Identity and environmental issues are just some of the themes in this year’s Top Arts exhibition, an annual favourite on the NGV exhibition calendar.

Opening at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, Top Arts 2018 showcases the work of 54 of Victoria’s best and brightest VCE Art and VCE Studio Art students. Drawing from over 2,200 submissions, this year’s finalists present an engaging display of materials and techniques, including sculpture and crochet, papier-mâché and recycled fashion garments.

NGV Director Tony Ellwood said, ‘Top Arts celebrates the outstanding abilities of Victoria’s emerging artistic talents. Each year art students from across the state respond to the many social concerns pertinent to them and we are very proud to give them a platform through this annual exhibition.’

Personality and integrity are strong narratives in the works of this year’s finalists, with Ellen Lui’s work Pride drawing inspiration from the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign. Featuring the portrait of a classmate and friend of Lui’s captured during the process of transitioning from female to male, the work uses scratchboard to convey the physical and emotional changes her subject was experiencing.

Exploring themes of social justice and belonging, Madeline King of Kingswood College, Box Hill has captured the timely and inspiring story of Syrian refugee Nujeen Mustafa in her work Nujeen Mustafa. Influenced by the iconic stencil forms of street artist Banksy, King combined mortar, plaster and bricks to depict her subject as emerging from the broken rubble of Aleppo, Syria. The work conveys Mustafa’s strength through her ordeal and brings attention to the human consequences of the Syrian conflict.

Environmental degradation was a focus for Lily Callanan’s intricately detailed textile works What was and What is (make a change). In an effort to reduce her own environmental footprint and bring attention the impact of humans on the environment, Callanan worked exclusively with found materials. Fusing both her passion for environmental sustainability and her family’s practice of embroidery, Callanan has created two juxtaposing works that provide a ‘before and after’ perspective on the deterioration of marine life.

Another highlight of the exhibition is a 8,531-person football stadium sculpture created by Melbourne Grammar School student Hugo Gray. The work entitled Self-portrait is a personal representation of Gray’s physical, emotional and atmospheric experiences at sporting arenas and was inspired by his visits to some of the world’s most technical and innovative stadiums.

Top Arts 2018  runs from the 23rd March to the 15th of July and will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square – open 10am – 5pm. Entry is free

Source: NGV