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Talented artist and Year 13 student, Ruby Sawtell, received the ultimate accolade when her Mask 2 artwork was recently selected for the Royal Academy of Arts Young Artists’ Summer Show.
Based on their iconic Summer Exhibition, London’s Royal Academy (RA) created the show to offer talented young artists, at primary and secondary levels, the chance to highlight their work through the RA’s online platforms.
This year, over 17,700 artworks were submitted to the judging panel from students across the globe. The top two percent were then selected for exhibition, with pieces ranging from drawing, painting, and photography, to video and sculpture.
Participating in the initiative for this first time, 22 students from ACG Parnell College submitted a total of 38 artworks for consideration – many of which had been made in their own time.
With such a high level of competition, Ruby was thrilled to be included in the RA show, especially since she her work doesn’t sit within the traditional stereotypes of canvas and sculpture.
“I used to think art was all about drawing and painting which I am not very good at,” she explains. “Doing design and technology in Year 11 and mixed media in Year 12 made me realise that there is so much more to art than drawing and painting. In particular, my teacher Mrs Guinibert has taught me that there are so many different materials that can be used to create different effects and has inspired me to create pieces such as Mask 2.
“When I heard I was selected for the show I was very shocked, but also very pleased, as I didn’t expect anything to happen. I wasn’t even going to submit my art, the only reason I did was because of the support and encouragement I received.”
Crediting Mrs Guinibert as her biggest artistic influence, Ruby also finds inspiration in the works of Emil Nolde and Bertjan Pot (who create masks) and Nick Cave (who makes sound suits), along with Liz Payne (needle punching), Rosie James (stitching), and Andie Regan and Aurora Robson who both work with plastic.
Thinking outside the box, the arty seventeen-year-old enjoys producing unique, tactile pieces and designs which are not usually seen in mainstream artworks, and experimenting with materials such as fabric, rope, and thread.
Ruby originally began Mask 2 earlier this year as part of her A2 Level mixed media coursework. However, due to lockdown conditions, she completed most of the construction at home which meant a little Kiwi ingenuity was required.
“It was challenging as I didn’t have access to all the resources I would usually have. But I did, luckily, have the main materials that I needed.”
“Overall, it took me a few weeks to complete Mask 2 as I first had to create the different pieces of the mask and paint them, using several coats of house paint. The hardest part was attaching the pieces together where I used a combination of hot glue and stitching.”
With her bold and vibrant design aesthetic firmly in place, Ruby is keeping her options open for the future and is currently considering a graphic design course for next year. But no matter what path she chooses, she clearly exemplifies Albert Einstein’s belief that creativity is simply intelligence having fun.