History is who we are and why we are the way we are.~David McCullough
For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #37, we invite you to capture history.
History can be personal or public. It can last for a moment, a decade, or a century. It is local, national, or international. It can be a monument, a relic, a person, a place, or a memento. It’s totally open to your interpretation.
As many of you know, I’m fascinated by history. I’m on the lookout for those “aha” moments when history reveals itself–like the time I wondered about all those low stone walls scattered about New England.
It turns out that farmers created these walls to mark their property lines over 150 years ago. By the middle of the 19th century, settlers had deforested over 70 percent of New England and turned the land into farms. Many of these farms were abandoned by the end of the century–as a result of industrialization.
Here are a few other “aha” historical moments:
This desk, inside the Bruny Island lighthouse, belonged to John V. Cook, a head lighthouse keeper on this remote island south of Tasmania. I love the details here–the old-fashioned phone, the wooden plaque from 1838, and the wireless radio transmitter. But the box of pottery and beach glass was the detail that made the difference for me. I could imagine John Cook collecting these shards of pottery on his many walks on the beach during his years at the lighthouse between 1978 and 1993.
The next photo was shot in Port Arthur, Tasmania, selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What struck me about this place was its beauty, which is overshadowed by its somber history–both modern and colonial. In the 1800’s, Port Arthur was Australia’s most infamous penal colony for prisoners deported from the United Kingdom. This church, built by convicts, burned down in 1884, but it was partially restored in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In more recent history, Port Arthur was the location of Australia’s deadliest mass shooting in 1996.
Does this shirt look familiar? It belonged to Nelson Mandela, the political leader of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. A recent exhibit “Mandela My Life” at Melbourne’s History Museum in Australia focused on Mandela’s evolution from a radical and political prisoner to the country’s first black head of state. Mandela commissioned the first Madiba shirt to embody his freedom to create his own unique style and perhaps his sense of humanism. I loved the collection of his belongings, including several of his famous shirts, as well as his meticulously polished shoes–which he cleaned and buffed every day. These details revealed so much about him.
Lisbon has survived for thousands of years. It was founded by the Phoenicians and the Celts, and endured a series of invasions by the Romans, Germanic tribes, the Moors, the Spanish, Napoleon, and the British. It was rebuilt after a deadly earthquake, tsunami and fire, which nearly destroyed the city over 3 successive days in 1755. In recent history, it has recovered from decades of a repressive fascist regime.
For me, the spirit of regeneration was most evident in this church, Igregja Sao Domingos. It survived major earthquakes in 1531 and 1755 and a fire in 1959. If you look closely, you can see evidence of the fire, which scorched the marble and burned wooden sections of the building. The parishioners decided to reopen the church and not restore the charred remains of the relics, paintings and statues. The smell of smoke still lingers in the air.
This week, it’s your chance to show us what history means to you. In your post, include a link to this week’s theme and be sure to tag it “Lens-Artists,” so it’s easy to find in the Reader.
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Have an inspiring week!