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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 07 | April 5, 2001

Creative educators earn Somerset, Black awards

Scholars devote careers to encouraging appreciation of the arts

by Bruce Mason staff writer

To Graeme Chalmers and Errol Durbach the awards they will receive April 10 have special personal significance -- they pay tribute to legendary UBC figures who were mentors and friends.

Chalmers, a professor of Curriculum Studies in the Faculty of Education, has earned the Sam Black Award for Education and Development in Arts.

Durbach, a professor of Theatre and English in the Faculty of Arts, will receive the Dorothy Somerset Award for Performance and Development in Arts.

"Sam was on the search committee that hired me in 1975," says Chalmers. "He was a valued colleague whose passion for teaching and art had a global impact."

Interested in international art education, Chalmers served as chief examiner in Art/Design for the International Baccalaureate Organization, vice-president of the International Society for Education through Art, and is editor of Studies in Art Education.

His research focuses on the socio-cultural foundations of art education and includes a study of gender and class in 19th-century art education and the implications of cultural diversity for discipline-based art education.

He has just completed a biography of 19th-century art educator, Walter Smith, and is working on a SSHRC-funded project to examine art education in a 19th-century boys' school, a convent, and a mechanics institute.

"Throughout my career I have encouraged teachers, students and parents to ask questions about the why of art," he says.

"Art keeps culture alive and tells us what is important, what is changing and needs to be improved."

Durbach, a world authority on Ibsen, joined UBC's English Dept. in 1967. He quickly earned a joint appointment in Theatre. He became active in the Frederic Wood Theatre, which Somerset helped create out of an army canteen hut in 1951.

"I was inspired by Dorothy's view of theatre as an important force for good in the community," he says. "It is quite wonderful to be associated with this great lady, the first person I sought out for advice when I became head of Theatre in 1988."

Durbach is author of Ibsen the Romantic, A Doll's House: Ibsen's Myth of Transformation and many articles on modern, comparative, and Commonwealth drama.

Last year he was invited with UBC students to perform part of his translation and adaptation of Peer Gynt at an Ibsen festival in Norway.

His version of Falstaff, a rearrangement of episodes from Shakespeare's history plays and comedies, will be staged in the Frederic Wood Theatre in November next year.

Sam Black's 41-year association with the university began in 1958 as a professor of Fine Arts and Art Education.

Dorothy Somerset became director of the UBC Players' Club in 1934. She served as first artistic administrative head of the Fredric Wood Theatre until her retirement in 1965.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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