First Class 21 launches at MAC yapang

Published on 01 March 2022

LMCC _ Lila mid with work.jpg

The impact of COVID-19 on the emotional and mental health of young people has emerged as a prominent theme in a new exhibition of art by some of the Hunter and Central Coast’s top 2021 HSC Visual Arts students.

The 14th annual First Class exhibition at the Museum of Art and Culture, yapang, in Lake Macquarie showcases the works of 47 talented local artists, with a wide variety of visual imagery and techniques on display.

Sunday’s exhibition opening will feature live music, a young artisan marketplace, art-making activities and food and drink stalls.

Exhibition Curator Helen Willis said many featured artists had “turned inwards” to explore the impact of the pandemic and express them in their works.

“Themes of family, memories and the importance of home are distinctive concepts predominant in these times,” she said.

“Intimate works explore complex connections to home and identity, youth, personal relationships and culture.”

Ms Willis said some of the students in the exhibition had examined the human condition through their work, questioning their place in this world.

“A deep connection to nature is also explored, with symbolic interpretations commenting on environmental impacts and ecological responsibilities,” she said.

Former Merewether High School HSC student Lili Sabine’s work includes eight paper and cardboard sculptures, each representing derogatory language aimed at women in today’s society.

“I’ve noticed many subtle aggressions towards women just through language and tone,” she said.

“I really find that affects me personally a lot and I really wanted to make the main focus of my work. I’m trying to encourage the audience to analyse how they exist in society and how they communicate. Not only how they communicate, but how they receive media.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser congratulated the students included in this year’s exhibition.

“Once again, we see the thoughts and feelings of young people expressed so beautifully and creatively through art,” she said.

“First Class never fails to astound me with the young talent we have in our community, and the connection our young people have with the issues that affect us all.”

MAC Curator Courtney Wagner commended the bravery of students “to share their experiences through the visual language of art”.

“I congratulate these students not only on the quality of work that they have produced but also the courage to share their experiences through the visual language of art,” she said.

Also opening on the weekend is a separate exhibition titled Political Women, bringing together artists from diverse cultural, generational, personal and artistic perspectives to illustrate and celebrate the complexity of feminist discourse and the art made within it.

Both exhibitions are open until Sunday 8 May. Go to for more information.


Image: Student artist Lili Sabine of Merewether High School, with her artwork (Quiet) The Men are Speaking, 2021 (detail).⁣ Papier-mâché, cardboard, plastic, newspaper, wood, hessian, tissue paper, acrylic paint, wire, gauze⁣ dimensions variable.⁣




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