The artist behind a cryptic picture which left some HSC kids stumped has revealed the true intentions to the more than 60,000 students who sat their exam today.

Students were given a stylised image of a man rowing a boat with a pencil through a wild sea etched with seemingly random words.

They were asked to how the image used a variety of language forms and features to communicate ideas about being creative.

It left students like Bradfield Senior College Year 12 student stumped - not due to the image - but because of the accompanying questions.

"The words were so odd - some of them I had no idea what they even meant, some more simple words like sun and honey were very, very random but some of them I had never even seen before," she said.

 

2020 HSC students were asked to respond to this image by Seattle-based artist Julie Paschkis who said her work was about encouraging students to think creatively.
2020 HSC students were asked to respond to this image by Seattle-based artist Julie Paschkis who said her work was about encouraging students to think creatively.

 

"In class we learnt about how to dissect images… It was confusing being given a picture - do we talk about the features visually like colour, or do we solely talk about words because that was what was in the question?"

Seattle-based artist Julie Paschkis told The Daily Telegraph while schools teach children to score well on tests, she wants children to savour language and to play with words and "wander to an undetermined destination."

"At least in the States, the schools have started teaching to tests and there is one right answer, and I like the idea that things are more open ended," she said.

"I love language and I feel like when you're really familiar with a word you go right to the meaning but when you don't know a word sometimes you hear the sound of it or what it looks like, it can take you to other places," Ms Paschkis said.

"When I put a word in a painting I am thinking about the meaning of it, but I am also thinking about the sound of it or the look of it, it is a more playful approach to the language, it is not just one meaning.

"It is not like I don't think there are facts for you to learn, but my hope in education is that there is room for open ended exploration."

She originally did the painting at the request of a local Seattle library which ran a program called playing with words.

"And so I loved words and I love painting so I did that, it has set off a whole bunch of other paintings I have done over the years that included words," she said.

 

Originally published as Can you make sense of this cryptic HSC question?



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