Family influences 2020 ARTEXPRESS artists

Art proved personal for two students whose works are on show at the Art Gallery of NSW.

11 February 2020
Lemah Orya in front of her artwork
Image: Lemah Orya - Mending broken things after the Afghan war- Healing the wounds of war with artistic beauty.

A child of Afghani migrants has used a Japanese philosophy around repairing broken items to help illustrate the plight of her parents' homeland in a stunning artwork that features in the 2020 ARTEXPRESS exhibition.

St Marys Senior High School alumnus Lemah Orya combined ceramics from the Afghani village of Istalif with the Japanese technique of Kintsugi to produce a sculpture that expressed her aspirations for her war-torn homeland.

'Kintsugi is a technique of mending ceramics with gold leaf thereby allowing the 'scar' of each piece to become a thing of beauty,' Lemah, who was born in Australia, said.

The sculpture, titled Mending broken things after the Afghan war, reflects the reality of a 'broken', war-torn Afghanistan but also her hope that the country is on the road to recovery and will one day 'be healed'.

'I aimed to capture the tendency of nature to flourish and overcome the destruction caused by war through the wild flora and mushrooms that emerge from within the cracks of each broken ceramic,' she said.

Her sculpture was one of 48 artworks selected from 8,552 student works submitted for the 2019 HSC and featured in the 2020 exhibition, launched this week at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Sama Padmini Cooper in front of her artwork
Image: Sama Padmini Cooper - Sonder- The realisation that everyone has a story to tell.

Katoomba High School alumnus Sama Padmini Cooper's work, Sonder, reflected her favourite subject - people.

'I've always been interested in how people connect to art and how portraits can convey a person's personality and emotion,' Sama said.

'I began to experiment with Indian ink and its fluid, spontaneous nature, which captures the psychological and emotional state of each individual.

'Each portrait demands contemplation by the audience, a time to connect and engage with the shared human experience.'

Sama's mother, Meredith Cooper, is a renowned Blue Mountains landscape artist and Sama said she was determined to follow in her footsteps.

'I'm taking a gap year [to] travel then I'm going to the National Art School in Darlinghurst and become a full-time artist,' she said.

One of the gallery's most popular exhibitions, this year's 36th annual ARTEXPRESS brings the work of the next generation of artists and creative thinkers into the public arena; presenting a snapshot of the passions, curiosities and concerns occupying the minds of young Australians.

ARTEXPRESS is a partnership between the NSW Education Standards Authority and the NSW Department of Education in association with the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

ARTEXPRESS 2020 exhibitions:

Art Gallery of New South Wales: 6 February - 26 April

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, Gymea: 14 February - 13 April

The Armory, Sydney Olympic Park: 3 March - 5 April

Griffith Regional Art Gallery: 3 April - 10 May

Margaret Whitlam Galleries, Western Sydney University, Parramatta: 4 July - 18 September

Goulburn Regional Art Gallery: 21 August - 26 September

Virtual Exhibition: Launching July 2020

Return to top of page Back to top