Exodus, by Abby Johnstone

Visual Arts HSC Body of Work Spotlight

Each Visual Arts student’s creative journey is unique. All allow for self-discovery and artistic skill development. It is always interesting to know the back story, and aspirations of young artists and to understand what motivates them. The focus within this written piece is about Year 12 Bradfield student Abby Johnstone and her Body of Work, Exodus, an exceptional example of student dedication, demonstrating a conceptual understanding and drawing skills beyond her years. 

Exodus, Abby Johnstone
Pencil on paper, 57 x 38 cm

Artist’s Statement

My body of work “Exodus,” meaning “the road out”, explores the trials and tribulations of the teenage generation and the departure of childhood. 

The universal symbol of the bird is freedom, which many teenagers naturally desire or cannot have, and the raven is symbolically associated with death. The raven in my drawing signifies adolescence and the death of innocence, as you come to face the realities of the good and bad in adult life. The raven’s poses and accompanying objects represent specific emotional states that I hope the audience can empathise with and relate to. In order of display my drawings explore resilience, stress, vulnerability, relationships, conflict and anxiety.

My subject matter and technique has been influenced by tarot cards, and old scientific illustrations and etchings.

Interview with Abby

What did you get out of the process of producing your work?
Answer: When I was producing my Body of Work I found it helped develop my conceptual thinking and my drawing skills. 

What was challenging?
Answer: I found starting a new bird overwhelming. Staring at a blank page felt daunting however it was okay once I begun. Drawing each feather and wing was very repetitive and took 3-5 days to complete. I would try and spend 1-3 hours on them everyday.

How did you sustain your interest?
Answer: Whenever I felt unmotivated or started to get sick of ravens, I kept imagining what the final product would look like which motivated me to work faster to get it finished. I was also looking forward to that feeling of accomplishment once I finished, and it felt great!

What do you plan to do after the HSC? 
Answer: Now that I have finished the HSC I plan to relax and continue drawing heaps, so I can build up a great portfolio. Eventually I’d like to enrol in an art school, although I’m not sure which one yet. 

How has completing creative subjects helped work towards this?
Answer: Completing multiple creative subjects at Bradfield was really helpful in completing my Body of Work. It placed me be in a creative mindset. I did Multi Media, Visual Arts, Contemporary Visual Arts and Design Fundamentals. I had great teachers to guide me and push my ideas. 

How did you get into drawing to begin with?
AnswerI have been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil. Drawing has always been my biggest passion. I am learning new skills and techniques every day.

Is pencil your preferred drawing medium?
Answer: Drawing with graphite pencils is definitely my preferred medium however I am also really into creating art digitally in a more illustrated style. 

We wish Abby every future success.