Not Farewell…Hello – Thursday 13 November 2008

Righto, no need to get sentimental…I’m shutting up shop. Things were getting a bit unweildy here in iWebland. Sooooo

(drumroll) HERES

(Make it your new favourite – I will also put link on front page.)

Don’t worry, I will maintain this as the Archives for some time to come yet. I might also post the images up on Flickr, so you can still check em out or download them.

If you have a Flickr account let me know, its a lonely place at the moment!

Looks like I might be spending a goodly long time at Caba shortly. Will let you know what my movements are.

On Blogging – Wednesday 5 November 2008

caba snow

Well people, it has been a busy month, both in the real and the virtual world. So this blog hasn’t been updated.

In fact I am considering closing this one down, as I have transferred a lot of my energies to other online forums lately. Starting up the business has meant that I have had to investigate new technology and other web-authoring applications. So I may be looking at using other software than iWeb, as it is a little unsophisticated for my purposes.

Meanwhile, I just thought I’d let you know that Bob and Ian have plumbed in the tanks, and know there are two tanks on the shed, hopefully filling up nicely. Really looking forward to our visit to Caba in December and over Christmas. Three weeks!

p.s. this lovely photo of snow on the Bowen mountain ranges is an oldie that I scanned and used in my digital story. I haven’t worked out how to save it in a format suitable for the internet, but if you want to see ‘Forgotten Corner’ I can send you a copy that you can play in your DVD player.

On Creativity – 3 posts from 1 to 13 October 2008


This week I have been thinking about, reading about and watching things about creativity.

3 influential books I will mention:

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964 (this version reprinted 2001)

Thinking with Things: toward a new vision of art, Esther Pasztory,  2005

Creativity: Unleashing the Forces within, Osho, 1999

The movie: Pollock, with Ed Harris & Marcia Gay Harden

And finally the exhibition: Art Deco at the NGV

Have all had an influence on me and are shaping my current conversation around creativity and what is means in our contemporary virtual media driven society.

So I would like to start my little essay with this quote  ending McLuhan’s book (which I have updated to use more MODERN terms so that younger people may understand):

Since electric energy is independent of the place or kind of work-operation, it creates patterns of decentralism (decentralisation) and diversity in the work to be done.

This is a logic that appears plainly enough in the difference between firelight and electric light, for example. Persons grouped around a fire or candle for warmth or light are less able to pursue independent thoughts or even tasks, than people supplied with electric light.

In the same way, those social and educational patterns latent (inherent but untapped)  in (computer) automation are those of self-employment and artistic autonomy. Panic about automation as a threat of uniformity on a world scale is the projection into the future of mechanical standardization and specialism, which are now past.

I feel that this is going to be a number of posts, or it would be one really lengthy one. So I will split it over a few posts. The next topic after Creativity will be Money, as I also currently examining my attitudes to it. McLuhan has something to say on it as well.


I have become a bit fascinated by McLuhan’s predictions about the coming of electronic technologies. So I have included some links and quotes in this post, before I continue my little essay on creativity next post.

I am curious to know what would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties… (Marshall McLuhan)

Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it. (Marshall McLuhan)

As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes. (Marshall McLuhan)


So, the next part of the creativity puzzle was the book, Thinking with things: Towards a New Vision of Art by Esther Pasztory. In actual fact, this book came before I started reading McLuhan, and it was entirely by accident that I came across it, in a bookshop over in Fremantle. The book literally leapt into my hands in a spooky woowoo way.

A sample from the back cover of what’s inside:

What is ‘art’? Why have human societies through all time and around the globe created those objects we call works of art? Is there any easy of defining art that can encompass everything from Paleolithic objects to the virtual images created by the latest computer technology?…At its heart, Pasztory’s thesis is simple yet profound. She asserts that humans create things (some of which Western society chooses to call ‘art’) in order to work out our ideas – that is, we literally think with things.

Pasztory’s book led me to McLuhan, in actual fact, and after reading him, I can see her thesis as an extension of his argument. And it contextualises a lot of the problems and mental blocks and feelings in my gut I have about what is ‘wrong’ with the contemporary art scene.

On Monday night I went to my first opening at ACCA. And it literally made me feel queasy, in its white temple likeness with its black clad acolytes, YUK!

So dear readers, I have really started to look at this thing called ‘art’ (which I practice), and how and where it relates to this thing called CREATIVITY. And they are not the same thing at all – AT ALL.


So on to Osho – Indian guru, now dead, writing about creativity, and actually this one is a good read, and another one of those books that seemed to just fall into my hands.

