Curating ArtRage 2023

Launceston College art teacher Scott Cunningham speaks to QVMAG curator Kate Davies in front of a student's body of photographic work

Image: QVMAG Curator Kate Davies with Launceston College art teacher, Scott Cunningham with the artwork of Lachie Snell, whose work Depth (2023) is featured in ArtRage 2023. Photo: QVMAG.

It's an enviable yet enormous task to curate ArtRage 2023. Fortunately, QVMAG Curator Kate Davies is up for the challenge. 

In a two-week period, she travelled across Tasmania to visit over 25 schools and view over 1000 artworks by Year 11 and 12 students. These works are created by students for assessment in two subjects, Visual Arts and Art Studio Production, towards attaining their Tasmanian Certificate of Education.  

 When asked how she felt about curating this year's ArtRage exhibition, Kate said, "It's a big responsibility. It's wonderful, I get to see all the students' artwork. I have to be restrained, I get so excited." 

Kate will select works from across the state to feature in QVMAG's ArtRage 2023. The exhibition will officially open at the Art Gallery at Royal Park on 9 December and will be followed by a state tour to Hobart and the North West Coast. 

Now in its 29th year, the annual ArtRage exhibition provides budding artists recognition of their talent and the opportunity to showcase their works in a gallery setting. For audience members, ArtRage gives audiences an exciting glimpse into the future of Tasmanian art.  

For Kate, she is conscious of the importance of her role in curating the exhibition. "It's making sure that we have a great selection, a great variety," she noted. "But also, that we're really encouraging students that art is a career you can pursue. To encourage them to continue art - whether it's going to tertiary, or going into private study." 

ArtRage 2022 guest curator, Patrick Sutczak, was available to give some friendly advice to Kate. "It's different to the academic environment," he said. "Overall, what ArtRage does is showcase artworks in a very different type of setting outside of the institution. That's a really important thing.  

"So for Kate, I would be looking at everything. Thinking about the greater picture, the big show. Trying to show all ages, all skill levels, all styles. And have a fantastic show for people that wouldn't normally get to see outside of those environments." 

QVMAG curator looks at student artworks

Image: Kate Davies visits over 25 schools in Tasmania to curate the ArtRage exhibition. Photo: QVMAG.  

In curating the exhibition, Kate is the only person in the state with the chance to view all Year 11 and 12 student artworks in Tasmania. Subject assessors are restricted to viewing works within each year level. Therefore, Kate is privileged to be able to view all college-level artwork. "We have Visual Art, which has taken over from the previous subject of Art Production," Kate said. "And we have Art Studio Practice." 

"They are Year 11 and 12 students with different focuses. Some will be studying just various aspects of visual art. And some of them will be further along in their art study at a college level." 

Kate shared her approach to the selection process, where her initial contact can be as little as one minute to consider a piece. "It would be nice if we could take all day!" she laughed. "Normally, I will photograph the whole work, photograph the statement of the artist, and then perhaps take one or two more detailed photos of things that interest me immediately.  

"It helps sometimes to read the artist's statements, but not always. Sometimes it's better to look at the work first and then read their statements afterwards to see how it fits. 

"Then I'll go back afterward to look at the photos. You have limited time on site and you don't want to make a rash decision in the moment." 

QVMAG curator takes a photo of student artworks

Image: Kate Davies will take an image of the artist's statement to help in her considerations.

Curating the ArtRage exhibition is a considered process that requires more than simply choosing the best artworks. "It's interesting, looking at a body of work," she said. "We are looking for a piece that stands out. It may be that someone has a great body of work, and we might only take one piece. Or, someone's body of work may not necessarily be strong, but they do have one amazing piece in there. 

"We select more on how they best represent the year and best represent their school. And we're looking for that student who is doing really interesting things with their work and their practice. What are they thinking about? And how are they interpreting this through their art?  

"It's not necessarily doing something new, but it's about getting their personal stories out there and their experiences and reshape saying, 'This is who I am.'" 

She noted the positive impact that ArtRage can have on students and their future in the arts. "It's rewarding, seeing students really excited about, [art] is something that they can do," she said. 

"Whether they want to go into fine art or design, or into things such as the gaming industry and movies, and all sorts of various creative areas that perhaps they may not have thought about. They're going, 'I don't know if I can do that'. And we're like, 'Yes! Yes, you can!'  

"And it's good to see them go, 'Yes, I can. I can do this.” 


ArtRage 2023
Art Gallery at Royal Park
9 December 2023 - 2 April 2024