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First Class Creativity on Display in New Exhibition

2022 HSC student Gigi Martin with her artwork.

Themes running through an annual showcase of some of the best artworks by Hunter and Central Coast HSC students are as diverse and interesting as the young minds who dreamt them up.


Climate change, culture, personal turmoil and floods are just some of the concepts depicted in this year’s First Class exhibition, opening Sunday at the Museum of Art and Culture, yapang, in Lake Macquarie.

Despite the variety of subjects covered, the 47 works all have one thing in common: they demonstrate the incredible creative talent of our younger generation.

Co-curator Kate Endacott, whose inclusion in First Class in 2010 provided a launchpad for an artistic career that has blossomed in the 13 years since, said this year’s artists used their works to both celebrate and challenge the achievements, complexities and issues in their world.

“I see an exploration and development of materials, mediums, techniques and art practices,” she said.

“There is also a depth of expression and vulnerability on display for us to engage with and respond to.”

Former Newcastle Grammar student Gigi Martin combined her love of art and fascination with biomedical science to create her work, titled A World Within a World, featuring resin ‘galaxies’ in petri dishes, and an accompanying microscope through which to view them.

“I really wanted the viewer to look at cells not just in a scientific light, but in a more surreal light,” she said.

Martin said she was “speechless” when she saw her multimedia work on display for the first time.

“Last year, my artwork was just sitting at the desk where I worked the whole year,” she said.

“So to see everything professionally done and laid out perfectly – it’s just amazing.”

MAC yapang Curator Courtney Wagner said that since its inception in 2009, First Class had become a highlight in the Hunter Region’s arts calendar.

“Presenting the work of skilful young artists in a professionally curated gallery setting means audiences are able to experience the richness of local talent and the voice of youth,” she said.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser congratulated the students selected for the exhibition.

“It’s wonderful to see our region produce such amazing creative talent,” she said.

“Every year, I am blown away by the variety of work, the stories behind them and the maturity and passion of the young people who created them.”

The exhibition is on display at MAC yapang until 31 March, with an official opening on Sunday afternoon.

Go to for more information.


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