Reviews/Visual Art

Bold and striking art from Hatchlings

24 May 2023

From weaponised jewellery to hand-blown glass breaths, cosplay to vibrant projections, top graduates from our nation’s arts schools have created works that are variously immersive, disruptive and discomforting, writes Belinda Hermawan.

Hatched: National Graduate Show 2023, various artists
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts

From bold statements on recent societal and political events, to the interrogation of personal histories, this year’s cohort of Hatched artists are not afraid to hold a mirror – or a magnifying glass – to all things uncomfortable.

PICA’s annual Hatched exhibition features the work of recent art school graduates from across the nation. Seeking to capture and respond to realities worth disrupting, this year’s iteration is produced by Hatched Curatorial Fellow Brent Harrison and features works by 26 emerging artists, selected by panellists Archie Barry (artist, Melbourne), Glenn Iseger-Pilkington (curator, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth) and Hannah Mathews (director/CEO, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts).

Jingxuan Chen cosplays three East Asian archetypal characters in ‘Transformation vol 2: a romantic incident’, 2022, Hatched: National Graduate Show 2023, installation view, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2023. Photo: Dan McCabe

The exhibition boasts a number of immersive audio-visual installations, including RMIT graduate Soile Paloheimo’s Where the ocean is the sky. Standing in the room is an alien experience, with video of bright-coloured “moire effect” patterns projected on opposing walls and pulsating audio interspersed with Paloheimo’s native Finnish.

Even the circular platform in the centre of the room is reminiscent of a control panel in a spaceship. Paloheimo’s psychedelic rumination on the foreignness and isolation of COVID-19 truly captures how out of this world this experience has been for us.

Jingxuan Chen, graduate of the University of Melbourne, also evokes a sense of confusion in her triptych of videos Transformation vol 2: a romantic incident.

Speaking directly to the viewer, Chen cosplays three East Asian archetypal characters: an air hostess in a red uniform, the camera following her legs as she walks in high heels; an alluring female civil servant, incessantly chatting; and a Japanese school girl in a laundromat, self-aware of how she is a character in a game. In positioning the audience to view her at these angles, Chen effectively portrays the discomfort of the exploitative white male gaze.

Particularly successful are the artworks that ambitiously combine installation, sculpture, textiles and/or digital elements. Patrons gravitated towards South Australian artist Marion Sandberg’s set of works (pictured top) on opening night, intrigued by the premise. The spinning wheel in Sandberg’s Scroll Wheel is motorised, the thread being spun being that of the digital kind: tweets and messages on an iPhone.

Framed needlework actually functions as a touchpad in Marian Sandberg’s ‘System sampler’, 2022, Hatched: National Graduate Show 2023, installation view, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2023, photo: Dan McCabe

Woven textiles do feature in Sandberg’s System sampler, PB/5 and Beep, where framed needlework actually functions as a touchpad that plays recordings of Sandberg mimicking the sounds of a traffic crossing when pressed. It is a fascinating prompt to stop and reflect on our robotic reliance on technology and the interactions we manufacture.

In making the intangible more visible, specifically in relation to environmental transformation, University of Sydney graduate Anna May Kirk even goes so far as to utilise scent, having developed synthetic ozone and petrichor in collaboration with perfumer Ainslie Walker for Detecting high skies, deep earth.

This enhances the already ethereal experience of viewing her hand-blown glass “breaths” which sit atop copper tiles in Forecasting the touch of change. These glass sculptures are stylised like tear drops containing a cloudy suspension, with the footage of this liquid crystallising projected as a video backdrop, The storm.

Also exploring climate change is William O’Toole’s impressive diptych Burnouts, a standout set of oil paintings.

The University of Wollongong graduate has cleverly chosen artificial turf as his canvas, depicting a car in flames in one panel and an older model car in an overgrown garden in the other. The synthetic green texture serves as a fitting backdrop for these disintegrating vehicles, emphasising the disregard for our environment and the cost of our reliance on cars, especially in our suburbs.

Finally, it is exciting to see emerging talent embrace opposition in their practice. WA artist Bryce Olsen has constructed three “deviant” chairs that directly challenge our accepted notions of comfort, with each piece grand but impractical in varying ways. ACT artist Matthew Freeman’s crafted, weaponised jewellery, is prime for a riot – whether for civil rights, freedom or climate change. In pairing style and function, Freeman transforms accessories into tools.

I highly recommend visiting this immersive exhibition – be prepared for the bold and striking to make you look, listen and think.

Pictured top: Anna May Kirk makes the intangible more visible. Pictured is an installation view of her works in ‘Hatched: National Graduate Show 2023‘, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2023. Photo: Dan McCabe

Hatched: National Graduate Show 2023 continues at PICA until 23 July 2023.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Belinda Hermawan

Belinda Hermawan is a graduate of UWA Law School (2009) and a fiction writer whose short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. She is a summer school alum of Parsons, The New School of Design in New York. Favourite piece of playground equipment: playground car on springs!

Past Articles

  • A blaze of glorious people

    Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery blazes a trail with an exhibition of remarkable portraits, writes Belinda Hermawan

  • Finding presence in absence

    Though bemused by its installation choices, Belinda Hermawan finds some thought-provoking art works in Tracing Absence, an exhibition that explores loss.

Read Next

  • Just what the doctor ordered

    Just what the doctor ordered

    29 September 2023

    Dr AudiYO uses vocal gymnastics to take the audience on a fun adventure. Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are happy to take this prescription. 

    Reading time • 3 minutesTheatre
  • Seadragon weaves magic spell

    Seadragon weaves magic spell

    28 September 2023

    The Magical Weedy Seadragon enchants junior reviewer Isabel Greentree with a winning blend of story, song and humour.   

    Reading time • 4 minutesMulti-arts
  • Lifting the weight of the world

    Lifting the weight of the world

    28 September 2023

    Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are taken on a thoughtful and funny journey to the Moon with one overwhelmed girl.

    Reading time • 4 minutesTheatre

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio


Cleaver Street Studio