Some of the most quotable quotes:

“A child is dancing and jumping and running around. Ask him, “where are you going?” He is not going anywhere – you will look foolish to him. What a nonsense question “where are you going”? Is there any need to go anywhere? “ (MY WORDS: meaning our goal-oriented mind asks “why are you running”, because to our adult minds an activity is relevant only when it is going somewhere)

“Let things drop, don’t drop them. Let activity disappear, don’t force it to disappear – because the very effort to force it to disappear is again activity in another form. “

“All children, wherever they are born, are creative – but we don’t allow their creativity. We crush and kill their creativity, we jump upon them; we start teaching them the right way to do things. Remember, a creative person always goes on trying the wrong ways. If you always follow the right way to do a thing you will never be creative, because the “right way” means the way discovered by others. And the right way means that of course you will be able to make something, you will become a producer, a manufacturer, you will be a technician, but you will not be a creator.”


To tie it all back in as I said to the movie: ‘Pollock’, with Ed Harris & Marcia Gay Harden and the exhibition: ‘Art Deco at the NGV’ on my musings on art and creativity.

Poor Pollock (he definitely stumbled onto something for a little while – but seems to have become fearful and untrusting of his almost childlike ability to be creative. He become dead inside, and the people around him who even loved him, contributed to it. With the crippling system that we have created for artists to live in, he especially was not immune

And Deco. The scope of the Art Deco aesthetic was so vast! It even touched India and Africa. It was one of the great global ‘cultures’ of the machine age, when machines were still delightful and exciting things to be celebrated and desired. Before they became the things that are now killing us. Before our individualised, specialised culture got turned on to the Digital Age, and we got all confused about what we were supposed to be doing, and started running around in a frenzy; doing, fixing, ‘problem-solving’ rather than just stopping all that activity and just being creative.

Oh no…Its Facebook & LinkedIn – 27 & 29 September 2008


Hello all and – yes I have entered the world of Facebook. Me slightly shamefaced.

Its social networking folks and its here to stay. It is also a social exclusion network as you need to become a member to contact me. I am not advocating that you should do so.

However, it is just like discovering a whole new world of communication, wow I am quite fascinated….and its strangely fun

Will has suggested that I disable my comments in my blog, as no-one is using them. Must be that the type of friends and family I have don’t do commenting.

SO, THIS IS THE FINAL COMMENTS ENABLED POST. Unless all of a sudden people start commenting…

You can still contact me of course via my email address, or on Facebook. Cheers all, seems all the talking is going on in Facebook now. I am finding out so much news, its where the youf talk to each other, dont you know…

Kevin’s Sketches – Wednesday 24 September 2008

Kevin tells me that he is constantly designing new buildings, of the dwelling sort and other sorts. Its his fun thinking time, and not a job at all. This makes me feel a lot better, as it may turn out that I don’t end up using them at all. Not because I don’t like them. I do, and think it is a very elegant design solution to the problems of a south facing, sloping site.

However, my thinking process has changed so much that I don’t want to even build a house on that site any more. I have decided that it is so beautiful, that it should be left alone. Maybe its the perfect spot for a tent in the summer months instead?

Why the shift in thinking? From all my research and thinking and talking I have been increasingly unable to ignore a growing feeling that doing more with less, going smaller and re-using existing is the only way to go forward – for the benefit of the planet and all humanity.

My little house may have been lovely and even eco-green , but it was still ultimately another building sucking resources from the planet, which was mostly going to be empty (notice how all those houses I feature on my site are beautiful, but still really really big, and kind of selfish?).

Bob and I are cooking up another plan, so we will still be calling on Kevin’s expertise after all, as he is THE MAN WHO MAKES THE PLANS.

(btw – Tim Flannery is about to be on the radio speaking about the ‘point of no return for the planet’ as I write this)

Back to Caba – Tuesday 16 September 2008

More Caba

Just thought i would try to evoke a mood with the photograph in this entry. It will nicely segue into me telling you about the wonderful course I am doing at ACMI at the moment on digital storytelling. Hopefully I will be able to post the results of my creative processes to you in the next week or so – (of course its about Caba…!)

So, while in Caba, Bob and I had chats about houses and made a visit to Kevin and Joanna down the road at Ambyne, to talk to them about houses as well. Kevin is an architect, and he had done up a few ‘sketches’ that were a response to his visit to the house site a few months  before.

By the way my application to get into a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Uni of Tasmania in Hobart is progressing well. I now have to submit my results from previous study, so I can get some credit. Looks like how they work it is you get up to 25% each year credit, which leaves 75% workload. So I still do the full 3 years, but in a part-time capacity.


Still need to iron out a few kinks in the grand plan, but at this stage is full steam ahead and we are getting a bit excited now.

