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'We should integrate the Greek culture into the Australian' - Jack Condous, OAM

Jack Condous portrait by famous Australian artist Philip David Source: Supplied

Greek Australian and proud Kastellorizian Jack Condous was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the visual arts and education after bringing art into Australian schools for the past five decades.

Originally hailing from the Greek island of Kastellorizo, Jack Condous has since travelled to dozens of countries, come into contact with many different cultures and integrated his experiences into the Australian education system.

Speaking to SBS Greek, he shared his life experiences and the importance of art in the education and in everyday living. 


Listen to Jack Condous' full interview (in Greek) with SBS Greek here: 


Going back to where it all began, Jack Condous says "I went to Adelaide Teachers College in 1957, I excelled as an art teacher and I taught for a number of schools in Adelaide."

From there, he says "I got appointed to Darwin where I met my wife and two of my children were born. I came back to Adelaide then taught a number of schools and received a full-time teacher exchange."

"I went to America in 1968 and did a Master’s Degree. I came back to South Australia and was appointed as the youngest inspector of art in the South Australian education system."

Throughout this epic teaching experience, its hardly surprising that Condous soon learned to value the importance of education to society. 

"I do believe that education is paramount to success," he says. "Hence my involvement in the University of South Australia with the Friends of the South Australian Society - which I was made a Fellow of in 2013."

So what influences did Condous' Greek background play when he decided to be involved with art?

"When I was a young fella I was a boy in the Greek Orthodox Church," he says. "I obviously loved everything about the culture and since I've travelled to Europe, and I’ve travelled to Kastellorizo island and I've been involved with many things."

"I've seen museums and the ancient relics of the island of Kastellorizo which I'd much appreciated it."

From here, Condous' interests expanded beyond just Greek culture and into other international cultures.

"Ι have developed an interest in cultures of different societies," he says. "When I was president of International Society for Education, I travelled with government’s support to 28 different countries, I met a lot of people involved in art in education, the visual arts in particular at both of the secondary and tertiary level."

Jack Condous at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts.
Jack Condous at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts.

Something that Condous believes firmly is that we should be doing more to teach art to our young people. "I wish the art was as important as sports are which is very important to the Australian culture," he says.

"Teachers have a very strong influence on the young mind and creative people cut across all avenues. Creativity could be found in different forms - through science, mathematics etc - I think there's a joy in spreading the creativity across the cultural across a number of subjects."

Condous says that its the obligation of teachers to encourage this creativity. "I do believe that our teachers have a strong influence to prepare and to educate their students in a broad spectrum because when you make a work of art,  you may want to consider the environment. "

"It’s important today that adults teach children of the Greek culture."

Condous also says that teaching Australian students about their Greek heritage is something that will help foster this creativity. 

"It’s important today that adults teach children of the Greek culture," he says.

"But we have to be careful not to filter so much and dilute it to the point where it disappears."

"I think hanging on to those values, exploring and advancing them, using the influences of Australian culture is very important today." 

Condous says that is such art an important element of today's educational system because, "Art can relate to so many different things."

He continues, "by educating the young, they will learn to appreciate the environment;   they will learn to live a cultured life which is important."

He says, "This is better rather than trashing and not believing in good things that have good values, good design and good principles."

Jack Condous is well-known in Adelaide for sharing his garden products with his neighbors.
Jack Condous is well-known in Adelaide for sharing his garden products with his neighbors.

Condous also says that he hopes the State and Federal Governments will become more involved in assisting the art industry in Australia. "I'm hoping that by the influence of people like myself, having achieved this marvellous award, that they can influence the universities and the secondary schools by acting as a consultant."

He says in doing this, they can "advise the government that the arts are a very important asset of creativity in our society."

"I'm hoping that we will continue to put money into the training and development of capable and creative young people, teachers and lecturers who can influence young people and with good principles in the visual arts where they in turn will carry on."

Source SBS Greek