'First Class 19' opens at the Museum of Art and Culture, highlighting HSC artworks of local students

The ARTISTIC talent of Lake Macquarie's millennials is on show at the Museum of Art and Culture, at Booragul, as part of this year's First Class 19 exhibition.

The exhibition showcases some of the best works from 2019 HSC visual arts students from Lake Macquarie and surrounding areas.

It includes everything from photos and paintings to sculptures and printmaking.

MAC director Debbie Abraham said First Class, now in its 12th year, was always one of the venue's most popular exhibitions.

"The diversity and creativity on display in First Class 19 belies the young age of these amazing artists," Ms Abraham said.

"It also demonstrates the multitude of skills visual arts students must call upon when taking on the HSC."

Exhibition curator Helen Willis said distinctive concepts and themes had emerged in this year's collection, including nature and the environment, memories, family, and the importance of culture.

"These works are an insight into the concerns of young people in the community," Ms Willis said.

"Things like mental health, climate change, pollution and social injustice."

Former Heritage College Lake Macquarie student Natasha Wilson's impressive work represents the micro-organisms found in a single drop of sea water, with each creature painstakingly sculpted from recycled plastic.

"I wanted my work to bring to light pollution and the effects it can have on ocean creatures," Ms Wilson said.

"Most people focus on the macro and the bigger creatures, but no one actually realises the micros it also affects, and when they die in the food chain, it all sort of crumbles from there."

She said it was a thrill to have her work exhibited in a major show.

"I've only really shown it to classmates, teachers and my family," Wilson said.

"But knowing that people can come in and they can judge the artwork for themselves and decide what they want from it - it's pretty exciting."

Environmental issues were also front-of-mind for former Merewether High School student Nicholas Wilson when devising his HSC work.

Wilson photographed landscapes in NSW National Parks, installing luminescent wire in-situ to represent a graph showing urban development.

"The main concept is basically looking at how human impacts on the environment, especially in Australia," Wilson said.

"I want to get the viewer to change their ideas around the environment and Australia and the role we have in protecting it."

First Class 19 is on until April 5.

MAC is also hosting Case study: Guan Wei, focusing on leading Australian-Chinese contemporary artist Guan Wei, whose No.1 Sky Pig sculpture has become a fixture of the Warners Bay foreshore. It too closes on April 5.

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