Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences Reception and Presentation of Certificates to New Fellows of the Academy
I acknowledge the Member for Ferny Grove, Mr Mark Furner, representing the Premier and Minister for the Arts; the Shadow Ministers, Dr McVeigh and Mr Walker; members of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences, ladies and gentlemen.
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Fernberg for this evening’s ceremony and reception.
I am honoured that my very first official duty since becoming your Patron last year is to present certificates tonight to the newest Academy Fellows, though Kaye and I do recall a very pleasant dinner last year at the Gabba addressed by the then comparatively new Director of the Museum.
In receiving this honour tonight, our new Fellows have become part of the very long history of the idea (the ideal) of ‘the academy’ – a venerable concept, reaching back more than two millennia to Plato.
When he set up his school of philosophy, just outside Athens, it was in a sanctuary called Akademia.
This site was sacred both to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and to other ‘immortals’.
It is fitting to note that tonight, the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences is not only continuing the Platonic tradition of wisdom and enquiry, but welcoming its own, new ‘immortals’.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate them most warmly on their election as Fellows.
Whatever their discipline, their role will be to help us all, as individuals and as a community, to strengthen the links between the arts and sciences.
We need to search constantly for new and creative ways to help us grasp and take advantage of the opportunities presented by scientific developments, because it is only through understanding those developments that we can begin to imagine what they might mean to the world of the twenty-first century and beyond.
And for that, collaboration and communication are critical.
In this context, it is sobering to reflect that twenty-fifteen marks the centenary of the publication of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
And while there may well be ‘immortals’ among us tonight who can offer a lucid explanation of Einstein’s insight, most of us, I suspect, still struggle to grasp the concept.
It is a telling example of just how important and relevant it is for the Academy to strive to close the communication gap between the arts and the sciences.
Fortunately, the Academy, through its members, Fellows and Companions, can tap into a rich vein of resources to bridge that divide, working with institutions, the community, and each other – truly ‘Thinking Together - Acting Together’.
Now I must be candid about this – I was told of their existence by our wonderful staff, not for one moment to concede an isolated existence of my own in – as they regularly and unfairly say of judges – an “ivory tower”. I am not ‘with it’, but I think with Kaye’s guidance I know what I should know – and now I know of “Art versus Science”!
While the ‘versus’ in their name might suggest conflict, nothing could be further from what I understand to be the reality of their own long, fruitful collaboration and dedication to reaching their goal. But let’s not unduly labour some sort of, as they say these days, “confected” link between the Academy and a pop band.
I wish the Academy well in continuing to pursue its goal and once again congratulate the new Fellows.