Reg Mombassa's new artwork 'Onwards and Upwards' has been created to commemorate the resilience of HSC year 12 students in 2020.

Reg Mombassa’s new artwork ‘Onwards and Upwards’ has been created to commemorate the resilience of HSC year 12 students in 2020.Credit:Reg Mombassa

Mombassa initially found the project difficult to approach, but after “fiddling around with sketches” he arrived at an image of a koala superhero. The artwork, titled ‘Onwards and upwards‘, is in the signature style of his Mambo designs and features the caped marsupial shooting through the sky.

“I thought this would be an optimistic image. Students might also be open to an Australian animal superhero – especially an animal itself that has gone through difficult times this year with drought and bushfire,” Mombassa said.

Reg Mombassa at his home in Sydney’s Inner West.

Reg Mombassa at his home in Sydney’s Inner West.Credit:Jessica Hromas

As a father of three children, now in their thirties, Mombassa recalls their different experiences of the HSC. “Some of them found it a little bit harrowing, and some didn’t,” he said. But he holds sympathy for the students who had to experience that stress during the pandemic.

“The whole virus thing obviously makes old people feel nervous, but it has seemed to have a harsher negative impact on young people because it’s affected their studies, trying to get work, and their social life has been interfered with as well,” he said.

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“[For] the students that have put up with these difficult conditions and got through it, I would hope that would be a positive thing for them: they can still succeed in adverse situations and get above any difficulties and keep going.”

The artwork’s title is a nod to his hope that students will harness the strengths they uncovered this year and carry them into the future. “I enjoyed managing to come up with an image,” he said. “We’ll see what the students think.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the artwork was a tribute to the perseverance of this year’s HSC students.

“This year, we have seen students band together, supporting one another, adapting to change and remaining focused. It was not the year they expected, but I am so proud of the way students have risen to the challenge,” she said.

Students receive their HSC results from 6 am on Friday, December 18. The full HSC Honour Roll will appear in Monday’s print Sydney Morning Herald.

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