Inspiration & Exhibitions: Q+A with Sophia Gawan-Taylor


Sophia Gawan-Taylor is a year 11 IB student studying in Western Australia at the Presbyterian Ladies' College Perth. Passports showcased her artwork and photography and asked her some questions about her work. 

How did you get into art? 

The cliché answer would be that ‘I’ve always had a tendency to draw, or have always been drawn to art’, but honestly, I used to value art quite lowly and have only recently developed my passion for it. The first time I took art seriously was during our school’s year 10 ‘personal project’, where I had my created my own public solo exhibition in Fremantle, Perth. Ever since then, I haven’t stopped creating.

What do you consider your greatest achievement (in art) to be?

I don’t want to seem arrogant, but it’s hard to choose one. I’ve been a finalist for Hyperfest & Nedlands ‘Emerge’, gotten my art into A Maze of Story (a charity auction), created my own public solo exhibition, and won my school’s art prize. However, I would describe my greatest achievement in art was when I was voted as ‘Visual Arts Captain’ at my school, to have been considered a good leader in the arts by both friends, students, and teachers was an extremely proud moment for me. Although, no achievement is better than finishing a new artwork and seeing that it’s better than the last one you did.

Where have you showcased your art, and what has that experience been like?

I’ve mostly just submitted my artwork to local art awards and shown it to friends, but as I’ve mentioned, I created my own public solo exhibition, which was in Kidogo Arthouse Gallery in Perth, Fremantle. That experience was both amazing and terrifying. Being only 14, it was daunting to put 31 of my paintings up on display; open to any judgement, criticism and praise. A couple of my paintings that I showcased were studies of a local artist, and one of her agents visited my exhibition. Long story short, she publicly yelled at me and threatened legal action against me. Being only freshly 14 and perhaps consisting of a mixture of naïveté, hope and a dash of stupidity, I cried and feared for my life. Luckily, I wasn’t prosecuted and even got to meet the artist (and at the time role model), even if under unfortunate circumstances, it was an experience I will never forget. I drew a lot from that experience, and learned a lot of lessons that I hope others can learn from.

Where do you find sources of inspiration?

Honestly, everywhere. There’s inspiration anywhere if you look hard enough, But If I were to be more specific, for me, I would say local art galleries, other young artists, and the people around me. A great place I look for inspiration for a new piece on Tumblr. There are so many artists that post their work on there, that may not show their artwork anywhere else.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what the IB program is like at your school?

The IB program at my school (Presbyterian Ladies College’ Perth) is quite small, but it’s good because we get a lot of specialized and focused attention from teachers that want to see us do well. As well as that we’re a close-knit group.

Our IB cohort consists of 19 female students, but we also have cross campus classes with our brother school Scotch, who has a cohort of 40 boys. So, we catch buses between our two campuses for specific classes. IB is an important part of our schools’ promotion, but we also have WACE (Western Australian certificate curriculum), which most people take (approximately 130 students).

My art class only has 9 students including 2 students from our brother school Scotch. Since we have such a small class, we’re quite a close-knit family group and we all get along well.

 How has IB influenced your art?

Well, the IB Visual Arts program has forced me to search outside my boundaries, explore various themes and try out different media. As much as I may hate to say it, I am thankful for the requirements of ‘exploration’ in the VA curriculum.

What art-related goals do you have?

My goals aren’t that big. I would say is just to aim at a higher quality of work each time a start a new piece. To try and get my name out there, and never stop being creative.