More on tanks – Friday 12 September 2008

Tanks installed

Have been in Caba for a week and feel i have a few blog entries worth of stuff to share with you all.  I thought I would start with the practical stuff and leave the conceptual stuff for later entries.

Bob and I installed one tank this week (with Eleni’s assistance), with the other to follow a bit later. It still needs to be attached to the guttering, but hopefully Bob will be able to do this over the next week. Asap we need rainwater to start weighing it down, so the tank won’t be blown away when the spring winds come.

While I was there many goat kids were born. So far three of the mothers have had triplets. Bob has to wait until Eleni and I leave, so that he can ‘rationalise’ the herd. Unfortunately the mothers cannot, and will not, support three kids. It is about now in the yearly cycle that one is reminded that this isn’t a game. Farming is hard work, and tough decisions need to be made.

See just how tough, by following this link to images from the weekend, including some footage of the babies. The one that Eleni is holding became my favourite, but she is so much smaller than her brother that she probably won’t survive.

Little House, Small Planet – Sunday 31 August 2008

I would like to share with you a book I just read that has really made me think about all this building stuff. Do try and find a copy.

Little House on a Small Planet, by Shay Solomon, The Lyons Press Connecticut, 2006 (

They have set up an extensive and informative website, so I’ll let you have a browse yourselves. Suffice to say, I am finding this whole ‘thinking about buildings, houses and homes and things’ is a journey in itself! And at the moment I am moving in a slightly different direction than I thought I would.

The shed may end up being the only thing I build. Why? Maybe its all we really need. Hmmmm. I will be exploring this idea further in the coming weeks. Soon, I will be spending a week in Caba with Bob. Deb and Eleni will hopefully be there to talk to as well. Maybe together we can find a better way to share what we already have. The only bummer is Will can’t make it up, so I have to ensure his wishes, wants and needs are attended to as well!

More on this thought direction soon. Meanwhile, take a look around at your own abode. How much of it do you really use? How much of it have you filled with stuff, just because you can?

Water: Hot and Cold – Friday 28 August 2008


Back at work. We had a wonderful few days in Tasmania. We ate fish and chips at the harbour-side, duck terrine and french fries at a local French restaurant, oysters from the waters off Bruny Island, sheep cheese and Tamar Shiraz, and local organic bacon for brekkie.

We sat on the beach at Adventure Bay one day and then played in the snow on top of Mt Wellington the next. We had some excellent coffee and saw some art, purchased some literature and soaked up some culture. It was fab!

The B&B was really lovely and I had 2 luxurious spa baths – total decadence!

Meanwhile back at work, still no word on my resignation letter, and feeling really annoyed and frustrated. I don’t think they know what to do with me! Anyway I have bypassed my Manager for the first time ever, and will be having a meeting on Monday with my Director to talk about options. Right now I just want to make some art, and go up to Caba to do some work on the shed…

I went to the Art School at Hobart Open Day on Sunday. It was a truly friendly, welcoming, warm and inspiring place, so I have put in an application to (FINALLY) study a BFA. How does this all fit in to the bigger plan? I have no idea yet, making it up as I go along! Stay tuned.

Peppermint Ridge -Friday 22 August 2008

Peppermint Ridge

Right – another quickie post, as Will and I are off travellin’ again. This weekend we head down to Tassie to luxuriate in the freezing cold, and hopefully throw some snow at each other.

We have booked two nights in a B&B at Peppermint Ridge, mainly because I saw it on the cover of an old edition of Owner Builder magazine, and it looked great, so in the interests of research I thought we REALLY SHOULD check it out…(visit their website here )

These last two weeks have been hectic at work, and taking up too much of my time, so not able to make art. Not seeing any satisfactory alternatives I have just put in my resignation, will see how that goes…Actually I would like to negotiate further, but all so dependent on Management’s interpretation of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and such.

I am a technologically skilled and creative worker + professional archivist + DINK + artist who wants more flexibility and does not require permanency. I do not fit the ‘standard profile’, and I am finding the workforce structures of government extremely frustrating, and increasingly impossible to negotiate around. Ironically it’d be easier if I was pregnant, that they can handle!

Well, stay tuned O faithful readers, for the next installment and more on my work /life/art balancing act.

Linky Goodness – Sunday 3 August 2008

Blogs that feature houses of the green persuasion that I would like to share with you this week:




And finally something a bit inspirational that I stumbled upon, however you may need lots of bandwidth to fully appreciate this one (as it has bits of video to download):

BTW: The tanks have arrived and Bob is installing the extra bits soon, so hopefully they will start filling with lovely clean mountain water soon…

Cecily & Cecily Remembered – Wednesday 23 July 2008 & Sunday 27 July 2008

Cecily remembered

As everyone who reads this probably already knows, my grandmother Cecily passed away on Friday 18 July, apparently fairly suddenly and peacefully. I am attending her memorial service this Friday in Moruya, along with family and her friends.

