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Matinee: 'Phototherapy' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

29 July 2017

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 198th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Phototherapy.

In three minutes, Australian photographer Amy McIntyre takes us from her infant son's life-threatening bout with meningitis to an art installation at Dubbo Hospital's maternity unit. And it all starts with a walk.

McIntyre always loved going for walks where she found nature posing for abstract compositions that made you wonder just what it was you were looking at.

When she gave birth to her son Max, those creative outlets became a sort of therapy, the best way she found of calming the newborn down. It became a daily event.

She brought her camera along and began posting images from their walks on Instagram.

When Max was nine months old, the new family went on vacation. It was then that Max came down with a high fever and was rushed to Sydney Children's Hospital. A high fever in infants, we happen to know, can lead to bacterial meningitis.

McIntyre isn't exaggerating when she describes how dire Max's situation was.

McIntyre isn't exaggerating when she describes how dire Max's situation was. Even if he survived, he would be severely compromised, she was told.

"He proved them all wrong," McIntyre says.

One day, after he was well enough for her to take him out for a little walk with a nurse, McIntyre recommitted to her daily walks with Max. It became part of his recovery.

Which, we have to report, is not all roses. Bacterial meningitis leaves its mark. For Max, that's blindness and "other severe disabilities," according to a recent update.

But he has a little sister now and still takes walks with his mother.

McIntyre and her husband spent a lot of time in the hospital during Max's fight with bacterial meningitis, of course. She found it a rather cold place. "How come there are no art works?" she asked.

She wanted to soften and warm up the place, she said. So she selected some of those images she had captured on her walks and had them printed on a large format printer.

She made them all circular. "There's something calming and finishing about a circle," she says.

Applied to the walls and ceilings they seem like portholes offering a view beyond the confines of the hospital to the glorious world outside. They help you seem beyond the limitations of your present circumstances, in short.

Which is just what McIntyre herself did. And in doing so, she managed to achieve the one thing we should all aspire to do.

She left things better than she found them.

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