Australian Historical Association

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If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know I’ve been attending the Australian Historical Association Conference in Sydney. So far it has been an absolutely amazing conference. My paper went well and people seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Thank you to everyone who attended the session!

I’ve called this entry “Time Machine Please” for one very good reason. Today I attended nine talks two of which mentioned the exhibit: “Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I”. I immediately jumped onto the State Library of New South Wales website only to find the exhibit had closed last year. Upset is an understatement! I can only hope that they will consider running it again.

I feel a tad bit apprehensive reviewing an exhibit I have not visited. Thanks to the presentation by Elise Edmonds, however, I have found myself compelled to write just a few words. First, a very short summation of the exhibit. The entire exhibit was centred on  personal diaries from World War I.

After the War the State Library ran newspaper advertisements to collect as many diaries as possible – “good words for good money.” The response was overwhelming and the diaries that were collected have remained in their collection. To quote the exhibition website entry “Life Interrupted remembers those who served — in their own words.”

The absolute best part about this exhibition seemed to be its use of space. All too often you walk into an exhibition space and it just doesn’t feel right – there’s no balance. There’s heaps of writing on a wall with one item in the middle or vice versa. It can get very confusing.

When you first entered into the space you were greeted by a wall of journals. You can see below that the impact of this idea is astounding. You come face-to-face with the men who fought – hear their words, feel their experiences. The whole exhibit remained focused on this theme – the soldiers’ own words – and displayed a whole range of diaries.

Wall of Journals
Wall of Journals – courtesy of Kurrajong garden blog.

I really wish someone could invent a time machine with no strings attached so I can go back to 2014 and visit. Please someone notify me when this is achieved.

Author: Rebecca Lush

Curator at the Integrated Pathology Learning Centre.

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