I expect there will be poetry and images and many lovely words offered up in memory of Cec and  her many wonderful deeds. I expect to cry buckets.


Back in Melbourne, after attending Cecily’s funeral. What a wonderful event. Thank you so much to all who organised it, as it flowed beautifully from graveside to waterside.

Friends and family came from near and far to share in a celebration of Cec’s life and her works. There were songs, photographs, stories, poems, paintings and even a movie!  I feel so fortunate to be part of a family that is so inspired and creative. Dreamers able to think in new ways about old stuff.

Inspired by Cecily, we go back to our everyday lives with a new strength. Ready to work for change in whatever way we have chosen. Once again, Cecily’s gift was to us all.

What is Green Building – Sunday 13 July 2008

The fabulous TreeHugger site has a thread about this. Looks like the definitive guide does not exist (sorry folks, there is no formula)!

As we all suspected, it is about changing behaviour – there is no technological quick-fix.

Some Reading – Friday 11 July 2008

Sorry, I see it has been a while since I last wrote. Not a lot to report on the building front, so I thought I might share with you some of the reading I have been doing.

I absolutely love the glossy coffee table books that are being published at the moment that feature showcase ‘Green Buildings’. Every time I go to the library, there seems to be a new one! So I lug it home. Along with my very heavy art books, I have a lot of weighty tomes about the house.

The houses in these books look lovely and are kind to the environment – so who could ask for more? Yet somehow they are strangely unsatisfying.

I find a) they are not very useful for people on budgets such as mine and b) the same houses seem to feature over and over again. The picture accompanying today’s entry is a house that I have now seen in several books!

Currently, on my bedside table I have:

– Tree Houses By Architects, James Grayson Truelove (ed), Harper Collins, 2004

– Green Homes: New Ideas for Sustainable Living, Sergi Costa Duran, Collins Design, 2007

And the much daggier, but way more useful:

  1. The Green Technology House & Garden Book, from ATA Publications, 1993

Speaking of ATA, I will provide here a link to the website of this fabulously useful organisation. Even better they are Melbourne based.


Life Without a Car – Sunday 22 June 2008

Life without a car

Interesting interview from TreeHugger site: For sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Will and I have been living without a car for a year and a half, and in the last 6 years I have mostly not had a car. Will doesn’t drive anyway, but I have, at times found it difficult to do without one, although it certainly saves us money!

We are fortunate, (or should I say it was one of our criteria when we last moved) to live near trains, trams and buses. The only times I miss having a car is when we do the weekly shopping (for instance, today it is raining, not so much fun!) when picking up big loads, and to take spontaneous trips out of town on weekends.

For the most part we have adapted to life without a car. I ride to work most days and I can also take a bus if I want to. Will takes a train.

This year I also joined a car-sharing company called Flexicar, which has been useful, but isn’t quite the ANSWER I have been looking for, as it seems a bit expensive and the car isn’t that close.  Car-sharing would be great, but I have come to the conclusion that it can only work if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by. Any other options make the pick-up and drop-off options too complicated and time-consuming. I would be very interested to hear others thought on the matter.

Moss Green Tanks – Wednesday 18 June 2008

Moss Green Tanks

The picture above is of moss green tanks, one of the ‘diverse’ range of colours available for plastic tanks, and the colour I ordered for the two tanks that will be catching water from the shed roof very soon. The others (specially designed to blend into the australian bush) were: desert sand, burnt gum, flyblown sheep, desalination, kangaroo carcass…ok, joking, joking…

But anyway, not one of the colours offered was actually the colour of the grass up on the ridge. That colour, visible from far away when we were there, is literally orangey purpley red. It is the kangaroo grass which has changed colour for the winter and it was spectacular. Just follow this link for some interesting facts about kangaroo grass. I note especially that it is a ‘threatened’ species in Victoria, and that its disappearance is linked to ‘inadequate land management practices’. Hmmm, so its good that we have so much of it.

Also, remember if you haven’t already – READ the article FERALS AND THEIR MUDDIES.

Fletcher Meredith. Ferals and their muddies. History Australia 2004; 2(1): . DOI:10.2104/ha040008 (click on the title to open in a new window)

Love to see your comments as always, this post I am aiming for a Newbie Virgin poster, come on you can do it, i know u can!


Visit to Cabanandra – Thursday 12 June 2008

campfire at caba

Finally, I get back to putting up some content!

