VISITORS to Erskine Park High School's 18th annual Art in the Park event would be forgiven for thinking they had walked into the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Self-portraits, ceramics, paintings, installations and film-based works lined the walls and ice-cream cone sculptures took the floor on Wednesday.
Year 9 students coloured the world of 500 visitors with a collage of brightly hued photographs of items such as grass, roses, cupcakes and industrial paint, in bright green, blue, red, purple and yellow.
Head arts teacher Gennaro Serra said students were encouraged to experiment with their art.
"We tend to try push the envelope and challenge students in their perceptions of art-making and of the art world," he said.
"The students like to explore different themes, and not all of them are nice."
Depression, homelessness, cruelty to animals and a burgeoning generation gap were among the more topical themes to students' work.
Art teacher Jade Vardon said the school's students had been selected for ArtExpress from a pool of about 10,000 HSC art students for the past four years, consistently taking out prizes.
She said Art in the Park allowed students to experience different facets of the art world.
"It gives our year 11 and 12 students a really good opportunity to be the artist and take on the role of curator as well," she said.
"It's more a gallery setting than a school setting."
HSC art student Rebecca Bradley, 18, created a sculpture — about depression and mental illness — from a plaster cast of her body and more than six kilograms of melted candlewax.
"I like seeing everything come together," she said.
"You see things in bits and pieces in the classroom all the time, but it's nice to see them all set up properly."