CDU lecturer captures school life in oil paintings

30-Mar-2015

Dr Al Strangeways puts the finishing touches to one of the works in “Community: The People of the School” exhibition. Image: Bean Strangeways

Dr Al Strangeways puts the finishing touches to one of the works in “Community: The People of the School” exhibition. Image: Bean Strangeways


Charles Darwin University education lecturer and self-taught artist Al Strangeways will present a solo exhibition of oil paintings at the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs this week.

Dr Strangeways said the collection of realist portraits was based on the people she had met at the Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) Community Education Centre, where she has taught CDU’s Bachelor of Teaching and Learning Pre-service program for the past five years.

“The paintings of students, parents, teachers and other staff explore the notion that the school is much more than the place and its activities, but is foundationally the people and their relationships with each other,” Dr Strangeways said.

“The exhibition is a culmination of my observations and reflections on what constitutes the community of a school and the effects that a sense of community has on school life.”

Dr Strangeways said the 40 works started as pencil and ink sketches in classrooms and other spaces at the school.

“The portraits are an attempt to glimpse what the poet GM Hopkins called the ‘inscape’ of the subjects; the constantly changing web of elements that constitute the unique nature of an individual.

“In each work I have endeavoured to capture a moment of identity as it were: exploring how relationships with others, with the environment and with the stories the sitters tell, can serve to characterise that moment.”

Dr Strangeways said there had been a synergy between her work in teacher education and in her art practice as she prepared works for the exhibition.

“I found it interesting that my arts practice is converging with my academic research into the nature of professional identity of teachers and that the two endeavours are feeding into each other more and more.”

The exhibition “Community: The People of the School” will be open to the public at Araluen Arts Centre from April 4 until May 10.