Will and I had a bash at the shed, and now we really feel we are getting somewhere. It was a bit like a royal visit really, because we have done hardly any of the hands-on work, we just swan in, bash in a nail and feel we have really achieved something…however…it really looks good, and everyone commented on the quality of the work Bob has done (helped by various others – and thank you Daz for your star turn on Friday arvo).

We also had a bit of a go at demolishing something too. Many of you will remember the hut, below the A-frame? We had to take off the front verandah as the structure was falling into the river. We are all hoping that Persia and Kaz (and Nubi) can make a bit of a pad out of what is still a very sound structure underneath all dodgy termite ridden bits.

Tassie Tall Tales – Monday 19 May 2008

Just back from Tasmania, where we enjoyed some fine food, had some nice strolls, poked around the market and visited Port Arthur. What a beautiful place! What an enormously layered history. Such extraordinary buildings – designed by government administrators but built by convicts, simply beautiful stonework and stone carving.

A place that is more than just landscape, with historic and emotional overlays dating from the earliest days of Australian settlement to the more recent tourist visitors. From massacres to convicts to massacres again.

Systems Thinking and Dialogue – Parts 1, 2, 3

Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 May 2008

System thinking and dialogue

This might seem a pretty far out subject for a blog about building, but hey, this blog is for my family and friends only, so I figure you know me well enough to know I do tend to digress, and often!

I have been thinking about systems a lot lately, as I examine my artistic work processes in the context of the contemporary art discourse as part of my ARTLAB course. This is a year long course (or what I would call a facilitated discussion) to assist emerging artists to operate in the contemporary artistic scene. Totally engrossing and lots of new language to learn.

Also the other thing is that my role at work is changing, as I am applying for a new position of Information Management Advisor (yes, I KNOW!!!) that has been created for my ‘special skill set’.

The interesting thing is that I am noticing a lot of cross-over in the two disciplines of my work and my art, which is very interesting, challenging and fulfilling. Not sure yet down what paths my thinking on this will lead me, but looking forward to the journey.

One thing I am noticing though, is that the ‘old-fashioned’ modernist heroic artist and creator of beautiful things way of being an artist is probably not for me. I reckon I am going to end up working in a much more cross-disciplinary way, and stay tuned for more about how that relates to building in the next blog.

Eleanor Rosch distinguishes between two types of knowledge: analytical knowledge (cognitive science) and what she terms “wisdom awareness” or “primary knowing.”

Says Rosch:

The analytic picture offered by the cognitive sciences is this: the world consists of separate objects and states of affairs. The human mind is a determinate machine which, in order to know: isolates and identifies those objects and events, finds the simplest possible predictive contingencies between them, stores the results through time in memory, relates the items in memory to each other such that they form a coherent but indirect representation of the world and oneself, and retrieves those representations in order to fulfill the only originating value, which is to survive and reproduce in an evolutionarily successful manner.”

In contrast,

Awareness is said to [be knowing] by means of interconnected wholes (rather than isolated contingent parts) and by means of timeless, direct, presentation (rather than through stored re-presentations). Such knowing is ‘open,’ rather than determinate; and a sense of unconditional value, rather than conditional usefulness, is an inherent part of the act of knowing itself. Action from awareness is claimed to be spontaneous, rather than the result of decision making; it is compassionate, since it is based on wholes larger than the self; and it can be shockingly effective.”

From an extraordinary interview with Eleanor Rosch. She rambles a bit, but how could you not when talking about this stuff?

In one of my previous posts ( Indigenous Law vs Blunt Tools) I talked about UNDERSTANDING, which I think is something like this ‘wisdom awareness’ that Rosch talks about.

So how does it relate to building? Well, I think that many of the things that we all love in our homes are universal things. For example a sense of warmth, comfort, protection, security, light and etc. So building ‘eco-friendly’ (which owner builders understand because they have learnt it through experience!) such as using passive solar principles, using local labour, sustainable materials, building as a response to the environment, etc, could also be universal thing. BUT, it must be available at the level of ‘wisdom awareness’ or ‘primary thinking’. This cannot come from more legislation.

As Sam Sergi says in my earlier post

SAM SERGI: I do believe we need parameters to kind of work in with if it’s going to help the environment, because we need to look towards the future and try and economise, yeah, but by the same token, you know, need to have a sense of “this is what I feel I would like to have“.

This sense is the UNDERSTANDING or wisdom awareness that I refer to.

Some more DEEP THINKING for a Sunday morning. And remember I am making this up as I go along.

To obtain a ‘view of system in which I am working or living’ (to discover the context within with I am operating), before I take action, can be difficult because it is usually from a position embedded within this system that I am trying to get a view of it!.

