HE CREATED drawings while in the midst of 400-million-year-old limestone at Carey's Cave near Canberra.
But it was seeing a bronze statue of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha at the National Gallery of Australia that inspired artist Victor Bao's most important work.
"Being in Canberra — and sharing the story of Ganesha — has actually given me the biggest idea for my HSC [visual arts] major work," Victor, a year 11 student at Crestwood High School, said.
He was in Canberra last month as part of a 2013 National Summer Art Scholarship.
"The scholarships are extremely competitive, with only 16 being selected — two from each state and territory across Australia — from an applicant pool of over 500 people [a record number]," a spokeswoman said.
Applicants were asked to produce a visual response to Brent Harris's Plato's cave: painting no.4, 2005.
"Mine had a lot of Greek symbols; truth, for example," Victor said.
Successful applicants got to spend a week in Canberra, attending workshops, tours and discussions based on works of art in the National Gallery of Australia's collection, with a specific focus on the current major exhibition, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris and the Moulin Rouge.
"We also went into Carey's Cave to draw," Victor of Baulkham Hills said.
"It was mesmerising down there. Everything was so beautiful."
Victor said he especially enjoyed going behind the scenes at the gallery as part of his scholarship.
"Being in Canberra has altogether changed my perception of art and what I want to do," he said.