A young Ballarat photographer's work as been included in a showcase of Victoria's best secondary school artists at Federation Square.
Damascus College year 12 student Charlotte Grimes' photo Lament is one of 46 pieces from across the state to be part of the annual Top Arts exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria's Ian Potter Centre.
The exhibition is a showcase for students who studied VCE art or studio art in 2020 and a celebrates the achievements of students who were able to create extraordinary work despite the challenges posed by remote learning during a global pandemic.
Charlotte's work is one in a three-part series titled The ineffable, which is also part of the Next Gen exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and are an expression of what she, and people around the world, went through during lockdown where lives were lived predominantly either at home or in nature.
Charlotte said she never thought her work would make it into a Top Arts exhibition.
"I did not expect to get into Top Arts at all. I've visited previous Top Arts exhibitions with school and with my family and I was just amazed by the work there so I never thought I would actually have a shot at it," she said.
"I wanted to juxtapose those two things, the ironing board and the beach... The other two are vacuuming in the forest and loading a dishwasher on a hill."
Charlotte said lockdowns and restrictions posed added difficulties in taking the photos, including having to use herself as a model.
"It was a bit of watching the news quite a lot to see when the lockdowns would end," she said.
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"For that photo in particular, I had to wait until the first lockdown ended and me and my family went down to Geelong, I think it was a few weeks in between lockdowns we managed to get it in, but I had to plan everything beforehand.
"The model options were limited at the time as well with social distancing so I already planned to use my dad and sister in my other photos and I kind of wanted to be part of it as well as a reflection of us as a family and our experiences during COVID."
Charlotte's work is also unique in that it printed on glass and was created predominantly through manual photography skills rather than a heavy use of digital editing software, with Lament taking two hours to get right.
"I had to bring all the props and I had some LED lights as well and the camera flash and just getting the lighting right was very important, I just had to take lots of photos until I was happy with the final result," she said.
"I had to set-up the camera beforehand, I changed all the settings and just instructed my dad to just take the photos or change a light here and there. I'd have to run over to the camera, see if I liked it, then run back into the water so it was interesting.
"It took a while to decide on a material but I thought the glass really reflected lockdown as well, stuck inside windows so I felt the glass was a good option that went well with the concept."
NGV educator and Top Arts co-curator Theresa Powles said Charlotte's photo fits perfectly in one of the exhibition's theme, 'outside'.
"She initially set out to look at society's connection to nature and then, of course, lockdown and isolation coming into play while she was going through that process influenced her to reflect on individual's emotions responses and ways of navigating these uncertain times and the coping strategies they use," she said.
"We look at the technical prowess of the final work as well as the process she's gone through... She's done that with technically very beautiful results."
Top Arts will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre until July 11 with free entry.
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