Meet Our Talented Visual Arts Team

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L to R: Emma Ritchie, Asha Brown and Ari Flora, Ari Flora and Jan Withers, Jan Withers and Ari Flora

The Visual Arts Department at Santa Maria is committed to providing students with expert guidance in terms of skills and processes. The team keeps abreast of current trends through their own passion and by immersing themselves in art, regularly attending exhibitions in Perth, interstate and overseas, in their own time and through the College Visual Arts tour.

The team provides students with opportunities to work with Western Australian artists, which gives them a broad variety of approaches and styles. Most of the department ideas for projects come from travels and gallery visits.

With each member of the Visual Arts team a practicing artist themselves, it is no wonder that many of our students are selected to exhibit at the Year 12 Perspectives each year.

We interviewed the team this week, in light of a large number of girls receiving awards at the Atwell Youth awards recently.

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L to R: Jan Withers, Ari Flora and Asha Brown

JAN WITHERS, Head of Visual Arts

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
I completed a degree in Crafts at Curtin University, majoring in Jewellery. Since teaching, however, I have developed a passion for a variety of disciplines, as I am so lucky to get to try so many different things through what we do here with our students.

What is your area of expertise/interests?
My area of interest has always been in jewellery, however, I have more recently completed works in pencil, being really inspired by New York-based Australian artist, CJ Hendry. I also love to paint in both acrylics and oils.

What do you enjoy about teaching art?
I absolutely love everything about teaching art! I have been teaching for over 30 years and I can honestly say I love it just as much as I did when starting out as an enthusiastic graduate! I love working with my students, watching them being experimental and creative, continually challenging themselves to achieve amazing work. I also love being part of a team of like-minded creatives. As a staff, we are really on the same page when it comes to what we do here and what we are committed to achieving. We work so well collaboratively and always share ideas. I have also had some amazing opportunities to participate in tours overseas with the students, visiting some of the most famous galleries all over the world.

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
We work towards having an exhibition as a staff group every two years, so after our last one in December at the Moore’s Gallery, we are already in discussion about the next one. It is a wonderful opportunity to exhibit and to have the opportunity to create contacts to sell further work on a regular basis.

ARIANNE FLORA, Visual Arts Teacher

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
I loved Art at school and was one of the girls that hung out in the art room all the time. After travelling and working overseas I went to ECU and did my Visual Arts degree with a major in Printmaking, and then a Dip Ed!

 What is your area of expertise/interests?
I firstly loved textiles at school, then did a Printmaking major, which was very varied in media. Now I’m tending to paint and illustrate more.

What do you enjoy about teaching art?
I think I love the variety of the projects and programs, we never repeat anything, so it’s always fresh and the staff are always learning as well. And I love the contact with the students and building relationships with them, I think I would feel isolated working in a studio by myself!

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
We have been exhibiting together about every two years, which is very important professionally, keeping us and our work honest and accountable. My work can be found at ‘Arianne Flora – Artbox’ on Facebook.

ASHA BROWN, Visual Arts Teacher

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
I completed a BA (Art) at Curtin University and practised in a range of mediums over the three years. I have exhibited in multiple group shows, recently exhibited at the Art Upmarket and work on commissions in my spare time.

What is your area of expertise/interests?
I work predominantly in the area of illustration, creating representational drawings that capture realism through detail and implied texture.

What do you enjoy about teaching art?
I enjoy being surrounded by very creative individuals. Each student brings their own interpretation and ideas to the class and I enjoy seeing them express themselves through creativity. I am also very lucky to work in a very supportive department.

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
No exhibitions currently planned, I do however have an Instagram page, Asha Brown Art, where my work can be viewed.

KRISTY HERBERT, Visual Arts Teacher

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
I studied Fine Arts at Curtin University where I gained a degree majoring in Painting and Printmaking. I love to paint using oil paints.

What is your area of expertise/interests?
My areas of interest are printmaking and creating functional ceramic pieces of art. I also enjoy creating artworks based on the theme of nature.

What do you enjoy about teaching art?
When teaching art, I love the fantastic ideas that students always bring to their work, the joy they have when experiencing new materials or techniques and to see them so proud of their own work.

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
I don’t have any exhibitions planned as I am focusing all of my creative energy into my current renovation; transforming my home from an ugly 70s style clinker brick house into a beautiful light and bright family home. While painting skirting boards may not be as exciting as creating an oil painting, I do find it very satisfying and I am immensely proud of my hard work.

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L to R: Kristy Herbert, Jaye Quin and Emma Ritchie

JAYE QUIN, Art Technician

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
My love and involvement in art began as a student at Applecross Senior High School, leading me to a Diploma in Fashion Design at TAFE. Since then, I have worked for many years in art retail, but it was when I married and moved to Canada that I discovered my passion for bookbinding.

What is your area of expertise/interests?
I have a Cert IV in Bookbinding and Restoration and have travelled to Italy three times to study and recreate ancient methods of binding. I also have a love of textile art and have been involved with Western Australian Fibre and Textiles Association for 10 years, exhibiting regularly with the WAFTA members.

What do you enjoy about being involved in the Visual Arts Department?
In my position as Art Technician, I feel I have found the perfect job. Not only do I have a huge variety of tasks, but I am also surrounded by creativity and a group of women who are passionate about teaching and practicing art. I am also lucky to be able to call these women friends.

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
As a staff member of the Art Department, I have been in five group exhibitions. I have regularly submitted artwork to WAFTA, City of Melville Art Awards and various bookbinding association exhibitions. I am looking forward to our group’s next exhibition in a year or two.

EMMA RITCHIE (Class of 2012), Art Technician

Tell us a little about your background as an artist
My background was originally in Fashion Design which I studied for three years. I also worked in the industry with local labels, then started my own label, Pretty Pool Swimwear, where I am able to design all my own prints and patterns.

What is your area of expertise/interests?
My interest is in textile design. I love designing and developing prints.

What do you enjoy about being involved in the Art Department?
I love being a technician, coming into my second year working at Santa Maria. It has been great fun being able to interact with the students. I like talking to them about what they are working on, or what they are wanting to do after school, and then having them come to me for guidance. It has been a really rewarding experience.

Do you have an exhibition coming up or where can we find your work?
I have my latest collection for Pretty Pool Swimwear to drop in the coming months. It can be found at www.prettypoolswimwear.net or on our Instagram @prettypoolswimwear

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L to R: Jaye Quin, Ari Flora, Jan Withers

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Linda Stade
Santa Maria College
Santa Maria College is located in Attadale in Western Australia, 16 km from the Perth CBD. We offer a Catholic education for girls in Years 5 – 12 and have 1300 students, including 152 boarders. Our goal is to assist students to become self-directed and independent learners. Santa Maria College consistently performs well and ranks in the top 10 schools in Perth in terms of median ATAR.
If you are interested in more information about the school please click HERE for an Enrolment Pack and HERE to book a College Tour.

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This article is brought to you by Santa Maria College a WA Catholic Girls Schools – Years 5 – 12

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