Art Heals



I had a little blood test at the hospital today.  I seem to be doing a lot of tinkering with my health lately.  I find it excruciatingly boring but, like an old car, I suppose I need more maintenance these days.  Anyway, as you can see from the picture, an imposing statue of Queen Victoria has been hauled down the hill from the old Montreal hospital of that name.  I always noticed the great art in the old hospitals which have now been blended together in a brand new superhospital.  There have been all sorts of scandals surrounding the building of this facility but it does have the virtue of being on flat ground.  Four major hospitals were build half-way up the mountain in the middle of town!  Perhaps it was a sort of primitive screening tool.  If you didn’t have a heart attack or break your leg on the way up or down, you deserved  treatment.  Anyway, the three hospitals grouped in the new building are accessible by metro and there is ample (if expensive) parking.  Today I was thrilled to see my old favorite ensconced in the entrance hall.  We were even invited to touch the queen’s knee for good luck!  I was not aware that it was created by a niece of the queen, Lady Feodora Gleichen. When I say, niece, you really have to look her up on Google or Wikipedia which will give you the low-down on her connection, complete with family tree diagram.   Can you imagine a woman creating such a monument in the Victorian era.  Good for her!

There was a beautiful bronze and marble plaque on the other side of the hall and was amused to see that some observant passer-by had noticed the name of the artist.  It seems the official sent by the Royal Bank, who probably paid for the installation, had failed to see the name at the bottom of the plaque.  I think it was put up in the Royal Edward Chest Hospital on St. Urbain Street.  As far as I can make out, the inscription reads, “The Electric Spark which opened the doors of the Royal Edward institute for Tuberculosis at Montreal-  completing by the magical aid of science, a  noble Handiwork of Mercy.” It certainly is a strange dedication but that’s what I could make out.  I think it is shame that the artist who created this work doesn’t get credit so tomorrow I will brave the labyrinth of public relations of the Bank and try to get that corrected.

Now, as for the title of today’s post, that’s the philosophy of the community art activities of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where I volunteer.  What a great combination of science and art I experienced today.  I know if I had something really wrong with me I might not be so delighted with these old works.  Today I was lucky enough to find a touch of humanity and connection with our history as well as the high tech and mysterious world of modern medicine.


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