Masada College farewells and acknowledges Daphne Flax, as she heads to retirement, after 35 years of teaching Visual Arts at the College. The College recognises her significant contribution, especially the development a culture of excellence in Visual Arts at Masada. Ryan Gill, Head of Senior School at Masada says “On behalf of everyone at Masada College, I extend my appreciation for all that Daphne has contributed to the lives of generations of young people. Her talents and unwavering support for our students and the College has been admired and revered.”
Initially Daphne taught all school levels and enjoyed teaching receptive juniors as much as the more committed Year 12 students. Ten years into the position, Flax became Head of Creative Arts.
Daphne believes that the phenomenal growth in Visual Arts education at Masada came as a result of the serendipity between school management policy and her personal vision and aspiration. “With a predisposition to a playfulness with ideas, materials and processes and a tolerance for ambiguity, Masada was able to provide unique opportunities for transformation and innovation,” she explains, “The wonderful results came from teasing out ideas rather than finding premature closure.”
The repute of Masada College Visual Arts strengthened and solidified with Daphne at the helm. The Visual Arts department grew because the classes were challenging and sensory. Daphne initiated programs with exciting stimuli – from boats to rocks to lotus flowers that transformed over weeks as classes observed them, the classroom was never dull. Ever cognisant of political, economic, environmental, social and technological changes the aim of the Visual Art department was to remain contemporary and relevant.
As in so many other disciplines, Flax identifies Technology as a major force of change during her career. “Technology has greatly impacted students. It has changed the way students do research, the way they think, the artworks we are able to look at and the artworks the students make as well as the communication and accessibility between student and teacher.
Excellent HSC results as well as the consistent ARTEXPRESS nominations and selections also engendered trust and aspiration. More and more students selected the subject. Two of her students topped the state in Art (Tandi Rabinowitz and her own son, Clifford Flax). Daphne was invited to join the NSW panel of HSC final exam markers. She lectured at several Visual Arts teachers symposiums at the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Arts, in New York and other venues. She was awarded the New South Wales Quality Teaching Award, for contributing significantly to critical and historical studies as well as supporting creative art making practice.
Asked how she feels about her retirement, Daphne says that she does leave with a sense of accomplishment. “The gift of longevity in a profession is to see the seed planted flourish and bear fruit. This pertains to each student as well as to the vivacity of the Visual Arts Department at Masada College which has a bright future”, she adds.