Gardening With Soul is an award-winning New Zealand documentary from filmmaker Jess Feast, and it has just opened nationally in New Zealand and selected cinemas across Australia. I can’t wait to check it out, it looks like a beautiful story, made even more incredible for capturing the magical day it snowed in Wellington.
Gardening with Soul premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival in July 2013,
Sister Loyola is one of the liveliest nonagenarians you could ever meet.
As the main gardener at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, Wellington, her daily tasks include heavy lifting alongside vigorous spade and wheelbarrow work, which she sometimes performs on crutches. Loyola and the other Sisters of Compassion follow the vision of Mother Aubert to ‘meet the needs of the oppressed and powerless in their communities’.
The lively, beautifully shot documentary (edited by Annie Collins. written & directed by Jess Feast) is filmed almost entirely in this small community on the southern coast of Wellington. With music by local musician David Long, and full of the sea- and garden-scapes that have informed Loyola’s life, Gardening with Soul uncovers a local legend and her community for the wider world. It is a conceptual triumph for Feast. Any belief we might harbour that becoming a nun is avoiding the real world is turned firmly on its head as we witness this extraordinary soul steer a sharp course through all weathers, trying to shine love on everything she sees.
Last month we collected feedback from the Freerange community via a short survey. After a busy year built on multiple publications and the formalisation of the Freerange Cooperative, we were eager to shape a plan that could build on the things that we’re good at; decide on some new things that we could get better at; and make sure we do all these while keeping firmly in touch with what and who, Freerange is all about.
To give some context, the motivation for the survey emerged late last year when we held our first face-to-face meeting between the whole team of Directors in Christchurch. Looking back, Freerange had published 300 blog articles over 4 years; our seventh Journal was about to be launched; and Christchurch: The Transitional City was doing incredibly well; as well as five other print publications for the Press, and a charity compilation album. As the community, organisation, and finances were growing -in complexity if not size- it became crucial that we understood more about the Freerange community so that we could give, share, and enable value for it.
There were only a few simple and fairly broad questions asked, and I’ve simply reproduced the responses here as they are, with some short comments about what we’ve understood from them. After getting some idea of participation in Freerange, we asked how our blog was going, what kind of stuff we could be publishing about, and what else we could do for the community. The sixth question in particular had some really encouraging responses that we’re pretty excited about.
Last week a young man was rescued from a 400 million year-old rock crack out west of Victoria. Famous in climbing circles, the Squeeze Test at Mt Arapiles is a committing clamber through a boulder that sits split in half not far from the local campsite. He had slipped and trapped his hip around 10 at night, and spent a rainy 10-hours there before rescue services were able to successfully slide him out to safety. Thousands have no doubt passed the Test since Mt Arapiles was first pioneered as a rock-climbing mecca in the 60’s, but to the uninitiated, the idea is fucking terrifying, and so it should be. I’ve squeezed through the rock a few times now, and let me tell you it’s no picnic, and I’m on the narrow side of skinny. Not that you’d need convincing, imagine yourself for a moment thrutching* your wedged body horizontally between two rocky surfaces. It’s too narrow to turn your head around once you’re in. Continue reading “Climbing Diaries Part 1: Getting off the Ground”
Things are getting quite exciting this year for Freerange with two Journals in the pipeline (we’re on the home straight!) and the eagerly awaited follow up to Christchurch: The Transitional City is progressing amazingly. We’ll also be revitalising our blog, developing our publishing platform, and building the Cooperative. Woop!
In particular this year, we are focusing on nurturing the community of people that have become a part of the Freerange project, so we’ve written a simple little survey to start a conversation with our everyday readers, contributors, or future pirates.
It’s only a few questions that will take a minute or two, and will mean a lot to us.
One respondent will get a free copy of the Transitional City book, although you are also welcome to complete the survey anonymously if you don’t wish to supply your contact information – all good!
