Careers In Art: Lou Chamberlin

Term: 3 Term Year: 2009

Visual Art Teacher

Lou Chamberlin is a Visual Art Teacher, Star of the Sea College, Gardenvale

When you were little what did you want to become?
Art always featured strongly, so something to do with the visual arts.

What did you study at school and university?
Yep, you guessed it – Art. I was so keen that I had to study it by correspondence because it wasn’t offered at the school I attended.

What attracted you to a career in teaching?
There weren’t a lot of choices “back then”. My mother was a nurse and, as is so often the case, I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, so a career in nursing was out of the question. I couldn’t type, so I couldn’t become a secretary and didn’t want to join the public service. That left teaching. Not that I minded that option, but if there had then been the choices available even five years later, I would have enjoyed a career as an archaeologist. In my twenties I worked on a number of sites in Australia, Europe and the Middle East and loved the recording and drafting of finds. By then I was loving teaching and the stimulation of working with young people.

Any career highlights?
Being awarded a Churchill Fellowship was a highlight. It allowed me to travel to study something I felt passionate about – Puppetry – and it gave me the self-assurance to extend myself more confidently in a public forum.

What’s your favourite piece of art work?
Without a doubt my favourite art work is Guernica. The raw emotion of Picasso’s anti-war statement never fails to move me. That’s part of the genius of the man.

What period in art history inspires you the most?
I feel most energised and ‘at home’ when I’m surrounded by the middle ages. For that reason I love visiting Europe and the small villages where I feel as though I’m breathing the same air as the people of the 13th and 14th centuries. The winding streets often contain glorious surprises when you least expect them.

What book are you reading right now?
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and Dear Fatty by Dawn French.

What do you do to unwind?
Travel is always my first choice, followed closely by losing myself in a book.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I enjoy working in dry media, especially dry pastels, but always travel with my watercolour kit.

What are some of the negative aspects of your job?
The part of the job I enjoy most is the excitement and stimulation of developing new directions and activities, so the answer to that question would be the eternal paperwork that has to be done at the expense of the creativity that nourishes me both within and outside the classroom.

What is something you would love to do that you haven’t already done?
Travel features here, too. There are many places still on my list to visit. The Silk Road is near the top, up there with Eastern Europe. I’m looking forward to visiting the Kimberley next month.

Where do you get most of your inspiration?
I am always inspired by the diversity of world culture and life in other environments; often the humble rather than the exuberant.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
I have a favourite tunic/vest made by Chez in Glenferrie Rd. I can wear it with anything and it always looks good.

Who would you most like to sit next to on a flight to Europe?
Dawn French – she makes me belly laugh.

If you were speaking to a secondary school student who was showing interest in following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
Immerse yourself in the visual world; its people, its culture and architecture, and above all, its art, both exuberant and humble.