Each year the College’s New Women, a volunteer support group of the Parents and Friends’ Association (P&F) generously support Newington’s artist in residence program. In Term 1, the College welcomed acclaimed Australian contemporary artist Ms Mikala Dwyer. Mikala worked with Year 11 students twice a week for the duration of Term 1 to investigate contemporary painting. Mikala has been exhibiting significantly since 1992 and has received public commissions, Australian and International Scholarships and is held in public and private collections. She currently shows with Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery and Anna Schwartz Gallery. At the end of her residency at the College, Mikala exhibited her work alongside the Newington boys’ work in an exhibition called Speak for Themselves which ran from 30 March until 9 April.
In reflecting about working with Mikala and the exhibition Speak for Themselves, student Jack De Lacy said, “The experience became a three-month collaborative performance. Discussing, listening and painting in her studio, I was taken out of the Concordia art space and enveloped by the physical and spiritual world of Dwyer’s practice. It was the inviting atmosphere of Dwyer’s studio that enabled a collective to form amongst the boys, as we worked separately to create four unified geometric paintings. More than images free of subject matter, or a study of complex hard line painting, the artworks made by Year 11 Visual Arts students represent the thriving Visual Arts community at Newington College.”
Having Mikala work collaboratively with the Visual Arts students was a remarkable experience which helped the boys to learn about the processes, materials and techniques used by an expert in the field. Curator of Concordia, Ms Hannah Chapman said, “The mutuality with which Mikala has related to the boys’ means they are equipped with the confidence to take more creative risks and solve material and conceptual problems with greater commitment and lateral thinking. Mikala’s artistic practice considers the subjective and objective relationship we have as individuals and as part of a community. This has provoked the boys to identify those two states of being and reflect on them in more critical ways.”
The College thanks Concordia Gallery Curator Ms Hannah Chapman for her work with Ms Mikala Dwyer and the Visual Arts students as well as the New Women P&F Group for so generously making the artist in residence program at the College possible.