External exemplars Level 3 2020 – Sculpture

Show: External Exemplars

The resources below contain examples of candidate work submitted in 2020 for assessment for the Visual Arts Achievement Standard 91459 Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within sculpture practice. The purpose of this resource is to assist art teachers prepare their teaching programmes and their students for assessment.


Panel 1 (JPG, 439KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 618KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 734KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1.7MB)
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This extensive, yet whimsical submission employs a considered and reflective attitude to a range of modes of sculptural practice. This candidate recognises the formal and conceptual links within and between each phase of work. They demonstrate a fantastic understanding of scale, site, and materiality within a central proposition.

The submission transitions from small and simple object experiments to ambitious and strategic large-scale interactive installation. The candidate utilises readily found materials such as paper, card, yarn, and string to create simple, yet endearing organic forms.

The physical qualities of fungal fruiting bodies and gills are explored in a range of making systems that allows the candidate to reference the life cycle and characteristics of the subject inventively. The mushroom forms on Panel 1 are activated by a performer, which logically suggests an interactive approach to installation. In keeping with ectomycorrhizal growth systems, the candidate creates a circle of large-scale fungal forms that are placed within a large school thoroughfare space. This suggests metaphors of communication and transpiration that make the audience akin to mycelium networks.

These organic forms are then investigated in more detail at the top of Panel 2, where the qualities of fabric and yarn are exploited to create representational gills on the underside of a mushroom head. This then suggests other more organic materials that the candidate utilises to create mushroom forms in exterior spaces mimicking the natural environment they inhabit.

This outdoor experimentation then logically revisits paper as a sculptural material in a stylised version of the gills in paper cutouts. These forms are layered over each other in a placement that suggest a colony of fungus as if grown on the forest floor. The formal arrangement of gills is then investigated as more abstract forms in negative space where the repeated linear nature is extrapolated out into paper cutout drawings and layered paper structures.

The candidate employs a strategy of pushing and pulling paper in organic planar forms perpendicular to the surface on which they stand that lends itself to the inclusion of the audience as activator.

In the large-scale final installation, paper dots like the flat gill forms on the previous panel are placed on the stairs to alert and invite the audience to engage in the movement of the corrugated card loops below. The nature of the corrugated card material is exploited adroitly as it naturally bends and re-forms as the audience moves through the work.

While the candidate references artists such as Carsten Höller or Olafur Eliasson, their work is more implicitly based within the tradition of replicating organic phenomena in a sculptural context. The candidate transcends the modest nature of the material properties to create an experimental and inventive attitude to making work. The ambition of the projects grow logically and reflectively, which demonstrates a deep understanding of sculptural practice.


Panel 1 (JPG, 398KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 489KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 596KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1.4MB)
Click links to see larger images

This candidate engages with a clear sculptural proposition around scale and material shift within the context of weight training and body building. They use absurdist humor in both sculptural object and performance to lampoon the enterprise of weight training.

The notion of masculine body image is addressed at the beginning of the submission via an exaggerated small-scale male torso that is comical in its proportions and forms ,especially when it is considered next to the rotund torso to its right. Scale is well understood by the candidate, who uses the notion of assumed weight to examine the nature of the exercise activity in a humorous and entertaining manner.

The candidate uses simple and easily resourced materials to create comical thematic objects. The use of text also assists the candidate in creating amusing word play around the nature of the sculptural work. The candidate exploits the colloquial terms associated with the stereotypical body image of young men with phrases such as “Bulking Season”, “Ripped”, and “Beast Mode”, adding to the humour of the work.

Faux weights have been constructed from supplement containers and are placed in the context of a real weights rack. This sense of mischievous material shift adds to the metaphor of gaining a muscular physique easily and rapidly. These objects are then articulated in an appropriately selected site that adds to the nature of the work. The deadpan expression of the performer adds to the absurdity of the activity and assists the lampooning of the pursuit that takes itself very seriously. The performances are well-documented and well-edited, presented as logical sequenced photographs.

In order for this candidate to be awarded Excellence, they would have needed to increase the depth of ideas in both performance and object to expand their proposition. The performance work of artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, John Bock, and The Art Guys: Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing would have assisted this candidate in thinking about how best to approach the notion of absurdist performance and scale shift in a social or political context.

Having short contextual labels that describe the duration and site of the performance work would have also helped the candidate in presenting the documentation of the time-based work.


Panel 1 (JPG, 365KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 360KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 363KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1024KB)
Click links to see larger images

This submission operates firmly within the tradition of surrealist figurative sculpture. Scale, pose, and rearrangement of body parts all add to the narrative works arrived at on the final panel.

The candidate has investigated a range of attitudes to modelling figurative works at small and life-size scales. Traditional poses, such as the classical Atlas as well as static seated and standing figures, are investigated. Motion in the figure is explored in simple active poses that capture the figure in mid-stride.

Panel 2 sees the candidate expose the armature of the figures, and experiment with found objects, such as plastic toy kōura as substitutes for bones. This is where the candidate starts the surrealist morphing of facial features on to parts of the body. Faces and legs appear on isolated hands, as if trying to grow back the body that is missing from the appendage. The idea is then extended into the context of a leg protruding from the surface of the plinth or tabletop. The documentation of these limbs suggests that the faces grow incrementally, as if we are witnessing stills from a stop-motion claymation.

The final panel sees the candidate create a tableau in a cubic space inhabited by morphed figures and larger red head. Small-scale furniture and a rope ladder allow the candidate to suggest potential narratives with the figures and head, which expand the surrealist proposition. The addition of lighting and colour as a mechanism to indicate importance in the characters presented is an important step.

The candidate then finally presents an assemblage of a life-size mannequin torso and crafted arm with several faces protruding from the arm's surface. Consideration of colour here signifies the anthesis of the surrealist arm from the seemingly normal mannequin torso. 

In order for this candidate to be awarded Merit, they would have needed to further develop their understanding of figurative works of artists such as Thomas Schütte, Patricia Piccinini, and Francis Upritchard. Small additions of materials to suggest clothing, props, or other character-building contexts would have helped this candidate expand the surrealist narrative potential of their work.

Likewise, considering colour and light more explicitly throughout the submission would have helped this candidate demonstrate the criteria of Merit.

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