The Royal Newcastle Hospital closed in mid April 2006 with clinical services being relocated to The Royal Newcastle Centre on The John Hunter campus in Newcastle. The unique coastal site had been home for the hospital for over 180 years. Moving the Royal- Framing the Memories is an art project funded by a collaborative grant between Hunter New England Health and The University of Newcastle. The project was designed to provide an approach to navigating change and assessing the viability of such an approach. It focused on the dual aspects of change- the institutional desire to move forward and the staff’s loss of identity. Three related artworks have been generated through a consultative process with staff of the hospital, university staff, community members who may have been patients, volunteers and visitors. Participants were asked to provide memorabilia from the Royal to be displayed in an innovative mini museum installed in the foyer of the new centre. Unlike official museum artefact this display references the private and sentimental objects that carry a distinct memory for the participant. The view from the Royal was legendary and the project invited staff to nominate a particular window view that they cherished. These views have been interpreted photographically and installed within the mini museum to provide a trace of the original site. “The Procession”, the final element was performed on March 26th 2006 and saw over 2000 people participate in a performance that lead from the hospital, along the water front to a celebration on the foreshore. Staff from the hospital, university drama students and the hospital community orchestrated a unique performance with massive puppets, banners and ceremonial events. The artworks and art events generated through this project provided a tangible reminder that all is not lost and in doing so it is hoped to alleviate some of the sadness inherent in change. This project also highlights the beneficial outcomes of collaborative practice in defining and implementing community cultural development within diverse and sometimes opposing sectors.
Taking Heart: a New Quest for Medical Humanities (Association for Medical Humanities [Australia/New Zealand] First Biennial Conference). Proceedings of Taking Heart: a New Quest for Medical Humanities (Byron Bay, NSW 27-30 July, 2006)