So, when taking action to change systems within which I operate, (when I am using my creative hat) I will sometimes use my sense of intuition or KNOWING rather than my memory and the observable evidence (the FACTS). If I tried to paint a word picture of this, it might be:

A scientist explorer type wants to explore a forest for which there is no map. He wants to make a map to sell to fund more expeditions. So he needs to climb to the top of a hill to look out over the forest (as a scientist he needs to observe the forest in context to map it). However, he is in this dark and impenetrable forest (without a map obviously, and he is not in an aeroplane because he couldn’t get the funding!), so to get to the foot of that hill will be a matter of luck and persistence and also based on his experiences about what has worked in the past. After 3 weeks of walking he gets to the lookout eventually and then he makes an incredibly detailed map, which he then publishes and so becomes acclaimed for his feats of exploration. In scientific practice, this is the most valid way of working. From his work, a series of maps are published and bush walkers buy to help them find their way about that particular forest when they go, and he gets to explore more forests.

Perhaps an artist explorer type, (who doesn’t have time to spend blundering blindly about, as she has foolishly booked an exhibition which is in 2 weeks!), also goes to the forest, but just takes some photos and makes a camp. At night she lies down to sleep.  She has dreams of flying above the forest all night. When she wakes up in the morning she makes a map based on her dreams. It is a bit sketchy, but back in the studio she can make refinements using the photos. The exhibition opens, and others flock to look at this artwork, which looks like a map of the forest but mostly it evokes in them an experience of flying over the forest, without them ever having to go there. Someone likes it so much for what it evokes in them that they buy it. In artistic practice this is one way of many perfectly valid ways of working, but a bush-walker would never use her artwork as a map for that particular forest!

So this ‘primary knowing’, (which incidentally is often discounted by science, and yet even some of the great scientists would tell you that their biggest breakthroughs just ‘came to them’), this sense of there being an unspecifiable awareness or UNDERSTANDING which can be readily tapped into (I think this has also been called ‘Flow’ in some circles) is very important.

Note that here there is even a space in this model for intuition (so often discounted as a feminine and artistic and just plain wrong thinking in our dualistic right/wrong cognitive scientific models!)

For more from the Rosch interview follow this link:

Table l: Two modes of knowledge and knowing (from: Eleanor Rosch)

Earth Building and Five Star – Thursday 24 April 2008

5 Star Earth building

Just before I move on to other stuff, I thought I might provide a couple more links that I have found through my travels on the ‘net.

These are more related to mud-brick buildings, but it does look like some lobbying has been done to improve the energy rating software tool that generates the 5 star rating, and it may now be better adjusted for earth buildings.

Finally, I thought I might put in a link to an interesting article written about building. Some of you may already have read it.

Fletcher Meredith. Ferals and their muddies. History Australia 2004; 2(1): . DOI:10.2104/ha040008 (click on the title to open in a new window)

It is a short narrative history from an outsider’s perspective of the owner building process in Cabanandra in the 70s and 80s, (which makes it partly my story too, as it starts the year I was born) and a nice read.

Indigenous Law vs Blunt Tools – Sunday 20 April 2008


I know what Eddie means about being “worried about our type of cultures putting indigenous cultures up on a pedestal.  This is dangerous because we then do not see clearly.”

As a child, and even as an adult, I had always wondered why the aboriginal legends and the laws that I had read about seemed so cruel, harsh and unforgiving. To me those Dreaming stories seemed somehow repellant, and I  felt a bit guilty that I wasn’t more drawn to them, because somehow as the child of an intellectual left-leaning counter-culture-exploring family, I felt I should have been.

Seeing the Centre was about seeing that land for the first time and really beginning to understand why there was such harshness in the stories I had read. To my eyes, the Centre is an extremely beautiful, but harsh landscape. As I said last post: “these laws were developed as a response to living in an extremely inhospitable environment.” Until then I had only seen this ‘landscape’ in photographs, which was not the same as me experiencing and then UNDERSTANDING the land.

Laws are blunt tools if there is no understanding. They are just impositions, and can seem harsh. A culture or tribe or group of people will also be more likely to break them or find ways around them, unless they UNDERSTAND the consequences. (Here when I use understand I would liken it to being ‘an involvement of the head and heart’, ‘mind and body and soul united’ or ‘in my DNA’ or ‘every part aligned towards one purpose’ or ‘feeling it in my bones’ or ‘true awareness’ – something like that.)

How does this relate to building ‘green’? The new 5 star rating requirements could be seen as a blunt tool. One study found that developers in Victoria, since these new requirements came out, have been building even larger and more energy-guzzling McMansions than before and still meeting the requirements.

