Advice for developing the BoW and use of the VAPD

Advice for teachers on approaching the development of the body of work and the role of the visual arts process diary (VAPD).

This page contains a termly plan of teaching and learning activites outlining the key stages of the development of the body of work and a digital VAPD scaffold.

The body of work

The external HSC examination in visual arts consists of the written examination, and the body of work submission, which are both worth 50 marks.

  • The body of work is about demonstrating what students know and can do in the practice of artmaking.
  • Artwork's are created over the duration of the Year 12 course.
  • Over time, the kind of work that students usually submit has evolved to reflect contemporary trends and practice in the artworld.
  • The selection of works for submission allows students to demonstrate critical judgement.
  • Works are curated to reflect a coherent point of view and communicate to audiences the student’s intentions, conceptual strength and meaning, and technical resolution.
  • The inclusion of more than one work can allow for meaning to be extended within and between works.
  • An individual work can be submitted but should show sustained investigation into materials and ideas.

Successful bodies of work

Successful bodies of work is an interactive resource for students to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the body of work, explore high-quality examples and interviews with past students, and develop ideas for their body of work.

Students complete 4 sequences:

  • qualities of successful bodies of work
  • student experiences
  • start the body of work.

Suggested teaching activities

The timetable below may be used to inform teaching and learning activities to support the development of the body of work.

Teachers should differentiate accordingly, and establish procedures for feedback and reflection with students throughout their artmaking in the HSC course.

When completing this short unit of work, students will learn from a range of former students who have successfully completed their body of work. They will also take a virtual tour of ArtExpress 2020 at the Art Gallery of NSW, and will investigate the role of the curator in creating the ArtExpress exhibition. By completing these activities, students will identify and understand the qualities of successful HSC bodies of work

Successful bodies of work interactive resource

The Visual Arts Process Diary (VAPD)

Students are required to keep a Visual Arts Process Diary (VAPD) as a personal record of their ideas and intentions in artmaking. The VAPD should provide a record of research, investigations into subject matter, development of technical skills and process, reflection and directions for further development and refinement.

Assessment and reporting | NSW Education Standards © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2020

The VAPD is a tool for students to record evidence of their artmaking practice – their intentions, choices and actions – throughout the planning, development and resolution of the body of work. The VAPD is also used as evidence of a student’s progress and authorship of the body of work.

The VAPD is not externally assessed as part of the body of work submission, however markers may request access to the VAPD if the body of work needs verification or further evidence of a candidate’s work is required, and in cases of appeals. The VAPD must be retained by the school until the conclusion of the visual arts written HSC examination.

The VAPD must be used to inform school-based assessment tasks related to the body of work. For example, artmaking tasks may refer to the VAPD to assess an artmaking proposal or statement of intent, or evidence of progress or resolution of the body of work.

The VAPD is often presented as a sketchbook or folder, however, the syllabus also suggests that a container for 3D works or a collection of digital files can form part of the VAPD. It is recommended that the VAPD be kept well organised, and a digital document scaffold (PPTX 157.7 KB) could be used to organise and collate material in the VAPD.

Teachers and students should recognise that a diary is not a necessary condition of artmaking as a practice. However, it plays a highly significant role in the art classroom as a means of developing students’ understanding and judgement. Keeping a diary should not necessarily be viewed by teachers and students as a way towards guaranteed success in the practice of artmaking. It is highly recommended that teachers do not encourage students to use their diaries as ends in themselves, nor for them to have a ‘life of their own’. The diary must not be used as a substitute for the making of a body of work.

Visual Arts Stage 6 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2016

What should go in the VAPD?

The VAPD should be used by students to thoroughly document their processes and practices as they work towards resolution of the body of work. This includes work that occurs directly in the VAPD, such as concept maps, preliminary sketches, planning notes, artist research, and students’ reflections on their progress. It also includes documentation of the body of work as it is developed and resolved, such as progress photographs of student artmaking.

VAPD entries should be dated and include annotations that reflect on, explain, or evaluate their work. The teacher should also date and sign student work, and may record annotations or notes in the VAPD to give feedback.

Students should document a broad range of artmaking activities and supporting material in their VAPD.

  • Copies of documentation such as school-based assessment schedules, assessment tasks, and relevant information from the NESA Assessment and reporting in Visual Arts Stage 6 website.
  • Development of initial ideas, intentions, and proposals for the body of work.
  • Preliminary and experimental artmaking that explores material practices and processes.
  • Concept mapping that explores the subject matter, interests, issues, and conceptual challenges that will be represented in the body of work. This should be informed by the student’s understanding of practice, the conceptual framework, and one or more frames.
  • Research into the world and artworld that may inform development of ideas for the body of work, including investigations of practices of relevant artists, curators, critics and/or historians.
  • Planning for artmaking activities that might form the basis of the body of work, such as a preliminary sketch for a sculpture, or a small study for a larger painting.
  • Documentation of work in progress, such as photographs of a drawing, or screenshots from image editing software.
  • Students’ evaluations and reflections on their artmaking choices, processes and actions. These may be accompanied by recorded feedback from the teacher.
  • Setup diagram, title, and an artist statement should be recorded in the VAPD. These elements might change in the leadup to the final submission after teacher and peer feedback.

Successful bodies of work, date accessed 5/10/2021.

The body of work student interviews, date accessed 5/10/2021.

Inside ARTEXPRESS | Art Gallery of NSW, date accessed 5/10/2021.

Practice in artmaking, art history and art criticism scaffold, date accessed 5/10/2021.

The conceptual framework scaffold, date accessed 5/10/2021.

The frames scaffold, date accessed 5/10/2021.

Assessment and reporting | NSW Education Standards, date accessed 5/10/2021.

Visual Arts Stage 6 Syllabus, date accessed 5/10/2021.

Digital document scaffold (PPTX 157KB)

Visual arts Stage 6 and the body of work – professional learning, date accessed 5/10/2021.

HSC Professional Learning (Visual Arts) – a quality teaching practice initiative, date accessed 5/10/2021.


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