VCA ART 2021

Introduction from Head of VCA Art (Video Transcript)

Welcome to the 2021 VCA Art online catalogue!

My name is Simone Slee and I am Head of Art at the Victorian College of the Arts. Before I commence, I wish to acknowledge that land on which the VCA campus is located – Southbank, in Melbourne – is on the unceded lands of the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. I would like to acknowledge and extend my respects to the traditional owners of these lands, and to all lands on which our artwork is made, viewed, shared and enjoyed, and to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

This year’s 2021 VCA Art online catalogue represents more than 170 students and graduating researchers from our nine cohorts: Sculpture, Photography, Painting, and Drawing and Printmaking, in the Honours, Graduate Certificate of Visual Art, Master of Contemporary Art, Masters of Fine Art and PhD programs. It also showcases the artwork of the 2021 Art Grad Show, installed on our beautiful campus.

In this catalogue you will see the outcomes of making art over the 262 days of lockdown that were endured in Melbourne. It is a testament to how our students and graduate researchers have continued to test, make, engage and wrestle with art in extremely uncertain circumstances. When possible, they have made art on campus; when needed, they have made art in lockdown. It has required hanging onto the hope of coming together to continue working as a community, and, despite wobbling at times, I am so impressed by our students, graduate researchers and staff for the way they have held their nerve. In doing so, they have demonstrated extraordinary tenacity, perseverance and an unyielding commitment to follow where art may lead. I would like to acknowledge that during this time our valued and loved colleague Damiano Bertoli, who was teaching the graduating Drawing and Printmaking students, passed away unexpectedly. You will see a tribute to him on that program page.

In this catalogue you will see artworks exploring the full spectrum, from raw and difficult truths to delight in everyday moments. Power inequities are interrogated: we see the brutalities of systemic racism and unconscious bias, the oppression of misogyny and patriarchy, assumptions of desire, the vulnerability of the environment and our planet. We see a view into other worlds, stories spanning the breadth of our cohorts, views outside the confines of our Melbourne lockdown rooms: other countries, other places, other methods of representation. We see places that we hold dear, which give us strength to carry forward. We see how screen and Zoom logics have constructed the world in which we live, and, equally, the unrelenting tactile need to make and be in ‘real life’. There is also joy and tension, from the macro to the micro, of families and loved ones, of light glistening on dew drops, and the simple truth and value of materials such as the soil that sustains us.

I congratulate this uniquely talented cohort. I could not be more impressed and moved by the work they have made under such difficult conditions. It is a complete inspiration. I would also like to extend my thanks to our graduates’ families and loved ones, who behind the scenes have given unfailing support. Making art is always bigger than just the artist!

We are delighted and honoured this year to have an esteemed group of international artists and curators provide tours of this website. We are honoured to be associated with them, and thank them for their generosity.

I thank the exceptionally committed VCA Art academics and technical staff, whose untiring work over the entire year has underpinned the extraordinary outcomes of our students. I am also grateful to staff from the Programs and Operations team. There are so many others that need to be acknowledged, which unfortunately I cannot fully mention here. But I would like to thank VCA Acting Director Professor Jane Davidson and, before her, Professor Barb Bolt; their support of VCA Art has been unwavering.

Many thanks go to my colleagues for their advice and curatorial eye on this catalogue, a particular thanks Dr David Sequeira and the exceptional support of the university’s Marketing and Communications team. I would also like to thank our catalogue designers Jack Loel and Jack Fowler for this most beautiful website, and our photographers Christo Crocker, Aaron Rees, Eliza Dyball and Lucy Foster for their ingenuity and extraordinary time management in documenting the artwork on campus in the 2021 Art Grad Show, and videographer Stephen McCallum for his beautiful work.

A very special thanks go to our donors and the industry professionals whose generous awards and artist opportunities have been more important than ever before. My final tribute and very special thanks must go to the wonderful Freya Pitt. Freya has been at the heart of this project. She has wielded her grace, patience, good humour, artistic eye and intelligence to bring the complex logistical exercise of this stunning catalogue together. Thank you, Freya.

And now, please enjoy!

Video filmed within the work of Constantine Virtanen within the 2021 VCA Art Graduate Exhibition.

Exhibition Walkthrough

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-2021 in the Art Studios, The Stables, The Octagon, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA ArtSpace and Theatre Studios. The soundtrack to this walkthrough was composed by Patrick Telfer, a graduate of VCA's interactive composition program.

On the graduate pages you will see beautiful photographic documentation taken by Christo Crocker, Aaron Rees, Lucy Foster and Eliza Dyball (under the moniker (ALEC).


