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Our Alumni at work – Jo Green

Jo Green with one of the paper tea cups from the AfterLife Dialogues exhibition Jo Green with one of the paper tea cups from the AfterLife Dialogues exhibition

A recent art exhibition in Darwin featured an assortment of tea cups made from the pages of an old text book of musical scores. Delicate and intriguing, they were the handiwork of CDU visual arts graduate and Top End secondary school teacher Jo Green, who chose paper to express the idea that time spent connecting with work colleagues over a cup of tea, was time well spent.

What’s the story behind the tea cups in the AfterLife Dialogues exhibition?

The tea cups symbolise the conversations staff have with each other over a cup of tea. A simple luxury in a sometimes chaotic school environment, they represent a way to connect with colleagues, develop dialogues and build relationships in the work community.

AfterLife Dialogues is a series of annual exhibitions featuring works by a group of local and emerging Darwin artists who support each other’s creative pursuits through the shared process of exhibiting together. It’s an exploration of the boundaries between art practice and work life and serves to encourage work participation in our artistic practice.

Explain your fascination for paper as an art medium?

My fascination with paper has been almost obsessive. It is something I have tested to its limits over many years. I am interested in the texture, the surface, the feel and how paper behaves when manipulated, pulped, weathered and sculptured.

I have made my own paper from supermarket catalogues, cut into it with a scalpel to create silhouettes and shapes based on the urban landscape, and more recently, created tea cups with discarded text books.

Have you always been intrigued by art and design: how so …?

Both have played a huge role in shaping my artistic practice. I have drawn, sketched and felt an overarching need to create for as long as I can remember. My background in design, and role as an educator, has forced me to focus on the simple elements and principles of design.

What prompted you to finally enrol in a visual arts course?

I wanted to challenge myself. I had a well-paid job, but was at a point in life where I wanted to get a deeper level of understanding of the world I loved. I was thirsty for more knowledge, and so enrolling in a visual arts course was the best decision I’ve ever made.

What was the highlight during your seven years as a part-time student?

One of the highlights was having my work selected for exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts’ Hatched Exhibition in 2010. This was a huge compliment that gave me confidence in my abilities as an artist. Another highlight would be the connections made with the women who make up the AfterLife Dialogues group. We have been friends since second year and remain closely linked through our artistic practice.

How did the ensuing Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning change the course of your life?

Becoming a teacher was the perfect way to combine my thirst for knowledge and love for the arts. It has given me a career pathway that allows me to learn new techniques, look at new artists, trial different media, attend workshops and focus on my specialty, visual art and design.

Describe a typical day in the life as a secondary school art and design teacher?

It’s hectic from start to end. I race to get my two boys to school and when I finally arrive at work, it’s organised chaos. I eat on the run and rarely sit to have a cup of tea, but I do love it. I teach visual art and design and I get a kick out of seeing kids proud of their work and their achievements.

Who or what inspires you?

I am a greeny at heart, very much inspired by the urban landscape. I love shapes and texture. I am always looking at and analysing the shape of plants, leaves, branches and the space around.

What does the future hold for Jo Green?

I am always making and creating works. Some of my current projects are for next year’s instalment of the AfterLife Exhibition. But teaching and being a mum takes up most of my time. I am also looking at undertaking a Visual Art Honours course in the near future.