Annual graduate exhibition gives artists a voice

Published 11 November 2019
Paulette Hayes artist with her work Control. Abuse. Kill. Paulette Hayes with some of the houses from her artwork series Control. Abuse. Kill.

For more than 25 years, Southern Cross art and design students have been exhibiting their final works in a public exhibition that explores a range of themes and concepts. Painting, drawing, digital art, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, installation and film reflects the diversity of their skills.

Control. Abuse. Kill. houses by Paulette Hayes
Close up of houses from Paulette Hayes' artwork series Control. Abuse. Kill.

It may have taken 12 months – or 425 hours – to make 79 model houses to represent the 79 women killed in Australia in 2013, but Paulette Hayes says it was worth it.

Not just for the satisfaction of seeing her artwork series Control. Abuse. Kill. exhibited as part of the Southern Cross University Graduate Exhibition, but for the message it sends. One that strongly says violence against women is not okay.

“The death of women cannot be dismissed as just a domestic incident. Instead it is a tragic loss of a mother, a daughter, a sister,” says Paulette.

“I use my art to remember these women. A house is symbolic of our body and it is also a place where women hope to be safe.

“I realised after I started my work that if I wanted to make 79 houses, I would have to work consistently all week, weekends and at night.”

Based at Lismore, Paulette is one of 17 Southern Cross University art and design graduates who have their work on display at Lismore campus.

Paulette’s model houses form Part One of her series which acknowledge the deaths of women from 2013, the same year a group of women launched the Counting the Dead initiative and began recording the deaths of women in Australia.

“I chose this year because I thought I could start at the beginning and then move through the years to memorialise all the women,” says Paulette.

“It’s always been important to me that the past is remembered, that we tell the truth for healing to occur, and that we have a place to focus our grief.”

Paulette has plans to do her Honours next year and will continue making art that bring women’s issues into focus.

Other artworks in the graduate exhibition explore a range of themes and concepts, including rising sea levels, ecological issues, human emotions and domestication.

Gold Coaster Jade Hopley’s photography looks at how the ocean’s edge visually reflects feelings of anxiety.

“One afternoon I was actually experiencing an anxiety attack, so I went outside to the beach to try and centre myself. I realised that the water’s edge was a pretty accurate visual representation of the feeling I had in my belly at that moment,” says Jade.

Bachelor of Art and Design course coordinator Dr Stephen Garrett says that attending art school allows students to shift their perceptions of who they are in the world, as well as how they see the world.

“Art school unlocks a curiosity for looking and has an expectation that for that looking to be turned inward,” he says.

“In doing so, we, as art students, understand our process of making art and therefore what makes us tick as artists. This is a lifelong pursuit, as an artist’s practice is an always evolving, dynamic and fluid process.”

The Graduate Exhibition was officially opened on Friday, 8 November and will be open to the public from November 9 to 23 from 10am to 4pm at V Block, Lismore campus (closed on Sundays).

Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or