october 2009 | week three


THE LAB_symbol

Open residency project
Ocular Lab
West Brunswick


THE LAB_week three_outside view
THE LAB_week three_inside view


week two_honey wagon week two_bucket contents
week two_weedings week two_compost making
week two_bucket on compost week two_weeds on compost
Riding week two’s collected toilet and organic material back to the compost site on Thea’s bike as honey-wagon. Weeding the overgrown house garden and feeding it to the heap, enjoying time in the sun and air outside in this grassy meadow.

week three_Lab statement 2005
week three_Lab statement 2 week three_Lab files
week three_window image on file 1 week three_window image on file 2
Leafing through the collection of publications and files on the shelf in the passage outside the kitchen. Paying attention to Ocular Lab’s self-description statements (from publications in 2005 & 2007), and noticing the shifts in inflection from writer to writer. Thinking of peripheral details – that the shopfront was formerly a milk bar, run by Mrs Vignoli, who still lives in the house adjoining. That the room was used as a private artists studio, before it shifted back to a public space as a gallery. That Ocular Lab is nearing its end and will return to being a private studio after March next year.

From 2003-2006 a record of projects at the Lab was kept in file folders, including exhibition details, images and statements. In the back catalogue I notice an image of the rectangle stripped in the paint by Julie Davies to show a small screen in the Pearson St window. And an image showing the former gallery signage and street number on the glass over the doorway.

week three_window stripping 3 week three_stripping 2
week three_paint layers week three_paint peelings
Continuing to strip the paint from the windows, this week using a fragrant citrus based product. Noticing the traces of the former Lab window interventions I’ve been told about – the 5cm frame cut all around the edge of each pane by Bill Seeto, a 20 cent coin sized periscope hole by Sean Loughrey and the rectangle to reveal a screen by Julie Davies. Finding layers of colour beneath the white, including red and black used in previous shows by Alex Rizkalla. Steadily obliterating this material record.

week three_bottle brushes
Picking some of the bottle-brushes that were in a blaze all along Pearson and Albert St’s. Aware that the colour red has been waving at me like a flag here – red blankets, a red rose, red rubber gloves, red everywhere.

week three_clover progress 1 week three_clover progress 2
week three_clover progress 3 week three_clover progress 4
The progress of clover, indoors and out.

By week three I’d become attuned to the sound of the postie’s motorbike approaching around the same time each afternoon. One day I stood in the doorway, thinking to record his passing as a blur of fluorescent orange. But he stopped – for me!

week three_the letter
A card from my friend Lucy, with news of her garden and our workplace. The arrival of post, personally addressed and received, was pleasing testament to my being “in residence”.

week three_rock lunching week three_footpath lunching
Eating lunch in the streetscape. On the rock, on the footpath.

week three_ rose's progress 1 week three_rose's progress 2
The rose’s progress.

As the view to the street from within the Lab became wider, I started to enjoy the corner panorama effect. Particularly the unwieldy passage of large trucks around, or over, the roundabout. Noticing again, from the conversation with Alex, how the roundabout is designed to be mounted by the supermarket trucks on their way to Sydney Rd. And the way that sometimes, as with this one, a truck would pass by in one direction and back in the other soon after – completing the turn in two stages.

week three_roses pink week three_roses yellow
week three_Rose st week three_La Rose st
week three_mrs vignoli's roses week three_red roses
Noticing how many roses are planted in the front gardens of Brunswick. Taking note of blooms and two street names on my route home from the Lab.

week three_sink and soap week three_cleaning loo
Wiping down the handbasin and putting out soap. Cleaning the loo. Doing the dishes.

week three_notes panel 2
Taping up printouts of the blog notes on the red panel in the hallway, where they catch passing air.

week three_dinner table prep week three_spring flowers
week three_dinner guests gathering 2 week three_talk
week three_dinner week three_dinner view
week three_lamps week three_blankets & bodies
Preparing the room and table with Sandie for the Friday night dinner and talk. Friends and Lab members arrive in the last of the day’s light. I introduce my practice and THE LAB via a project from this time last year, THE__HALL. Dips and bread by Julie, a tomato soup with pasta, rosemary and lemon by Sandie, and Lebanese pastries and fruit from Sydney Rd. With a red slide, the data projector became a room softening light source, along with household lamps brought in by Kylie and Bianca. Blankets became a bed for a cold body needing rest.

