase of the best works of art completed by NSW students as part of last year’s Higher School Certificate.

Of the 219 works selected for exhibitions in galleries across the state, only 37 have been selected for inclusion in the exclusive Art Gallery of NSW exhibit.

‘‘When I heard, I was jumping around in excitement, it was the best feeling,’’ Ms Psaltis said.

‘‘Out of all of my HSC achievements, that’s the one that really stood out to me.’’

Ms Psaltis’ work explores the paradox of Newcastle’s heavy industry sitting alongside its pristine coast.

It comprises six surrealistic portraits of female figures, representing Mother Nature, being consumed by industrial structures, objects and landscapes that convey destruction and invasion.

Each portrait includes layers of hundreds of photos she captured from both active and abandoned industrial sites including Kooragang Island, Cockatoo Island and around Hexham and Maitland.

‘‘I visited quite a few deserted and unused machinery yards where there was equipment that had rusted and been left to rot,’’ she said.

‘‘It was a bit scary going into the abandoned sites, but I just squeezed through holes in fences.

‘‘The portraits represent how physical, spiritual and psychological identity is threatened by industrialisation, which removes individual human inspiration and imagination.

‘‘We now face a future of surreal, stunted landscapes.’’

Ms Psaltis also completed major works in English Extension II, Music and Society and Culture and was named on the All-round Achievers list for receiving marks in the highest band possible for 10 or more units.

She began her combined law and arts degree at the University of Newcastle in February 2015.

Artexpress at the Art Gallery of NSW will open to the public from Thursday.

The remaining works selected for Artexpress will be on display in venues across the state throughout the remainder of the year.

The exhibition will come to Maitland Regional Art Gallery between September 11 and November 1.

Rationale of the artwork

Alexia Psaltis
Hunter School of the Performing Arts


Prints to Breathing Colour Velvet paper

Subsumed is a series of portraits representing the threat to physical, spiritual and psychological identity from rampant industrialisation. The portraits identify how the dominance of industry removes individual human inspiration and imagination. We face a future of surreal, stunted landscapes populated by impaired humanity, symbolised by the replacement of human physicality with machinery. I photographed all the images of industrial structures, objects and landscapes that convey destruction and invasion. I layered these eclectic images with the human portraits to represent the unchecked, pervasive presence of industrial processes in our lives. We are consumed by industry and its detritus.

What is ArtExpress?

ARTEXPRESS is an annual exhibition of artworks created by students from government and non-government schools for the Higher School Certificate Examination in Visual Arts. The works demonstrate exceptional quality across a broad range of subject matter, approaches, styles and media including painting, photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, documented forms, textiles and fibre, ceramics, digital animation, film and video, and collections of works.

ARTEXPRESS represents the high standards and diversity achieved by Year 12 Visual Arts students in New South Wales schools.

The continued excellence of the annual ARTEXPRESS exhibition is the outcome of a rigorous Visual Arts curriculum that builds on study from Kindergarten through to Year 12.

Visual Arts is part of the core curriculum in primary school and junior high school and a popular elective for the Higher School Certificate examination.

Student assessment in Visual Arts for the Higher School Certificate is based on submission of a Body of Work plus a written examination. Each students develops their submission through a process, recorded in a Visual Arts Process Diary, which reflects the problem-solving approach of the practising artist.

Equally important especially at senior level, is critical study and art history which plays a crucial role in informing the artworks produced by students.

The works chosen for ARTEXPRESS are a representative selection from over 12,000 examination submissions and reflect not only the talent of the individual students, but also the strength of the curriculum and excellence of Visual Arts teaching in New South Wales schools.

ARTEXPRESS is shown at 9 metropolitan and regional venues in NSW.

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