Basketballer nets a prize commission

A student artist will help mark the anniversary of the Sydney Olympics thanks to his ARTEXPRESS entry.

11 August 2020
Image: Westfields Sports High School 2019 HSC student Tomas Ramos with his works at ARTEXPRESS at the Armory.

When Sydney marks the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Olympics later this year, the works of a Westfields Sports High School 2019 HSC student will become synonymous with the occasion.

Tomas Ramos has been commissioned to create a series of banners that are due to be installed this week and will be displayed throughout Sydney Olympic Park during the celebrations.

His first ‘professional commission’ came after his HSC major work was selected for ARTEXPRESS at the Armory, the largest of the exhibitions of artworks by HSC students.

Tomas’s major work, ‘More than an athlete’ shows four sporting superstars who have used their status to further a political view.

The work includes an iconic image of Cathy Freeman carrying the Aboriginal flag during her lap of honour after winning gold in the 400m at the 200 Olympics.

It also features US basketballers LeBron James and Derrick Rose, who work in the area of social disadvantage, and American football player Colin Kaepernick, who chose to ‘take the knee’ during the playing of the US national anthem as a protest against racial inequality.

Tomas, a State level basketballer who hopes to secure a sports scholarship to the US later this year, said he was stunned by the reception to his work.

“On the opening night of the exhibition, as we were going in I saw copies of my artworks outside being used as the main advertising – they had big banners featuring my works and it was a good surprise,” he said.

“A couple of weeks after I got a call and was asked about making the banners for the Olympics anniversary.”

Tony Nesbitt, Sydney Olympic Authority Manager, Events and Activation, said Tomas’ artwork ‘More than an athlete’ “resonated strongly” with the Sydney Olympic Park.

“In particular, the image of Cathy Freeman proudly bearing the Aboriginal flag during her victory lap spoke directly both to a key moment in the Park’s history and our ongoing commitment to Reconciliation with Australia’s First Peoples,” Mr Nesbitt said.

He said Tomas had been commissioned to create six graphic designs - including the Cathy Freeman image from ARTEXPRESS at the Armory - that evoke key stories from “the best Games ever”.

“Through this initiative, we continue our commitment to arts education in NSW by showcasing the talent of a public school HSC student to celebrate defining moments in Sydney Olympic Park’s ongoing story.”

Tomas said it felt good to gain a formal commission as an artist, particularly given the profile of the event.

As an aspiring professional athlete Tomas said although he wasn’t born when Freeman won gold he had included her in his body of work because “I feel like she’s iconic in Australian sport and she spoke out for Aboriginals”.

“Most of the time when athletes try to speak out on anything to do with politics they get trashed by the media,” Tomas said.

Through his artwork he wanted to highlight that some of sport’s most bankable stars were using their position as a platform for change.

“I feel like everybody has a voice and they should speak out,” he says, adding that the example of sportspeople such as Freeman and LeBron “gives you confidence in a way to show yourself and have a voice”.

While his main ambition is to succeed as a professional basketballer the success of his art has given the shooting guard an alternative career path.

“The main thing I want to do is basketball, but if that doesn’t work out I will study graphic design at college and maybe move on with that.”

ARTEXPRESS at the Armory 2020 can be viewed virtually.

  • Student voices
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