Four Slides, Four Minutes

Also Known As: Four Things That Made Me Who I Am.

Also Known As: Oh Right, That Explains A Lot.

As you may know, I sit on the National Council of the Australia Institute of Landscape Architects.

The current National Council first met at the end of last year, and our newly elected President, Daniel Bennett, had a great idea: at each of our face-to-face meetings, a few of us would do a small presentation to the group. We would each have four slides, and a maximum of four minutes. There were no other rules, other than we had to somehow introduce ourselves to the group.

A fortnight ago we met again in Geelong, and my number came up.

I decided not to show any landscape-y photos and not to talk about anything landscape-y that you couldn't already find out from my website.

That left me with this...

  I grew up in an architect-designed house that didn't look like other houses in the street. Our house also had a name, Solar 2, which is pretty much the coolest name a house can have. Next door was the Sugar Research Institute, a fantastic heritage-listed building designed by Karl Langer, the famous emigre architect after whom AILA's annual student prize is named. At the front of the ground is a row of royal palms: there was originally one for each of the founding member sugar mills. Behind our house was sugar cane. There was cane owned by the Sugar Research Institute and cane owned by our neighbours. Every year it would get burnt, in dramatic, brief conflagrations, prior to harvesting. In front of our house was the Bruce Highway, the major north-south arterial road. Across the road was The Lagoons, which is now home to the Mackay Botanic Gardens. I considered all of this area part of my home territory, and it's only now looking back, that I realise what a distinctive clustering of land uses it was.

 I grew up in an architect-designed house that didn't look like other houses in the street.

Our house also had a name, Solar 2, which is pretty much the coolest name a house can have.

Next door was the Sugar Research Institute, a fantastic heritage-listed building designed by Karl Langer, the famous emigre architect after whom AILA Queensland's annual student prize is named.

At the front of the grounds is a row of royal palms: there was originally one for each of the founding member sugar mills.

Behind our house was sugar cane. Every year it would get burnt, in dramatic, brief conflagrations, prior to harvesting.

In front of our house was the Bruce Highway, the major north-south arterial road.

Across the road was The Lagoons, which is now home to the Mackay Botanic Gardens.

I considered all of this area part of my home territory, and it's only now looking back, that I realise what a distinctive clustering of land uses it was.

We also had a beach shack.

It had posts made from barely smoothed tree trunks, windows you had to prop open, and a floor made of triangular panels from the sides of old cane wagons.

The floor had originally been painted one colour, and then the people who owned the shack before us painted it a different colour.

They didn't move any of their furniture before they started painting, so when we had the place the floor was an odd patchwork of furniture-shaped paint outlines.

Water came from tanks or the bore.

You had to prime the pump to get it going.

The shower - outside - was heated via an extremely dodgy system involving live wires and water.

There was also an outside dunny - horrific.

Across the road though, was the beach. It was brilliant.

I love books.

I have always loved reading - it is one of my great pleasures and delights.

I love everything about books - their weight, feel, smell - and I love to look at them, buy them, and have them piled up around me.
I usually have about three books on the go at any one time: one fiction, one design-related, and one other.

I have just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, a small, exquisite, painful and beautiful book written by Paul Kalanithi, who studied literature and neuroscience before training as a neurosurgeon.

Just months before completing his residency he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

He wrote this book in the last months of his life.

I learnt to play the piano in a darkened room.

My teacher was Mrs Brock.

I would go to her house for lessons, which were held in the living room. All the curtains would be drawn.

The usual living room furniture was all about, but there was also a folding plastic banana lounge in the middle of the room.

Mrs Brock would lie back on the banana lounge, slowly smoking a cigarette, whilst I played my practice pieces from the week before.

The she would sit up at the piano for the rest of the lesson, occasionally letting rip as she demonstrated a new Big Band or ragtime piece.

I thought she was the most exotic person ever.

 

Well, there you have it!