BSSC Alumna, Tahlia McCuskey, graduated from Bendigo Senior Secondary College in 2017 and first heard about the Mason Trust Bursary through her art teachers and past recipients presenting in her art classes. This year she is following in their footsteps, becoming a recipient of the bursary to aid her studies in painting at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

“I really enjoyed my time at BSSC because of the many options for arts,” she says. “I was always interested in drawing and painting so I decided to take both Art General and Studio Arts as they have different focuses. Each offered a very different experience.”

Tahlia is now in the second year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in painting and loves the environment of working in a studio surrounded by other artists with the facilities and guidance to try any new materials and ideas.

“The VCA is in a fantastic location very close to the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art,” she says. “Lots of the tutors have experience showing in these institutions as well as many other kinds of galleries, which is really valuable.”

Tahlia credits the Mason Trust Bursary with helping her experiment with different ideas, off-setting the cost of oil paints and canvases, and allowing room to make mistakes without fear.

“I also plan to put some of the funds towards a show sometime in August,” Tahlia says. “I’ve always wanted to be a practicing artist and that is what I’ll continue to work towards.

“My current paintings are exploring art and ecology and the Australian landscape and I’m excited to continue with this series, but in the future I see my practice expanding to include soundscape and sculpture.”

Tahlia’s advice to current BSSC students who wish to study art after VCE is to understand what kind of career they would like from their art and to research which universities offer the best pathway.

“When selecting applicants, many art schools look for people who’ve produced a lot of work,” she says. “They want to see a portfolio that shows lots of exploration and directions rather than only a few highly perfected pieces.”