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The Rhetoric of Things is the latest offering by Visual Arts curriculum method students from the School of Teacher Education at CSU Bathurst. This year, we break from tradition by sharing our artworks with you, the audience, in a purely virtual exhibition. This format is illustrative of the nature of studying by distance education and provides a contrast with the era of our starting point and the context of contemporary teaching, learning and of course, artmaking.

As a part of their studies to become secondary Visual Arts teachers, this talented group of 18 students have collaborated via a virtual classroom to explore selected objects and concepts associated with the Chifley Home and Education Centre in Bathurst, to generate responses and create artworks. They have engaged in independent artmaking practice, as well as sharing and providing feedback on each other’s progress throughout the process. What better way to learn how to teach a subject than to participate in that subject as learners, in an authentic, if abbreviated, way? Teaching and learning simultaneously, contributing to and facilitating the work of the entire group, has been the focus of our project.

The artworks in this exhibition are the culmination of an intense period of hard work, commitment and the occasional bout of risk-taking! Each submission presents a unique, informed and personal re-interpretation of an aspect of Australian history and culture, based on the narrative provided by the collection of this valued site of learning, the Chifley Home.

The title of this exhibition invites the audience to respond in their own way to our artistic discourses – all derived from a simple household object from the collection. Each object has spoken to the artist in a different way, linking the world of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley with aspects of our own personal experiences and histories – something we hope may be transferred in turn to our audience as they take a self-guided tour of this exhibition.