Student receives top accolade

Chelsea Twiss, a former Pukekohe High School student, has received a top national award for her printmaking.

She came first in the NZQA Printmaking Outstanding Scholarship exam, for all level three NCEA students in the country.

Along with the high praise of being top student, she also received $2000. Chelsea also gained a scholarship in painting worth $500.

“It was very unexpected,” she says, “It actually gave me a fright.” Chelsea had never done printmaking before year 13, so it was a great surprise to be named as top student.

“My parents were proud of me, especially Mum. She’s super encouraging,” Chelsea says.

She will be presented with her award at Government House in Wellington later in the year.

Her print folio has already joined the other folios in the NZQA Top Art folio show which tours around New Zealand.

Chelsea says she has always enjoyed art and she says it’s something happens naturally. “I didn’t really realise how artistic I was until high school. I’d just doodle and draw my own things,” she says.

Whenever she got an artistic block, she says the teachers were there to help.

“I didn’t really know what to do, but the art teachers were extremely helpful.”

Art teacher Esther Hansen says it was a privilege teaching Chelsea. “She is a gifted artist. Chelsea’s quirky, lyrical and mature style pushed new boundaries in what level 3 printmaking and art students are capable of doing,” she says.

While they were required to choose a theme for the year, Chelsea says her themes were always quite vague.

“I did my board on ‘Me’. It was just how I was feeling throughout the year. It ended up fitting together.”

Pukekohe Head of Department Vicky Moore-Allan says Chelsea has matured into an artist whose work reflects her keenly intelligent responses to, and observations of life.

“The art works that she evolves from her rich internal world make for compelling viewing.  She crafts both highly realistic and detailed imagery, as well as an endless visual world of characters full of emotions, pathos, satire and wit that leave the viewer enthralled and intrigued, longing to see more.”  

After finishing high school last year, the 19 year old will be studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, starting this week.

“It’ll be different, but I’m ready for it,” Chelsea says. “I’m excited.”

As for the future after university, she is determined to do something with art.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Chelsea also wanted to thank the Pukekohe High School art department. “They’re the best. I pretty much lived in the art room. The teachers were very supportive and sacrificed their time after school to help their students.”

Vicky says, “We are so proud of Chelsea.  We are all really going to miss the magic she has brought to our world – as an incredible art student, but also as an inspirational and endearing young woman whom we love and admire.”


A close-up of Chelsea’s artwork

Chelsea in front of her painting board, which won her a $500 scholarship. Her printmaking board will be touring the country with the other top achievers later this year.

A close-up of Chelsea’s artwork

Chelsea’s art that helped her score a scholarship