Home > Collective Isolation Project, week 9: Collective versus individual

Collective Isolation Project, week 9: Collective versus individual

Eight men in white outfits support each other in a human pyramid
19 June 2020

In Victoria, flattening the curve is largely succeeding because we're trusting the state to manage our collective welfare.

But it comes at the expense of the individual freedoms we unthinkingly enjoyed only three months ago.

This delicate balance between individual rights versus shared duty for the common good highlights a dilemma: we don't know if, or when, things will return to 'normal'.

Is there anything you'd be prepared to give up, to get on with your old life?

About this collection item

A physical culture craze gripped Melbourne in the early 20th century. Adherents of the muscular Christianity movement were early adopters: they believed that God required them to cultivate both their physical bodies and their spiritual health.

The Ebenezer Gym Club met in the church hall attached to the Ebenezer Methodist Chapel in Collingwood. Known for their difficult pyramid formations, the club performed regularly at public events and in state competitions. This form of physical exercise relied on trust – each man depended on the next to hold up his part of the pyramid – a metaphor not easily lost on that post-WWI generation.

This image of the human pyramid formed by the Ebenezer Gym Club is part of a collection donated by Herbert Keith Parkin, whose father and uncle were leading figures in the Ebenezer Gym Club. His cousin, writer Ray Parkin, described how the two men used him as a medicine ball when he was a small boy, throwing him back and forth. 'I loved sailing through the air like that, and I had no fear because I trusted them so much.'

How to respond

Please feel welcome to respond as creatively or literally as you wish.

We collect all kinds of materials including photos, diary entries, letters, written lists, oral histories, poems and objects ... our collection policy covers almost everything you could imagine, so try us!

If you contribute, we may contact you to discuss collecting and using your images, stories, objects and experiences. We may not be able to accept everything, but we will endeavour to do so! With your permission, your contributions may be added to the State Collection or used in future Library programs.

About The Collective Isolation Project

The Collective Isolation Project aims to cement this current moment in history, and is our inaugural Memory Bank campaign.

Find out more about Memory Bank, including details about how to contribute each week.

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