‘Hellenic Echoes’ major work by teenager Eleni Dimitropoulos on display at the Art Gallery of NSW

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For Greek Australian teenager Eleni Dimitropoulos, art has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember.

The former Year 12 student from St Phillips Christian College in Port Stephens said she developed her love for art at only 7 years old. She began with painting and drawing as a hobby, and when she was in her first year of high school, she commenced art classes.

“I’ve always had a determination to have a very creative outlet. It’s how I channelled most of my emotions, understandings and things that have happened to me as well,” Eleni told The Greek Herald.

“Creating is also a really great way for me to express myself. I have done drawing, painting and only recently have I learnt how to do pottery, which is my latest hobby.”

The now-18-year-old has recently had the visual arts major project she did for her Higher School Certificate (HSC) selected to be a part of ARTEXPRESS 2024. This is an annual showcase/exhibition held by the NSW Art Gallery, which unveils outstanding student artworks and major projects submitted from the 2023 HSC Visual Arts examination.

The ARTEXPRESS 2024 exhibition features 50 students’ works, which were selected from more than 8,000 submissions across the state. It includes works across all Expressive Forms of the HSC Visual Arts curriculum and showcases various topics impacting young Australians. Some of the most common themes reflected in the projects on display include identity, family, cultural heritage, place, and home.

Eleni said her collection, titled “Hellenic Echoes: Sky & Sea, Vessels,” depicts vibrant colours, themes, landscapes, and elements inspired by her grandmother.

“My artwork retraces my grandmother’s voyage from Greece, where she embarked on a journey across the sea to Australia,” Eleni said.

“It’s a narrative woven with elements of photography and pottery, symbolising the sky and sea that shaped her story.”

Her pieces contribute to the broader concepts of identity and cultural heritage, inviting viewers to further explore and understand themes of migration, belonging, and resilience.

In Eleni’s bio on the ARTEXPRESS website, she revealed her body of work was not simple a collection of vessels, “but a representation of my personal connection to the colours, textures and landscapes that have shaped my identity.”

“I formed the vessels on the pottery wheel using white, blue, and marbled clay. I chose cobalt carbonate and glaze for the surface treatment. My intent in the photographs of my vessel surfaces is to suggest the sky and seascapes,” the bio read.

Eleni said the process to put together her major work took about a year, and it came with many challenges.

“I started working on it at the end of 2022, and I completed it in September 2023,” she said.

“At times, it was hard to find motivation to keep going with the throwing process (for the pottery) because each pot took so long, roughly 40 minutes, and I had to be sure to get the same sort of style, shape colours and all of that, so that was all pretty hard to overcome.”

The 18-year-old said she was very thankful for her art teacher at school, Vicki Brown.

“She pushed me a lot which helped me get my motivation back and complete the project,” Eleni said.

“The project itself was a labour of love, with each phase on the pottery wheel demanding meticulous attention to detail.”

Eleni said as she came from a regional background, “being given the opportunity to have my work on display as part of ARTEXPRESS 2024 feels even more significant.”

“It feels surreal to have my artwork showcased among such talented peers,” she explained.

“I hope my work sparks conversations about the immigrant experience, particularly the journey of Greeks to Australia.

“Art has always been my outlet for expression. Now, with this gallery experience under my belt, the possibilities just feel endless.”

Eleni’s major work will be on display at ARTEXPRESS 2024 from February 8 to April 21, 2024. To find out more and attend the ARTEXPRESS 2024 exhibition, visit the New South Wales Art Gallery website.

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