Shaye Leathan’s self-portrait as a blue-haired cyborg is a little more unsettling when you discover the meaning behind it.
The 18-year-old student, who has just graduated from Ballarat Secondary College, has used a combination of watercolour and collage-sculpture of discarded motherboards from computers, phones and alarm clocks to paint a disturbing picture.
Her portrait shows a young woman partly made of technological parts, putting her finger to her lips as if guarding a secret.
Miss Leathan’s work, along with the work of 68 other school-leavers, will be on display at the Art Gallery of Ballarat as of February 4.
The annual Next Gen exhibition aims to showcase the best of student artwork from Ballarat, Daylesford, Stawell, Ararat, Horsham – and for the first time, Warrnambool.
A number of prizewinners will be announced on the opening night, including the overall $500 winner, with the people’s choice recipient announced at the exhibition’s close.
“I wanted to focus on the issue of technology in the world and how it’s changing us and how it will affect us in the future,” Miss Leathan said.
“I study a lot of technology-based things so I know how it is affecting the world. The world’s going to change that much and robots are going to take over.”
She said already these trends were obvious.
“It might get to a point where we can’t control it anymore,” she said.
“I feel it would affect a lot of people in my age group and 10 years younger. We can’t get up without checking our phone.”
She said her portrait’s finger positioning represented the way these changes were being silenced.
“It was to symbolise the ‘shooshing’ of the world. We’ve hidden behind the identity of the internet, and everything on the internet is different to real life.”
Gallery education officer Michael Nichols said works had been selected from 200 applicants.
He said the standard was high, with this year’s works focusing on themes including beauty, identity, love, the environment and the future.