Visual Arts

The Visual Arts course has been designed for students who engage in project-based learning, are creative thinkers, problem solvers and have an interest in the arts. Each unit of work is designed around a concept, an area of investigation, encouraging students to develop their critical and creative thinking. Students will study artworks and artists from ancient times to the traditional period, the modern and postmodern periods up to contemporary practice.

This course enables students to represent their ideas and interests about the world, to engage in contemporary forms of communication and to understand and write about their world. Common themes connect the practical and theory work and the students have the flexibility of trying different artmaking approaches that they have never experienced before in Year 7 and Year 8 Visual Arts. Due to the excellent facilities in the Design Centre, students have the opportunity to produce a wide variety of artworks in mediums such as drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture.


Head of Department: Tara Jongsma

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Year 9

1. Spiritual and Sacred

Before we began putting art into museums, art mostly served as the visual counterpart to religious stories, theological paintings, sculptures, textiles and illuminations from centuries ago. This unit investigates the evolution of art and explains how the modern viewer can see the history of art as an ongoing global conversation about our beliefs and values.

2. More Human than Human

Images of the human body dominate our modern world above all others. This unit looks back through history and the changes to the representation of the human body and what these artworks can reveal about the culture of that time.

3. Body of Evidence

Can a painting be historical evidence? Can it "prove" something happened? This unit looks at how artists have played the role of historical recorders, and questions the reliability of artworks as evidence.

Students will attend at least one excursion day to art galleries and listen to and work with guest artists who come to Barker and inspire our young artists.


The practical component of the course is 60% and the theoretical component (critical and historical studies) is worth 40%.

Year 10

1. Leaving Traces

“To live means to leave a trace” Walter Benjamin
This unit investigates the concept of a life leaving a trace of existence. Ceramics is integrated with digital media (photography, video, animation) to produce either a performance artwork or a documented form.

2. Seeing the Light

From Caravaggio to Monet to James Turrell, artists have obsessed over light and how to best capture it through their artmaking practice. Inspired by these artists and more, students will create a series of artworks that convey 'light', by experimenting across a range of materials and techniques.

3. The Natural World

Art has been a means by which humans have expressed their relationship with the natural world. From representations of animals and documentation of flora to landscapes and earthworks, artists have responded to nature. In this unit, students will create artworks that respond to nature or comment on issues concerning the environment.

Students will attend at least one excursion day to art galleries and listen to and work with guest artists, who come to Barker and inspire our young artists.



The practical component of the course is 60% and the theoretical component (critical and historical studies) is worth 40%.

Year 11

The Preliminary Visual Arts course offers students the opportunity to continue their enjoyment of art studies from Junior and Middle School to a more sophisticated level in the Senior School. It also caters for students who may be selecting the subject for the first time.

The ability to resolve problems in an innovative, imaginative, creative and independent manner is at the core of good artmaking practice. This exciting Preliminary Course in Visual Arts is a foundation course, providing you with the opportunity to explore and consider all options available in the HSC Course.

A variety of expressive forms including ceramics, documented forms, drawing, graphic design, painting, photo-media (including wet-media and digital), printmaking, sculpture, textiles & fibre, time-based forms (including video and animation) and designed objects will be available.

A variety of engaging concepts and media are investigated to form three separate practical tasks in the Preliminary Course. Units of work have been designed to best prepare students for the HSC Course.

Preliminary Course

1. Non-Representational
An investigation of how modern and postmodern artists seek to explore abstraction and non-representational artmaking practices.

2. Power Play
An investigation into how power, politics and persuasion have been used by artists from diverse backgrounds and epochs. Students develop a deeper understanding of power relations in the world they live in, as well as in other cultures.

3. Hidden Histories
An investigation into artists who create artworks about events or people that have been lost to history. Through their artmaking, students can bring attention to voices that haven’t been heard.

Students attend an excursion day to selected art galleries and exhibitions, to inspire them in their own practice.


The practical and theoretical components of the course each constitute 50% of the marks.

• Artworks in at least three forms and use of a Visual Arts Process Diary

• Broad investigation of ideas in art criticism and art history using the three content areas of practice, conceptual practice and the frames (art criticism and art history).

HSC Course

• Development of a Body of Work and use of a Visual Arts Process Diary

• Deeper and more complex investigation of historical, modern and contemporary ideas and concepts (art criticism and art history).