5 minutes with PHA Qld President Timothy Roberts

Tim, you’ve been a member of PHA Qld since 2013, and are known to our members for your prior role as the Association’s Treasurer. What historical topics interest you?
I am an art historian, with a special interest in Queensland’s art heritage before the conclusion of the Second World War. Queensland had a very different story of artistic maturation to other Australian states, and there are still many contributors whose legacy hasn’t properly been explored yet. One of my favourite areas to research is decorative arts – there are some truly fascinating potters, silversmiths and craftspeople awaiting a significant reappraisal of their contribution to our art heritage.

Is art the only subject that you apply your research skills to?
No. One area that fascinates me is Australia’s gay and lesbian history. It doesn’t take up much of my time, but I have presented papers to the Australian Homosexual Histories Conference on Donald Friend’s personal writings and artworks, and the history of BootCo – Australia’s longest-running gay mens leather club. This year I’ll be discuss LGBTIQ+ publications that were censored in Queensland under the Objectionable Literature Acts. I’ve also been working with the State Library of Queensland and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Melbourne to preserve some LGBTIQ+ historical ephemera. Prior to decriminalisation of homosexual acts a lot of this material was discarded, so preserving and interpreting whatever survives is helpful in expanding the story of gender diversity in Australia.

Aside from the conference paper, what projects are you currently working on?
I am currently engaged by Griffith University to assist a major publication and exhibition project on Queensland art pottery from Federation until the mid-century. It is scheduled for release in late 2018. I am also researching some queer objects for two LGBTIQ+ history snapshots in a book prepared by the University of Otago next year.

Tim Roberts competing in the 2017 CAPO State Championships, 29 April 2017. Photo Petra Josefsson/PetraPack
Tim Roberts competing in the 2017 CAPO State Championships, 29 April 2017. Photo Petra Josefsson/PetraPack

Outside the realm of history, what other activities do you enjoy?
I love spending time at the gym, and hold the Confederate of Australian Powerlifting Organisations senior mens push/pull record (bench press and deadlift) in the 60kg division. I’m hoping to improve on my results at next year’s national competition with the help of my coach and mentor Jamie Cougan and the team at Fortitude Barbell, and -fundraising permitting- attend the LGBT Powerlifting Conference in London next year. I also love music – a few highlights include hearing George Enescu’s amazing Octet performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the London Symphony performing some of my favourite repertoire by Sergei Prokofiev, and the rarely-played first version of Sibelius’ violin concerto performed brilliantly by Maxim Vengerov.

What plans do you have for PHA Qld over the next few years?
In addition to continuing our advocacy of the profession and our members throughout Queensland, I have a few things I’d like to explore, including ways of engaging emerging professionals in our field, and building on new professional development opportunities for members. I’d also like to review our current online presence and investigate what ways we can highlight PHA Qld members work in the community, as well as bring the Association’s website up to date with mobile and tablet-friendly standards.