Remarkable things will happen during Labour weekend at FESTA whether you’re a solo festival butterfly or more of a pack animal. There’s bound to be something to get your juices flowing (literally, don’t miss getting your sweat on in the Nomadic Sauna).
The annual Festival of Transitional Architecture is a free, public event that engages with the city of Christchurch (New Zealand) by exploring urban regeneration through large scale collaborative projects and urban interventions. It is the first and only festival of its kind in the world.
Over the course of Labour Weekend events, performances and projects happen across empty sites and in vacant buildings within the city’s four avenues, reintroducing life and urban activity to the centre. This rediscovery of the inner city invites a variety of collective investigations into the nature of civic life and opens it up to the community’s desire to participate in the remaking of their city. www.festa.org.nz
After the huge success of the inaugural FESTA last year, when 30,000 people swarmed to Luxcity, it’s great to know that Jessica Halliday returns as Director Extraordinaire, and with their stellar crew, FESTA is looking conspicuously like THE Festival to be at this year.
Chief Egg of the Freerange Pirate ship, Barnaby Bennett, is currently the Chair of the FESTA Board, and he’s been a relentless captain of advocacy and awesomeness for Christchurch. It’s not surprising then, that a fair few Freerange Captains couldn’t resist charting a course for the City Within A City.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to catch up with a Free Ranger at FESTA.
On Friday I’ll be hanging out in the Pallet Pavilion at Anissa Victoria’s Twilight Vintage Market from 4pm, from there you can pick up some of my new drawings if that kind of thing tickles your fancy. The Twilight Market will be stocked with interesting finds, good food, a bar, and live music, the perfect reason to wander through the blue fortress at dusk before things go crazy on Saturday.
Dusting off after Casual Friday, Barnaby Bennett will be hosting Urban T(act)ics, an open discussion with Chris Morley-Hall (founder of the Cuba Street Carnival), Federico Monsalve (Freerange director and design writer), James Coyle (architect/musician, Newtown Festival, Wellington), Lucinda Hartley (director and co-founder of Co-design, Melbourne), and myself. Urban T(act)ics will be a chance for “groups and individuals doing similar work in Christchurch to learn lessons from other cities and to meet people curious about what is happening here. All presenters work in organisations that have influence in their city but not as part of government, and will reflect on how their work can be considered an action, activity or tactic within the city.”
From there, Big Saturday gets huge, with the itchy anticipation of the main event, Canterbury Tales, building to a crescendo of surreal satisfaction. Clink your glasses, see you in the morning!
The Sunday Sesh warms up with an all ages drawing workshop I’ll be running called Supernova City. Inspired by dream cartographers of the city, the workshop will work collectively to make drawings and traces of the city as we experience it, blurring past memories and future dreams on the same massive canvas. We’ll be at the Pallet Pavilion from 10-2pm, I’ll be posting our progress up on Facebook and Twitter (@byronkinnaird and @FreerangePress), hashtag drawing, hashtag cant wait!
The first ever gathering in the flesh of the Freerange Directors seems almost too good to be true (and it might not be true), but we’ll be getting together to launch Freerange Vol.7: The Commons at 6pm at 88 Worcester Street, one of the Canterbury Tales sites. This issue is hugely relevant to Christchurch, so drop by to celebrate in Commons style with us.
There are seriously so many things to get involved in over the long weekend, check out the full programme, there’s bound to be something to do whether its learning about the Arches or the Pallet Pavillion, building a house, or meeting the puppets.
It is the last week to provide feedback to a set of important gender equity guidelines being developed in Australia for the architecture profession.
The commentary and resources published by Parlour and their researchers are formidable, and their conference Transform earlier this year was the most engaging I had been to in a long time. Parlour is probably the most important and articulate voice in the profession right now, and they want to talk to you.
It’s immediately clear that a great deal of care, experience, and intelligence has gone into these guidelines. I believe Neph Wake and Naomi Stead are to thank for the hard yards in producing these documents (please correct me if I’m wrong), which is yet another significant outcome of the parent project ‘Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership’ funded by the Australian Research Council through the Linkage Projects scheme, made so much more accessible thanks to Parlour, edited by the “effective” Justine Clark. (This wonderfully cryptic and completely deserved title was recently used to introduce Justine).
The Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice are being developed to help architectural workplaces facilitate change towards a more equitable profession. Aimed both at employers and employees, the guidelines will address the specificities of small, medium, large and regional practice. They will provide hints and tips, and guides to thinking on a range of issues relevant to the architecture profession in Australia today.
As tailored as these are for the culture of the architecture profession, these really have relevance to all workplaces, so if these issues ring true, regardless of your professional penchant, I’d recommend a good sit down with these.
The ten Draft Guidelines address:
1. Pay equity: Moving towards equal pay between women and men in architecture.
2. Leadership: How to promote and support women to senior roles in architecture.
3. Recruitment: Equitable recruitment and hiring diverse talent in architecture.
4. Mentorship: Mentors, sponsors and career champions in architecture.
5. Negotiation: Negotiating flexible working conditions in architecture.
6. Long hours: Challenging the long-hours culture in architecture.
7. Part-time: Meaningful part-time work in architecture.
8. Flexibility: Making flexible patterns work in architecture.
9. Career break: Returning from parental leave and other career breaks in architecture.
10. Registration: Supporting women who choose to register in as architects.
11… Parlour also offers suggestions for other areas they haven’t already addressed.
If you can, these drafted guidelines should be devoured at length, they are highly addictive and very readable. Even if you take a crack at two or three of the issues close to you heart, it’s worth offering your contribution this way as the online form below allows specific feedback to each individual theme, so every bit counts.
You can download the Draft Guidelines here, and link to the feedback form on that page. Following consultation, the finalised Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice will be published later this year.
“Y’know the real world, this so called real world is just something you put up with like everybody else. I’m in my element when I’m a little bit out of this world – I’m on the beam. Because when I’m falling, I’m doing all right: When I’m slipping, I say, “Hey this is interesting!” It’s when I’m standing upright, that bothers me: I’m not doing so good.” Willem de Kooning.
For the last year I’ve worked at Factory 7 with dim lights (nearly always at night), metallic dust, and a large dirty desk that takes the brunt of my drawing. I work with dry and dusty pencils, charcoal and dense pigment pastels, always on paper.
In my dark corner, I’ve drawn bodies, women, angels, saints, friends and places, faces, and forces. I draw these things to understand my body, the bodies of others – real and unreal – and to trace the experiences of my physical, intellectual and emotional self. I draw to understand old marks I’ve made, how my hand moves and hits paper, and to feel how the marks and paper hit back in whatever way they can. I guess I draw to get better at drawing.
I am most interested in making marks when I am as wary as possible of the eye, the hand and the paper, even when – or especially when – I’m not in control of them. The easiest way to be aware of something is to feel it change, the more violently the better. To become aware of your eye, you blind it, your hand – you hurt it, the whiteness of your paper – you dirty it.
I want to draw like being in a car crash.
The relationship between your eyes and hands is the easiest to disrupt. When drawing blindfolded, the hand is increasingly sensitive to movement and impact, and even the mind’s eye can be confused if you’re slipping. This is the best way to draw unlike your self, which is an important part of drawing as your self. I think that short fits of hysteria have the same effect and can be practiced, like New Zealand artist Max Gimblett who stomps the ground and bellows like a madman, or there’s De Kooning, who supposedly charged at his canvas from across the room with his loaded brush in hand. I find music pumped into my ears helps me arrive there too. The effects of all these can be an extended sense of openness, or aggressive bursts of physical and emotional energy that smash pigment deep into the paper. It feels incredibly direct.
When I draw,
“I’m not pure; I’m not an abstractionist completely. There has to be a history behind the thought.” Cy Twombly.
