It is easy to feel history when you are walking down a 500 year old cobblestone road in Italy. Our story – the story of billions of people have flowed down such roads every day. A story that is worn into the stones and written on the walls. You can see it and you can touch it. And most importantly you can read it.
The oldest typewriter I currently own is about 115 years old. It too has a history that has been written for others to read. But it is also a part of that history that I can touch and enjoy.
What we often forget is that we’ve become part of that history. We don’t usually feel that. Sometimes we know when we’re going to be involved in a big part of it, but for the most part we just feel like another set of feet on that ageing cobblestone road.
As many people have read on this very blog some time back, I documented some of the final days of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane with my photography. That was a piece of history that I saw coming, and as the hospital closed I put some of those photos up as a tribute to a place that I loved to work in, and to be honest missed dearly.
And then I was done with it and that part of history was done… Or so I thought.
Today I’m on my first day of a much needed break from work at the hospital I currently work at. I was eagerly watching the clock as the minutes slowly ticked down throughout the day. At three hours to the end of my shift I looked at the clock and lamented about how the next three hours were going to be the longest of my life. They turned out to be anything but.
Last week I formally notified my manager that I was going to reduce my hours significantly in the department. The change is because I’ve taken up hours in another hospital, in a very high profile department. It was a choice of career and experience over happiness and comfort. I love where I’m currently working, but the new job offers some career advantages that I don’t have in my current role. I start with them after I finish my leave.
Excited about my impending break and new career opportunities, I was already feeling on top of the world and eager to get going. Most of this year has been hard work and I’ve been tired and unmotivated. This was a well needed boost. At 3 hours till shift’s end I went to the mail room to collect the department’s correspondence, where I discovered a package personally addressed to me with the Children’s Hospital in Brisbane listed as the sender’s address.
I sat down with a friend in an office out the back of the ward and opened it. There in my hand I held a pre-release copy of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland’s Queensland History Journal. A journal produced by the society and is sponsored by the University of Queensland Library.
Yesterday was the day that I became an academically published author. Or more accurately, I am a co-author.
After reading my blog about the Royal Children’s Hospital last year, Professor John Pearn AO – an accomplished author, emeritus professor of the University of Queensland’s school of medicine and Order of Australia awardee asked me to contribute to a paper he was writing about the closure of the hospital. It was to be a ‘photoarchive of the hospital’s last week’.
There’s photos from myself and another co-author Kris Kamusinski. The photography style that both of us offered are quite different, and I can now understand why John approached me, as there is a certain sense of life that comes out of my photos that make them distinctly different to the other’s in the paper. Kris’s are excellent photos as well, but we have two very different styles.
The paper takes up the entirety of the 146 page journal. As I laced through it I found a large selection of my photographs reproduced vividly. The Medical Foundation had contributed $7000 to the printing of the journal so that it could be produced in colour. My heart leapt out of my chest when there on the final page of the paper I found a photo I took late one afternoon as the sun set across the dis-used 1930’s nurse’s quarters. It closed out the paper perfectly, and brought my work on this full circle.
John had been working on the paper at the time as the original blog post exploded in readership. Some 4000-5000 people have read my blog on the closure of the RCH this year in a brief couple of days.
The blog post can be found here: https://filthyplaten.com/2014/12/30/farewell-to-the-royal-childrens-hospital-and-2014/
The copy of the journal also came with a beautifully written note from John Pearn that was made in with his fountain pen in purple ink. I sat down at home and called family and friends to let them know, then had a little champagne to celebrate.
I’m taking a break now for a couple of weeks. When I return I’ve got a big period of adjustment in front of me again. I have a new role to learn, and I try to balance my new hours with the hours of my existing role – which is in a department that in the short two years I have been there I’ve managed some already astounding achievements.
Today I look forward with optimism and wonder about what I’m going to achieve next. I chose to document my walk along the cobblestone path, and discovered my small story was part of a bigger story making history. I now wonder where I shall travel on the path next.
A copy of the publication can be acquired from the Commissariat Museum by calling:
+61 07 32214198
Or can be collected in person from:
115 William St
The cost is $au10
And an even bigger congratulations goes to John Pearn for the resulting fine publication, and a big thank-you to the editors that made my photos look so wonderful, along with the Medical Foundation that contributed to making it happen.