Another great story – from art teacher Jeff Hewett

School Hall 1

School Hall

School Hall

Kiama High School staff 1981

As for the Rees artworks, I can tell you a bit about their secret life…

I began art teaching at Kiama High in 1980 working through to 2013 and was very familiar with the works.

I learned about them from a woodwork teacher, John Daniel, who recognised their historical significance and value. John was interested in their preservation and discussed the idea of notifying Wollongong Gallery of their existence.( I believe he did so.)

The works were screwed to the wall of the school hall, a building that served many functions. Students could view the works upon their arrival in year 7 and wave goodbye on graduation day 6 years later.

They were the only thing to look at during longwinded assemblies and could be stared at during exams when the paper had been completed with an hour to go.

For teachers doing exam supervision, watching students writing for an hour or sometimes two hours at a time, the artworks became objects of scrutiny. When on duty with other teachers I was often asked my opinion and was able to explain their significance.

The hall also served as a wet weather shelter area at lunchtimes and as an undercover teaching space for PE classes. As a result the artworks were subjected to attack from a variety of food material and ball types. They have been wiped down with industrial cleaners by the cleaning staff and suffered the imprint of balls, yet, have managed to survive.

Every 15 years or so the hall was painted, whether it needed it or not, and it was after one such event that the works were not returned to the wall.

I have personally saved the works on at least three occasions when the Principal of the day has offered them to the art department so that we could paint over them.

I’ve managed to save them from destruction but unfortunately, not from the cockroaches and pigeons.

We always thought it would be a great idea to have an exhibition of the works along with examples of the artists current work (be it painting or architecture) and have the artists comment on the development of their styles and the influence of Lloyd Rees on their development as artists.

I am so pleased that you have managed to put a similar idea in place and commend you for your efforts.

Best wishes, Jeff Hewett.

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