My interest in Addington Children’s Hospital and the Nurses’ Home arose whilst I was assembling my heritage website (www.kznpr.co.za). I was photographing the buildings along the beachfront and my attention was immediately drawn to these two derelict buildings, on our prime beachfront. My work requires me to be inquisitive and an open door of the children’s hospital could not be ignored. Little did I know that this open door would introduce me to a long- forgotten world, a time capsule, with a treasure trove of art, decay, dripping walls, stained glass and ceramics.
The building had been closed for many years with little interference. It was a profound experience to enter this hallowed space where so many children had been treated with compassion by their devoted carers. This feeling would have been shared by the many mothers, fathers, siblings and family who might have experienced the pain of children’s suffering or the joys of birth and healing. It was, however, the relics of this much-loved institution, that reinforced how special this haven was. I spent hours photographing the ceramics, cartoon murals, stained-glass windows, statues and walls with swathes of peeling paint. These images demonstrated the love and care of the professional people who had established the hospital and continued to care for children for many decades. Much of the artwork was done by Natal’s ‘Picasso’, Mary Stainbank and her life- long friend Florence Wilgeford Van-Hall, as well as other artists.
Alongside the Children’s Hospital was a similarly decaying structure, whose history had included being a hospital, nurses’ home, WW II hospital and latterly housing Addington Centenary Museum. Alas, the Nursing Home has shared the same fate of its neighbour. It did, however, share a similar mystery and aura, with its rotten windows, floorboards and yards of peeling paint. I consider this photo shoot as one of the most meaningful of all my assignments in KwaZulu-Natal and for this reason, I have published my images of this special place. It is not a comprehensive record of all the artworks or intended to be a history but to display the decaying memory of this, once fine, hospital.
Act now to get your hands on this 184 page, glossy hard cover gem with bound and stitched sections.