07. canberra school of art career

I tried to get a job in Canberra and told potential employers that I'd been doing in teacher education but they weren't interested at all, so I applied for a job that came up at the Canberra art school and got that so again I thought I was quite fortunate because I felt I had gone back to my roots. And I was glad to teach at an art school so I was able to continue my art profession as opposed to education. I was a lecturer at the Canberra School of Art for 25 years and I loved it and I really like art students. I'm quite pedagogically inclined.

 

Did you see teaching at art school almost like leisure in a sense?

 

Yes I loved my work, although I suffered profound distress from the first marriage, it led me on to other things. I found out in the WRENS this is a job, it's not work, it's a job, I'm doing for money. I want to do something that will continue for the rest of my life. I'm still continuing my profession, I want to do something that is not a job but is part of my life. I'm learning something all the time and I really like it. I noted as I taught I had a certain emphasis that was to nurture and because my self confidence wasn't strong, I tended to be very covert. I like teaching, its like being an actor. You have to perform because you have to attract attention, so I was quite good at performing. I was the first woman full-time lecturer to be appointed to the Council of Art. There was all these men but I'm still not out there in the world as I should be which is my next adventure, because I can now sit back and say well you've done quite well but really you're as good as anybody else. And I should be out there, but I have a certain reluctance to be visible. I won't belong to a group, I won't butter up this person, I'll always be independent and if I'd go to a meeting my philosophy was to give an independent opinion.

 

Because I've an inclination to be singular I decided not to be married anymore. So I hadn't been in Australia more than two or three years before I had to decide that it was too early to have got married and I suffered through the first decade of my professional life from profound depression. It was really quite awful but it was reactive depression.

 

I liked coming to Australia and I like what I've done and I'm less emotionally stressed if I'm by myself, not that I'm not good friends with my husband and son, but I feel happier single. The trauma was too profound.

 

I left the art school prematurely because of trauma. I suffered abuse bullying at the art school by head of department because I became, in his eyes, too significant and he was a man and liked to swan around the world. He was German and very misogynistic one of those people who seem to be very nice, but they’re not quite nice and some of the people wanted to come to the art school and work with me which he didn't like. When I won an art award, he persecuted me which was quite awful and nobody would believe that I was being abused, intellectual abuse, which is quite terrible. I became the lowest of the low he gave me the worst jobs.

 

I was humiliated and nobody would believe. In the end I became quite ill and went to Comcare and it was investigated and it was quite clear that I had been treated badly. Comcare were terrific and they investigated him and they said yes you've been treated badly, so I took a semester off with post traumatic stress symptoms. I couldn't go near the art school without becoming violently ill and I had to go to trauma counselling and the woman there was fantastic. I went back and went to a new department teaching art on computer and I did it for two years but I was profoundly fatigued. I went to a member of the academic union. They were terrific in the 1990s, sexual harassment could be coped with, but intellectual harassment couldn't be, so I retired.


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