To consider technique, my newer drawings are really about how my hands and body interact with the drawing surface. Rebecca Horn’s Pencil Mask is a striking example of this, and is a type of practice often called performance drawing. I think the Pencil Mask and other performance drawings tend to explore drawing instruments as prosthetics of the body, recording the body as directly as possible: Yves Klein’s blue body paintings are dramatic examples, where the drawing instrument is the naked body. In the end, I’m not artistically interested in sharing the performance of my drawing (infact, oppositely, I prefer to keep this ambiguous), so I think I deviate from Horn & Klein. Instead I’m very interested in collecting as many ways as possible of making marks, especially ones that undermine the well-practiced control of the hand on paper. Cy Twombly has become an important influence in this way. My drawings in the Collisions/Alchemy and Nova sets are good examples of this exploration, the first set uses ambidextrous and intentionally deformed and uncoordinated hand gestures, twisting the way I might hold the pastel, and contorting my hands and body to force cramped and shivering lines; drawings in Nova are more desperate as they crush the pigment pastels to pieces right on the paper, and smashing my hands and fists into the coloured dust, I smear it heavily into the paper with hugely exaggerated and unnecessary force.
“I’ll take you where nobody knows you–”
Recently I’ve drawn with Fenina Acance and Jaslyne Gan. Apart from the joy, challenge, and intrigue of working alongside other drawers drawing (‘art is by the alone’), for me it’s an important practice in developing new mark-making strategies. The marks I was making before the collaborative jams were (maybe too conservatively) sitting between what I saw in Fenina’s sharp, shifting scratches and Jaslyne’s dancing, ethereal compositions. So we all decided we should do some shared drawings, made simultaneously or swapped part-way.
At first most of them looked like my drawings, but they have changed, and they’re now the drawings that I find most intriguing. Maybe it’s because I could never have done them myself, or because of their uncanny familiarity. I find them incredible sources of inspiration and fascination, like looking in a mirror and not recognising something about myself. When I’m slipping, I say, ‘Hey this is interesting!’
Collaborating is also a terrific way of dispelling any preciousness for your drawings (‘kill your darlings’) and more importantly, learning to rework existing unsatisfying drawings, even if you ruin them. I’m terrible at working through drawings that I’m not feeling good about (and have no idea how to rescue), so ruining someone else’s drawing seems like a safer idea.
Force and Fire
These days, I keep taking the drawn force, lushness and violence from Willem De Kooning’s Women and Julie Mehretu’s storms; I take the lines, scratches and scrapes of Cy Twombly, Mike Parr, and Rebecca Horn… I can’t help but use a researcher’s eye and hand to scrutinize and explore mark-making techniques.
Departing from the celestial references in the Nova drawings, my new work warily uses fire as a driving force. Intensely about the Australian land and sky, fire is sublime because it destroys and regenerates, it’s terrifying and warming. Aside from all that, and most importantly to me, it sparks, cracks and swirls in ways that I want to draw.
Byron Kinnaird is one of the Directors of the Freerange Cooperative; an artist and poet at Factory 7; and a teacher and researcher for architecture at the University of Melbourne. His drawings are at www.drawnandwritten.com
In 2007, Dr Peter Wood (aka P-Dubs), Senior Lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Architecture, gave a cutting and hilarious assessment of student culture to open the first formal day of Ctrl Shift 07, the Biennial Pacific Student Congress of Architecture. A few of the Freerangers who put the Congress on recently revisited his lecture, and had to share his Ten Rules on Being an Architecture Student, transcribed here to capture Peter’s deliciously acerbic critique.
1. Dress right. Cheap clothes should look expensive, and expensive clothes should look cheap. Under no circumstances should cheap clothes look cheap, or expensive clothes look expensive, except at crits.
2. Always work at least one all-nighter for every studio. Two is better as it suggests that you’re not doing the first one to follow the rules. Never do more then three in a row as this suggests genuine psychological problems, or it will lead to genuine psychological problems.
