Bastion of the Lytton art room

LETTER

I would like to reflect on the life of my former art teacher and compatriot Daryl File. He has been taken from us too early and it feels like a theft that needs reporting.

Those who knew Daryl will no doubt feel the weight of the loss. Maybe, like me, they are remembering his quick wit, his charming friendliness, his unique perspective and his undaunted belief in art and painting as a source of self-pride and self-worth.

Although I only occasionally bumped into him on my visits back home, the charisma of the man would instantly win you over. He would again be the larrakin teacher, bastion of the Lytton High School art room, subtle guide of precocious talent.

He was a great believer in making art, in the value of even a humble doodle with cross hatching made in biro. In that room full of skulls and gourds, bottles and driftwood (bric-a-brac designed to inspire the curriculum-numbed teeenager) we made masks of paper mache, which became our projects. His art history lessons would swing between the poles of jokes and academia. As 17 year olds, we would chat over textbooks about the Renaissance on a single table as if meeting at a cafe. We would discuss and be drawn to our own conclusions rather than lectured. We would be treated as equals, which always seemed like an honour in his presence. His art — those remarkably insightful caricatures of Gisborne folks, his emblematic Pacifica panels — is only part of his legacy.

Mason Ball, Wellington

I would like to reflect on the life of my former art teacher and compatriot Daryl File. He has been taken from us too early and it feels like a theft that needs reporting.

Those who knew Daryl will no doubt feel the weight of the loss. Maybe, like me, they are remembering his quick wit, his charming friendliness, his unique perspective and his undaunted belief in art and painting as a source of self-pride and self-worth.

Although I only occasionally bumped into him on my visits back home, the charisma of the man would instantly win you over. He would again be the larrakin teacher, bastion of the Lytton High School art room, subtle guide of precocious talent.

He was a great believer in making art, in the value of even a humble doodle with cross hatching made in biro. In that room full of skulls and gourds, bottles and driftwood (bric-a-brac designed to inspire the curriculum-numbed teeenager) we made masks of paper mache, which became our projects. His art history lessons would swing between the poles of jokes and academia. As 17 year olds, we would chat over textbooks about the Renaissance on a single table as if meeting at a cafe. We would discuss and be drawn to our own conclusions rather than lectured. We would be treated as equals, which always seemed like an honour in his presence. His art — those remarkably insightful caricatures of Gisborne folks, his emblematic Pacifica panels — is only part of his legacy.

Mason Ball, Wellington

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Tony Lee - 2 months ago
Mason, your comments resonate with me. He was a fine colleague, a good friend and teammate on the sports field. He was also one of the funniest people I've met - an amazingly ironic and sometimes dark sense of humour.

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