Arriving on Saturday and noticing balloons tied to the telegraph pole on the corner with a handmade garage sale sign. The ways people draw attention in the streetscape. The day was windy, and their movement against the pole an echo of the flutterings Thea had been observing in Sydney. Midway through a conversation that day I looked and noticed the red balloon had popped. By the end of the day, both had.

week three_light shape 1 week three_light shape from fence
week three_light shape 2 week three_light shape from rock
week three_light shape 3 week three_light shape from tree
Noting the light shape cast by the building facade from three different vantage points – standing on Mrs Vignoli’s front fence, on the rock and in the tree.

week three_day bed
Making a day bed for my own tired body.

week three_lisa meet lauren
Receiving visitors, like Lauren, author of She Sees Red. We pass an hour or two sitting, drinking tea and chatting – about how we know our mutual friend Lucas, our mutual compulsion to document and how to find restraint and balance and the Melbourne Laneways project, which sparks a rambly musing on light. I’m keen to see Geoff Robinson’s current laneway project that reflects and reorients sunlight. Lauren connects this to the ray of light designed to beam into Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance at exactly 11:00am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – or 12 midday these days, thanks to daylight savings. I wonder if that is in effect an oculus, and think back to my experience of the Pantheon in Rome. We continue on the daylight savings theme, likening it to a kind of time warping and pondering the repeated referendums held in WA and QLD that have returned a resounding “NO” to its institution in those states. We try to think of the reasons why – agricultural we figure – and find they’re a little beyond our inner-city, coastal frames of reference.

week three_field girl 1 week three_field girl 2
week three_field boy 1 week three_field boy 2
Sightings of fellow field workers. A young woman shooting video of the roundabout, and then seeming to follow a bird hopping along the road – which she caught, wrapped up and carried away. Soon after, a young man standing on the roundabout, waiting for something or someone and checking his phone.

week three_sun signs
Sun signs.

week three_power lines week three_lines & facade
Sitting on the rock and looking up. Registering the grid of power lines and their intersection with the facade.

week three_layered vision 1
week three_layered vision 2
Heightened layering of vision and reflection in the Lab windows.


week three_Fieldwork

Edited and Co-Produced by Jacob Bee, Ronald Boer, Valerie Dempsey, Erin Gleason, Florian Graf, Naomi Hennig, Melissa MacRobert, Julia Martin and Christine Wylie.
Consulting editor Dr. Clementine Deliss
Published by A/S/N Mutual Press, 2009

Eelco Hootfman

When you are given a brief as a landscape architect, how do you engage with it in terms of fieldwork?

Being a landscape architect is completely intertwined with the idea of having a site. I like the term field, because it’s neutral. It doesn’t have a particular dimension attached to it. As an entity, field seems to indicate a boundary around a set of operations, otherwise where would it start, where would it stop? Fieldwork is not a word I would normally use. I would probably refer to site analysis. For a landscape architect, regardless of the style you proclaim, the most important issue is that the product comes out of a particular place. I don’t think I would ever just take a product to a place. Some artists do, so that’s not a criticism. The Land Art movement got out of the gallery in that way and some of the best writings on the subject are by Robert Smithson. He had inspirational ways of seeing a landscape. Whenever I go for a job interview, I visit the site first. The site is where it all starts. That is our ethos.’


week three_visitors
At the end of a long day stripping windows and no visitors, two people from the most consistent artist-run initiative visitor demographic dropped in – fellow artists with upcoming shows at the gallery.
They’d presumed that no one would be there, and as I tidied up and prepared to leave I could hear plans being made to black out the space and the question: “So what do you do about lighting?”. “…Spots…”


Humble Pile, a nutrient recovery project by Nance Klehm
The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins


To my many hosts and helpers…Sandra Bridie, Tom Nicholson, Clare Land, Julie Davies, Alex Rizkalla, Ocular Lab, Thea Rechner, Lucas Ihlein, Josie Cavallaro, Anne Kay, Bianca Hester, Kylie Wilkinson, John Najjar Furniture Forever.