3. Meet the right people. This is a tough one because architecture students, architectural academics, academics, and in fact anyone from your immediate cultural grouping, is not the right people. The right people should meet three criteria: they should have money, they should want to give you their money, and they should not be interested in telling you how you should spend their money. Your parents are a good place to start.
4. Show dismissive scorn toward successful architects. After all, they are just cynical old fuddy-duddies who sold their creative integrity to developers because their bums like leather car seats, and anyway, you’ll never be like them.
5. Attend all openings. Art exhibitions, public lectures, new buildings, roof shouts, car doors, the only thing that matters is how disdainful you look, and the amount of free food and drinks.
6. Be I.T. savvy. It’s a digital world, and the more digital you look, the easier it will be to pass architecture off as a modern activity. Fortunately this has never been easier, it doesn’t matter what you listen to, whether its Burt Bacherach or anything else on your MP3 player, or that your laptop contains pictures of dairy cows, or that you only pretend to text-message due to the inability of bovine hooves to operate cellphones. The only real point is how shiny, expensive and visible your gadgets are.
7. Become moderately proficient at espousing the views of a continental philosopher. Avoid the big names as its most likely that someone will know more about them than you. Choose instead a minor player from some Marxist circle and pick out the bits of their writing that might possibly have something to do with architecture. Liberally sprinkle these through your comments at openings.
8. Learn the lingo. Every attempt must be made to speak in architectural jargon. People might live in houses, but architects design responsive environments that challenge domestic paradoxes which combine atavistic references with new post-post-modern epistemologies.
9. Avoid student counseling. Conventional wisdom has it that student counseling is the quickest way to arrange a medical certificate for an assignment deadline extension. But once they have you on the couch describing your childhood, who knows what might happen. Instead, go to Student Health, tell them it hurts to tinkle, and save the antibiotic prescription for the bronchial condition your all-nighters will give you.
10. Organise an international congress. If only because it makes achieving the other criteria much easier.
Peter Wood, on Ctrl Shift 07: Biennial Pacific Student Congress of Architecture. [DVD] is available in most architecture Libraries across Australia & New Zealand.
Earlier in August, the Australian Institute of Architects (‘the Institute’) deployed, analysed, and published the “Graduate Survey 2012” so that they could “develop programs and initiatives to suit the specific needs of this demographic.” It is an important initiative for the Institute because any representative group should regularly take stock of the experiences and expectations of its members, as this should inform quite explicitly what an institution should be focusing its resources and energy on while also maintaining momentum in their core trajectory, which in the case of architects, usually reads something like ‘promoting the value of architects’ and ‘promoting the value of architecture and design in improving the quality of the our lives’.
It’s worth analysing that the Institute, and similar national representative organisations, like the New Zealand Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects, are a membership-driven representative group of practicing (or aspiring) architects, meaning their advocacy is prioritized to the experiences, needs, quality of life, and professional sustainability of architects.
This differs slightly, but importantly, from other institutions and groups such as the Danish Architecture Centre, Netherlands Architecture Institute, and the Wellington Architectural Centre, whose advocacy prioritizes the promotion, dissemination and education of architecture as a social and cultural aspiration benefitting the general population’s experiences, needs and quality of life.
Of course both types of groups work substantially and passionately for the advocacy of architects and architecture because they are naturally interwoven, but their differences exist, and are played out more forcefully when resources are scarce.
When the body gets cold, blood leaves the extremities to keep the center warm.
An important canary down the mine-shaft of institutionalisation is membership convergence. In my experience, these two types of groups differ wonderfully if you characterize their membership. The New Zealand Institute of Architects for example is a large and increasingly coherent group, but are expensive to join, and you’re probably indifferent about why you’re joining anyway. The Wellington Architectural Centre has a small, and colourful membership, are cheap to join, and because you doubted joining in the first place, are a much more motivated member of the Centre.
What I want you to consider then, is when it does get cold out, and the air is getting rank (to recklessly mix metaphors), are you at the heart of your institution, or will you find yourself out on a limb, freezing your tits off.