“Average energy-related emissions for new dwellings are almost six per cent higher than those of existing dwellings, mainly due to people buying inefficient appliances and lighting, so clearly the five-star building standards need to be further improved” link to more

SAM SERGI: This is my castle, yeah, and it would be a bit hard for people to come and tell you what you can and can’t do. I do believe we need parameters to kind of work in with if it’s going to help the environment, because we need to look towards the future and try and economise, yeah, but by the same token, you know, need to have a sense of “this is what I feel I would like to have”. link to more

I am willing to submit to these 5 star requirements because I believe that they are a ‘good thing’ in principle. But it is a blunt tool (a paternalistic rule-making approach). People being able to experiment and make dwellings just as a response to their environment (without lots of laws) could actually be a more powerful way to develop the UNDERSTANDING which I am talking about.

The Centre – Friday 18 April 2008


Going to the Centre and seeing Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (Olgas) and Watarrka (Kings Canyon) last year was one of the most important trips I have ever done.

For the first time I truly understood how long it actually takes a people to learn to live upon the land without damaging it (and the flip-side – how much damage we have done to the land in such a short time). I also (finally!) understood how indigenous laws and customs were actually developed as a response to the landscape over generations so that survival and growth for the whole tribe was possible. Every single person in a family group had a set of laws to abide by, and breaking them had serious consequences, because they were life-threatening. These laws were developed as a response to living in (what seems to any white person, anyway) an extremely inhospitable environment.

Before that trip, you could say that I knew these things, but didn’t really UNDERSTAND.

Anyway, Will made a suggestion to me that I am getting too far ahead of myself, and I should slow down, stop worrying about the laws. That I should be more worried about making sure I get the things I want in a dwelling, than about the rules that other people have set, I think is what he meant (and I am sure he will correct me if not!) So in the end that is what I will be doing.

I agree that 5 star home ratings are a good thing in principle. However, I don’t think that settings such rules necessarily encourages people to learn to build as a response to their environment. We need a bit more than some extra laws to help people do that.

Rammed Earth – Monday 14 April 2008

Eddie, I am totally with you on the use of rammed earth, and I find I like the look of it more than mud brick or straw-bale techniques – I am really into streamlined, modernist styles, and I think rammed earth can be used for that ‘look and feel’. There are already a couple of lovely looking rammed earth structures popping up around the place at Cabanandra, and I would love to have a good solid passive solar earth wall collecting the winter sun. Whether it will be part of the house, I do not yet know (see below for more explanation of this).

One thing I thought I might do is outline the current order of proceedings, so everyone understands all my structures (is it a bit greedy, planning 3 buildings? I am hoping that others will come and use them too!)

First up is the simple shed (BUILDING 1), Bob will whack it up quick (will pass on to Bob all the helpful suggestions), so that we can get the architect to come and have a look at the dwelling site and draw up some house plans to start the building sooner rather than later (Early 2009). I will then be going,  all official like, via the local council, as so far that particular block has no official dwelling on it, and Bob is getting a bit nervous, because he wants to stay ‘comfy’ in his shed.

At first the studio and dwelling (to be used as a retreat/getaway/holiday house) were going to be one building. Now I think the ‘house’ (BUILDING 2) will be very small structure, and the studio (BUILDING 3) will be a separate building, so that I can more easily progress through the council application process. Then(could be 5 + years away) I will look at the shed (BUILDING 1) again with a view to converting to a workshop for all the power tools and a foundry (a place for all my really dirty work, not the nice, relatively clean painting & drawing stuff).

However all this may change in the planning as we have a new building compliance situation here in Victoria, where all new houses are required to comply with the 5 star energy rating scheme. POSSIBLY MORE ABOUT THIS NEXT POST, but my preliminary research has freaked me out a bit! Here is a quote from the Building Commission’s FAQ page:

Are there any concessions for mud brick, earth berm wall or rammed earth construction?

There are no exceptions for these types of construction for new dwellings. The issue of embodied energy has been considered in development of energy efficiency measures in the BCA.  A policy decision has been taken at a national level and software has been tested against international validation procedures. This will be subject to further research in the future.”

…what does THAT mean? Hoping I can get some more guidance on this.

The Art Thing – Sunday 13 April 2008

The art thing

Just a word about the art thing. Like, why exactly? Why do I fight so hard for it, turning down stellar career opportunities to work part-time so I can go to art school?  Pouring money into it. Forgoing things like houses and cars for it. Sometimes the art thing just seems so self-indulgent too. Its not political. Its not helping save lives.

Last week, things were getting particularly stressful at work. With my superiors gone awol, I had much responsibility and no power. Like always, I had Friday off. Every Friday I go to my sculpture class, but hadn’t been for three weeks due to holidays.

