Student art returns to Armory Gallery

Sunflowers, alpacas and cityscapes are among the hundreds of artworks lining the walls of the Armory Gallery, marking the long-awaited return of Operation Art’s physical display at Sydney Olympic Park.

The 27th edition of the annual exhibition, which encourages school students from kindergarten to Year 10 to design artwork for sick children in hospital, has opened its doors and features the talents of more than 650 NSW students.

From the artworks submitted, 50 will be chosen to be displayed at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) as part of their permanent collection for thousands of patients, families and staff alike to enjoy.

Ivy Baddock, Art Curator at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW), had the difficult task of selecting the finalists and said the standard of work was once again impressive.

“Operation Art is one of the longest running arts in health initiatives in NSW. It is unique because it engages both the students and school communities that produce the work, as well as offering our patients and families respite from the clinical hospital environment,” Ivy said.

“The artworks completed through Operation Art are some of the most popular in our collection and help to reduce stress, make our hospitals more welcoming and enhance spaces where quiet moments can occur.”

The judging panel also included Allie Holland, whose child Asher has been treated at the Hospital for 15 years for complex conditions. They both love the art collection so much that she has created an Instagram account dedicated to its artworks, with Allie saying that they bring so much more than colour to the clinical walls.

“It has been a hard journey in hospital, but the artworks brighten my day and make each stay easier for our family. Art is important in a hospital setting and we’ve learned how much it impacts everyone positively – from patients and their families, to staff,” Allie said.

“Art speaks expression and hope through all its colours. Without saying a word it can lift and inspire you, and bring a burst of warmth that makes you smile deep down in your heart. It brings connection and so much joy.”

The 2022 exhibition was officially opened on Saturday, 17 September. In addition to the hundreds of artworks being unveiled, the award winners were announced.

Ella Barrett of Kurri Kurri Public School won the Junior Curator’s Choice award for her artwork titled Thong print cockatoo. The Senior Curator’s Choice award went to Tully McGrouther from Winmalee High School for her artwork Anatidae aka Duck.

The Danny Eastwood Indigenous Art award, judged by its namesake, was awarded to Tilly Moore for her artwork Alpaca my bag. Tilly is a Gumbaynggirr girl who lives on Worimi Land and attends Cathering McAuley Catholic College, Medowie.

Teacher Lindy Stewart and student Dusty Plum, from Booligal Public School in the Riverina, took out the Outstanding Teacher and Student award.

Heidi Windeisen, Operation Art Officer at the NSW Department of Education’s Arts Unit, said the exhibition is not only a great way to show case the talents of students, but also how art can be used as a healing tool.

“Teachers know they can inspire their students to create artworks for sick children through Operation Art, to give purpose to their work and understand that visual arts can promote a feeling of joy to those who spend much of their time in hospitals,” Heidi said.

The Operation Art exhibition is on display at the Armory Gallery every weekend until 30 October, and daily during the school holidays from 26 September to 7 October. It is open from 10am to 4pm and entry is free.

A selection of artworks are also being projected as a light display on the exterior of The Pullman Hotel at Sydney Olympic Park for the community to enjoy.

 Operation Art is an initiative of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in association with the Department of Education and in collaboration with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority