Griffith fine art students visited the Venice Biennale, and went behind the scenes at the world’s greatest galleries during a recent three-week study trip to Italy.
Queensland College of Art lecturers Dr Julie Fragar, Dr Simon Degroot and Adjunct Professor Jenny Watson led 20 students on a whirlwind trip that took in Rome, Florence, Venice, Trento and Roverto.
The study tour included gallery tours, studio visits and curatorial briefings, bringing art history to life and exposing students to the best contemporary art.
The crossroads of old and new
“We walked nearly 200 kilometres in a couple of weeks, so it was an intense trip and we crammed in as much as possible,” Dr Fragar said.
“It was a nice crossover – the Venice Biennale is one of the biggest contemporary art events in the world, and the tour of Italy allowed our students to see some of the most iconic pieces in Western art history.
“It’s important creatively for them to see where Australia sits in relation to the rest of the art world, and the scale and magnitude of what is out there.”
Dr Fragar said the study trip profoundly altered the students artistic practice.
“They realise that they aren’t working in a vacuum, and there’s a maturity that starts to creep into their work,” she said.
“They have a deeper sense of how their work sits in relation to the art world, and it gives them the confidence to experiment and play with aspects of their art practice.”
A life-changing experience
The trip was a once in a lifetime experience for the Bachelor of Fine Art student Molly Smith.
“There were so many amazing moments, and we saw so much, everything from ancient Roman sculpture to contemporary video installations,” she said.
“It was really surreal seeing some of the famous works of art that we had studied and written about.
“Being at the Uffizi Gallery and seeing a Botticelli – all of us were just dumbstruck.
“It is really something special to see it up close, in the flesh – the reproductions don’t do them justice.”
A global community
Molly said the trip had been “a huge learning curve”.
“I came back super excited to be making work and experimenting with new ways of doing things,” she said.
“Working away in the studio, you can sometimes forget that it’s not just you chipping away, you are part of a global community of artists.”
Molly relished the opportunity to travel with the QCA’s renowned faculty – all of whom are well-regarded artists.
“Travelling with such a diverse group of artists of all different ages and backgrounds let us see things from all different angles,” she said.
“All of the lecturers at the QCA have such a breadth of knowledge and their connections meant we got the chance to go behind the scenes at a lot of the galleries and studios.
“It was also great to see our lecturers engaging with the artworks and exhibitions, and hear how it was impacting their own practice.
“These are the kinds of opportunities you don’t get after you graduate.”
Photos from the trip are on Instagram at #qcaItaly2019.