But I nearly didn’t go. That morning as I was reviewing the last couple of weeks at work in my mind, I found myself (again)thinking that I may just have to drop my class. I would try to pick it up next year. Devote my time to the job. After all, I rationalised, I could do with the extra money to help me build.

But I made myself go, knowing (sort of instinctively) that somehow it always makes me feel better. And I got to class. Where my teacher told me to stop thinking and start playing.  ‘Ok then, you just shut up brain’, I said, to my brain.

So is started playing. And I became calm. Sense of perspective ‘miraculously’ restored. Yes, I work hard and so sometimes I need to play. I had an unbalanced mind for a while there. Thats why the art thing.

Shed Plans II – Friday 11 April 2008

Peter suggests that the north side should have more glass, especially if it is to be used as a workshop. Yes I do plan to use the shed as a workshop eventually, and to that end I would like to line it as well.

The workshop idea is definitely something I will be pursuing for the future. I have a lot of research to do (and money to earn), but the plan is that the shed will become a functioning workshop for my art practice. I would like to use a combination of wind and solar power to power the workshop, and would love to set up a foundry as well.

Along with the proposed studio, I should have enough space to do my work and store my work in!

So, Pete, I will check with Bob what he is thinking, but I think that more glass will end up being a consideration for the future, rather than right now.

I think Bob and I are aligned on the idea that buildings are especially beautiful when they function well. The idea is that each building is ‘modulised’ so that things can be changed or added to easily, as the building use changes.

Shed Plans – Wednesday 9 April 2008

Shed Plans

Shed plans have arrived. Sent Friday, arrive Monday. My, ain’t Australia Post efficient.

Now remember folks, this is just the start. A structure to collect water, store materials, and possibly camp under. The house is yet to come. Materials and labour costs will make this shed under $4000 to build. Cheaper if I made it myself, but I don’t have that kind of life. What I do have is enough disposable income to pay for someone else to do it.

How is it eco-friendly? Well these are my measures, as there is no ‘standardised’ rating system (or maybe there is, if so let me know). For me it is important that it is low-cost. That the materials are gathered locally if possible, and that money goes to local people to support the local economy. It may mean that some materials I purchase are more expensive from local businesses, but this is balanced by the fact that transport costs are substantially cheaper. It is also important that as much as possible can be re-used or gathered from the property. However, in some cases I would choose a manufactured product, if the effort and time required to retrofit is too great. For the shed, the post will be off the property, but the hardwood timber for the frame will be purchased from Bendoc mill.

In all these decisions, I am relying on Bob’s knowledge and experience.

How Action Shapes Thoughts – Monday 7 April 2008

Cabanandra Dreaming

So, I made my first payment to Bob on Thursday. I went online and deposited straight into his account. Took me a couple of minutes. He was going shopping in Bombala the very next day, and he was able to get the money out of his account and pay the man for some materials to start the building of the shed. So easy for me, so convenient for him. There are some very good things about technology.

Before this happened, somehow it all seemed like me dreaming, this just one of the many, many ideas that I have floating around in the one day, some day pond of ideas.

With action, just that simple action of typing in some numbers and pressing ‘enter’, it all changed. This is real now. Things will now happen in the real world, real things. This is serious.

By the way, this image shows where the shed will go. On top of the ridge, somewhere above the track, before it veers to the left. It will be built from Colourbond, in a colour that blends in. It will cost more, but I think its worth it.

Good Dark Bad Dark – Sunday 6 April 2008

good dark bad dark

Last night our power went off. It flickered once, came back on for a second then just went. We were watching a DVD. Given our options (read a book by the weak light of a candle, play a card game or have a conversation), we decided to go to bed a bit early.

We decided we would worry about all the food in our fridge (left over from entertaining, as usual we had over-catered) in the morning. Luckily for us, the power came back on little more than an hour later, problem solved.

I know that much of Melbourne is without power until at least Monday, caused, they say on the news, by the damage done during the storm last week. Lights are off all over town. Candles were apparently the cause of a house burning down with someone in it.

Climate change will cause such changes to normal weather patterns that I can only believe that the chances of us experiencing such storms are just going to increase. I am thinking that there may be a lot more power-cuts in our future here in Melbourne. Will we finally get sick of going to bed early, and start to discover other ways of living without the power?

Earth Hour for some may may have just been a ‘stunt’, but as Sonya Hartnett in The Age so beautifully puts it:

humans have never liked the dark, not really. Our most prized servant is fire, that banisher of the night and all that night allows… its been strange and wondrous to walk through a blackness that has, instead, promised that life and renewal can be ours.  As Jake, a seven-year-old acquaintance, put it: “Earth Hour isn’t bad dark, its good dark.” (Sat, April 5) link to article