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An active and contemplative life

by Angus Trumble, 28 September 2017

Mark Loane, 2016 by Joachim Froese
Mark Loane, 2016 by Joachim Froese

There is an unbroken line of thought in western civilisation extending all the way from Cicero through St. Augustine and Coluccio Salutati right up to the present day, in which we have regularly weighed the significance, respective merits and competing priorities of the “active” versus the “contemplative” life. Can they coexist? In many respects this fine new photographic portrait of Mark Loane by Joachim Froese (b. 1963), commissioned last year with funds made available by Patrick Corrigan AM, encapsulates that ancient paragone, and indeed powerfully suggests that the answer to that question is yes. But in a far more specific way, this portrait also makes the obvious connection between specialist surgery and élite sport here in contemporary Australia by positioning its distinguished subject in a spare, unadorned locker room in which the garments of daily life are exchanged for apparel suited to, indeed necessary for, the complex and challenging task at hand. The artist gently suggests that what was true of the subject in his eminent Rugby Union days is also true of him as an eye surgeon.

Mark Loane AM, MBBS [Qld], FRANZCO, FRACS (b. 1954) – former rugby international – made his debut for the Wallabies against the Kingdom of Tonga at the age of eighteen when he was a second year medical student at the University of Queensland. By the time Loane graduated four years later, he had become the captain of the Queensland state side at the age of twenty-one. He won Test caps against the All Blacks, England, Japan, Fiji and France and toured the British Isles and France. Appointed Wallabies captain in 1979 against the All Blacks he led the team to the first Bledisloe Cup victory in Australia in 45 years and captained the side to its first tour of Argentina in 1979. He captained six of the 28 Test matches he played. Considering himself more a doctor than a footballer, Loane retired in 1982 to pursue studies in ophthalmology where he received the Cedric Cohen Medal for the best pass in the eye surgery first part exam in 1984, then completing the second and final part exams in 1986. Further studies and fellowships followed at Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia and the University of California, San Diego. Returning to Queensland and to private practice, he set up the Cape York Eye Health Project in 1999 to provide eye health services to the remote Indigenous communities of Cape York, chairing the Indigenous and Remote Rural Eye Health Service for five years. Loane was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011, specifically for his work with the Indigenous communities of North Queensland. His sporting honours include the Australian Sports Medal and inductions into the Wallabies and Queensland Reds Halls of Fame.

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