december 2012

Occupy! then diversify

originally written for Cutting Edge Permaculture, Sydney.

Permaculture has been described as revolution disguised as organic gardening. In October 2011 I orchestrated a small revolution in my own life by leaving Sydney for four months to spend time outside the city to do a PDC for Women with Lea Harrison, some meditation retreats and WWOOF on permaculture properties. While barely leaving New South Wales, it was the most life-changing and world-expanding trip I've made to date.

Just as I was off to explore different ways of being in the world beyond Sydney, Occupy Sydney sprouted on Martin Place. One of the many actions that mushroomed across the globe from the Occupy Wall Street movement, it sought to raise awareness and support for those left homeless and indebted in the wake of the global financial crisis and point to the blatant inequities of our dominant world reality - the consumer capitalist system. A true people's movement, involving many political ideas and organisations aligning to call for human need before corporate greed, it has expressed itself worldwide through the simple gesture of encampment in public space and spotlighted urban homelessness in the process. Claiming "We are the 99%" and "We are the ones we've been waiting for", by the time I returned to Sydney there were reports that the camp outside the Reserve Bank of Australia had been dismantled by police and it seemed as though I had missed the whole phenomenon.

april 2011



55 Sydenham RdMarrickville NSW 2204 AU 

Life Signs  

1. Throughway for a lizard

On the 2nd of March I made a first visit to 55 Sydenham Rd. We sat in the space and had a long chat about the effort that went into renovating and constructing the studios and gallery, what kind of work we were doing when we were both in the M.H Franks Upholstery building studios in Camperdown back in the Nineties and the increasing drift of artist-run spaces out to Marrickville. We reflected on the disquieting role of artist-run initiatives in the gentrification of neighbourhoods - triggering the urban change that ultimately displaces artists and other poorer locals. Looking around the room for points of interest, I found a small hole passing right through the concrete floor to the level below. It was described how during the months of building work a lizard was seen coming up through this hole, crossing the room and under the wall to another part of the building. A hole in the new gallery wall temporarily restores the potential passage of a lizard across the upper floor of an industrial warehouse building in Marrickville.


october 2012

looking up  

Cutting Edge Permaculture is a small inter-generational team preparing a handcrafted, not-for-profit urban permaculture design course to be held in south-west Sydney in February 2013.

VJL PDC 2013_flyer

may 2012

the nearing's good life


The Good Life:
Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living

by Helen and Scott Nearing
Schocken Books, New York 1989

'We left the city with three objectives in mind. The first was economic. We sought to make a depression-free living, as independent as possible of the commodity and labour markets, which could not be interfered with by employers, whether business-men, politicians or educational administrators. Our second aim was hygienic. We wanted to maintain and improve our health. We knew that the pressures of city life were exacting, and we sought a simple basis of well-being where contact with the earth, and home-grown organic food, would play a large part. Our third objective was social and ethical. We desired to liberate and dissociate ourselves, as much as possible, from the cruder forms of exploitation: the plunder of the planet; the slavery of man and beast; the slaughter of men in war, and of animals for food.

We were against the accumulation of profit and unearned income by non-producers, and we wanted to make our living with our own hands, yet with time and leisure for avocational pursuits. We wanted to replace regimentation and coercion with respect for life. Instead of exploitation, we wanted a use economy. Simplicity should take the place of multiplicity, complexity and confusion. Instead of the hectic mad rush of busyness we intended a quiet pace, with time to wonder, ponder and observe. We hoped to replace worry, fear and hate with serenity, purpose and at-one-ness.'

Introduction, pp. 4-5

october 2011

30 million years ago

Coming Back to Life

Meditation retreat drawing on Joanna Macy's Work That Reconnects
21st - 28th October 2011

Naganaga Vihara

Upper Macleay River
Toorooka, NSW

retreat notes:

Theoretical Foundations of the Work that Reconnects

1. This world into which we are born and take our being is alive.

2. Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and society.

3. Our pain for the world springs from our interconnectedness with all beings from which also arises our power to act on their/our behalf.

4. When our pain for the world is experienced and validated, we reconnect with life and our mind retrieves natural clarity.

5. The experience of reconnection with the earth community arouses a desire to act on it's behalf.

september 2011

Reading for:

Permaculture Design Course for Women
Instructed by Lea Harrison
30 October - 12 November 2011
The Channon, NSW

permaculture two

'Standing at the centre, or sitting at your back doorstep, all you need to live a good life lies about you. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround you. Co-operation with all these things makes harmony, opposition to them brings dissonance and chaos. Fukuoka speaks of mahayana, of farming as sacred work in the service of nature, of how people of all religions are attracted to his farm, and his philosophy of natural living and growing, of making no difference between oneself and the world, (for there is no difference, but we can know this only by not wanting to know about it). All we can do is assist in the complexity of life...'

Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture
Bill Mollison
Tagari 1979

teaming with microbes

'Your yard's soil is in large part a product of weathering. Weathering is the sum impact of all the natural forces that decay rocks. These forces can be physical, chemical, or biological. To begin, the mere action of wind, rain, snow, sun and cold (along with glacial grinding, bumps along river beds, scrapes against other rocks, and rolls in ocean waves and stream currents) physical breaks rocks down into tiny mineral particles and starts the process of soil formation.'

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web
Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis
Timber Press 2010
p. 29

october 2009

THE LAB_october 09


For the month of October Lisa Kelly developed an open residency project at Ocular Lab, Brunswick West, Melbourne. Less an exhibition than a set of actions, processes, reading and renewal, THE LAB drew on the Lab’s past use as a private artists studio and observed its shift to a public gallery. Combining the dual purposes of work and presentation space while being attentive to the specific conditions of the site, Kelly engaged in simple process cycles that annexed the basic functions of a public venue. Areas of exploration included onsite waste, streetfront visibility and natural lighting.

This project for Ocular Lab continued the artist's practice of using critical frameworks to investigate the institutions her work is hosted by. In 2008 her project THE__HALL explored the re-purposing of a community hall into an art gallery by a local council.

Ocular Lab
31 Pearson Street
Brunswick West

Open & in progress:
Wednesday to Sunday 1pm-5pm
10th October to 1st November 2009.

Closing gathering:
Saturday 31st October 3-5pm

october 2009 | week one


THE LAB_symbol

Open residency project
Ocular Lab
West Brunswick


week one_street view
week one_room view


week one_day one week one_foam
For the first week it felt right to observe things as they were in the Lab. The given conditions, the objects in the room when I arrived - a plinth, a ladder, a trestle table, an amplifier and some foam - and the movement of light and air into and through the space. It was surprising how much was going on in and at the edges of an empty room. I felt no need to remove the objects, figuring I'd wait to see who had left them and what they might be useful for. For the first few days I was strongly mindful of the practices of Thea Rechner and John Borley, as I paid attention to air and light and sat on the front step with the doors open making eye contact with passing drivers.