Chantal Faust
Bodies in Space

The artists in this collection all represent in myriad forms the matter of figures in space and the space between bodies and the world. View Tour →

Katerina Teaiwa
Te Mananga - the journey

Where have you come from?
Where are you going? View Tour →

Adelita Husni Bey
[De]compositions and [un]severings

In making this selection I was drawn towards practices that spoke to the destabilizing effect of living through the current crisis, its forced isolation, its uneveness, tension and uprisings. View Tour →

Nur Shkembi
A wondrous thing

Contemporary art is a wondrous thing, not only because it holds what is beautiful, powerful, naïve, knowing, and at times that which is mundane, or even grotesque or frightening, but also because it is a necessary human function. View Tour →

José Da Silva

There’s the desire to hold onto time and bring forth past intimacies; indeterminate spaces, thresholds, and material transformations; the unremarkable and the everyday writ large. These works speak directly to my senses through the agency of memory. They have ignited all kinds of reveries. View Tour →

Emmanuel Rodriquez-Chaves
...a straight line towards the unknown

Is it a void, devouring everything that comes close? Or is it some mundane technical effect? It is not so simple to define. Lol. 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. A rigorous and sustained piece of work is presented indicating that the academic research process is complete, with the holder admitted to the community of scholars in the discipline.

View Program →


Dr John Meade (Head)
Dr Laura Woodward (on leave)
Jeremy Eaton

Master of Fine Art

The Master of Fine Arts (Visual Art) is a two-year program that extends an artist’s potential for academic research. This studio-based program facilitates and develops mastery in a 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 (Head)
Dr John Mead
Dr Tessa Laird
Jeremy Eaton

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 and speculation, as well as engaged dialogue with staff and students, in an independent studio setting. In the second year, students identify an area of research to investigate and they undertake a year-long studio project. Throughout the degree, students engage in a range of professional opportunities, including graduate intensives, group and solo exhibitions, and local and international travel.

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

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) degree is an esteemed program designed to support students wishing to develop research skills and deepen their 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 fields.

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Dr Cate Consandine (Head)
Lisa Radford
Dr Renee Ugazio
Dr Sean Lowry
Dr Tessa Laird
Abbra Kotlarczyk
Alicia Frankovich
Archie Barry
Eric Jong
Jess Milne

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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Jamie O'Connell (Head)
André Piguet
Corinna Berndt
Eugenia Lim
Dr Hoda Afshar
Sharon Goodwin

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drawing & Printmaking)

This program is taught by leading contemporary artists in immersive studio- and workshop-based environments, and it enables students to develop their own professional art practice. Students experiment with a wide range of approaches, including traditional drawing and print media as well as digital media, video, installation, performance and socially-engaged art. Students develop their material and conceptual methods in response to their interests, contextualised in relation to relevant historical and contemporary art practices and theory. Through their work, students address broader concerns, such as social and political issues, often drawing from other fields of knowledge. As genealogies of artistic practice, the fields of drawing and printmaking provide a foundation upon which students can invent the art practices of tomorrow.

Drawing and Printmaking staff and students dedicate their 2021 graduate show to the memory of our colleague and teacher Damiano Bertoli, who passed away in September this year. Damiano worked in our program for more than 20 years and touched the lives of hundreds of students during that time, including this year’s graduating cohort. His legacy will live on in their practices and those of our alumni.

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Dr Alex Martinis Roe (Head)
Dr Mark Dustin
Stieg Persson
Irene Hanenbergh
Adrian Kellet
Amrita Hepi
Briony Galligan
Damiano Bertoli
Deborah Williams
Ihab Balla
Katerina Teaiwa
Lauren Burrow
Masato Takasaka
Prudence Flint
Roberta Rich
Tony Garifalakis
Tristen Harwood
Therese Keogh

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) is taught in an immersive studio-based environment. Reflecting the diversity of contemporary art practice, the course 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.

Through the practice of critical analysis, students become more confident in expressing their own visual ideas and observations in light of the historical, contemporary and theoretical contexts in which they work.

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Dr Stephen Haley (Acting Head)
Dr Raafat Ishak (On leave)
Dr Lisa Radford
Yhonnie Scarce
Nick Selenitsch
Darren Sylvester
Chris Hill
Georgina Cue
Nadine Christensen
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?

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Photography) challenges students to consider these questions and more as they undergo an immersive experience in contemporary photographic practice and theory. Photography’s history meets the students’ own, as they pursue their own specific questions and attitudes through making. In a studio-based learning environment, independent exploration is encouraged using various techniques, including black-and-white darkroom photography, colour darkroom printing, digital imaging and the projected image in installation. These and many other methods of making enable the discovery of what a photograph can become – and the kind of artist one can be.

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Dr Sanja Pahoki (Head)
Dr Kiron Robinson
Dr Lou Hubbard
Aaron Rees
Christo Crocker
Clare Rae
Darren Sylvester
Dr Emmanuel Rodriguez
Janina Green
Dr Lani Seligman
Lauren Dunn
Liang Luscombe
Lucy Foster
Madeline Bishop
Martina Copley
Norbert Loeffler
Simon Zoric
Siri Hayes
Tamsen Hopkinson
Trent Crawford
Yandell Walton

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture)

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

Material comes from our body – our place and time, from a history, from a cultural memory, or the all-too-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
Aleks Danko
Debris Facility
Elizabeth Presa
George Egerton-Warburton
Rosie Isaac
Spencer Lai

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which our campus is situated, the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people of the Kulin Nations, 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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