Friday, 19 October 2012


Introducing the newest member of Artist as Family: Blackwood Ulman Jones. Born on August 26, which also happens to be Patrick's birthday. Welcome to the family, Woody!

To introduce him to the earth we thought we would dig a hole in the garden and plant his frozen placenta.

And of course we planted a blackwood tree on top, which the placenta will continue to nourish.

Blackwood wattles (Acacia melanoxylon) are local to cool mountainous climates in Victoria and Tasmania, and thus a tree local to where Woody lives.

Blackwoods are soil builders and companion plants to eucalypts and native cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis), and named because of their intensely dark wood.

Woody's Hebrew name, עץ גדול (Etz Gadol), means big tree.

Grow well little Big Tree!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A statement

We have been asked to supply some images and a statement concerning Food Forest for a forthcoming Thames and Hudson publication that surveys ecological art globally. Here's our new statement about the work and an early plan drawing we haven't shared before:
Food Forest is a work that champions biodiversity and demonstrates that materially art can be generative; can be a resource, rather than just an extractor or exploiter of resources. In other words art can be generative contiguous with ecological functioning. Thus this work attempts to blur the line between art and nature. Food Forest is a biological system that is in part self-maintaining. It utilises a combination of applied ecology (mimicking a forest system) and what Artist as Family call 'social warming' (art that makes relationships). It’s a poetic space; a garden that supplies uncapitalised food for a soup kitchen and the nearby community; a physical poem set on publicly accessible church ground; a home to marginalised urban dwellers, wildlife and bourgeois organisms. It is a space to inhabit, to garden, to find solace. Its politic makes a clear departure from typical expressions of nihilistic contemporary art. The work is informed by permaculture utopianism, which has in turn been informed by how traditional communities function as non-polluting custodians of land. The food produced by the work forms part of a local gift economy.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Good Wood

We found some wood, you see. A whole stack of old hardwood batons that were holding up the tiles of a roof that was being retiled in time for the winter rains. The tiler was thrilled when we asked if we could take it, saving him a trip to the tip to dispose of it.

Off we went.

'But it's my billy cart, Dad. If you'd like to use it, you have to pull me up the hills.'

'Let's stack the longer bits first and then the small bits.'

Toot toot go the cars as we wobble down the footpath towards home.

A few days later we decided to take the billy cart on another adventure: to our newly opened local community op-shop. In no time at all we had completed our autumn clean-out and had filled five big bags of goodies to recycle.

The Daylesford Community Op-Shop is based on a Swedish thrift store model: to provide local community members with what they need including electrical items, so they don't have to shop outside of town or buy new items, and all profits are then put back into the community.

Local not-for-profit organisations can apply to receive the profits for a month. The month of May for example is for Hepburn Wildlife Shelter, which means that they promote that month as theirs. They can bring in their saved-up goods to be sold and their members volunteer at the op-shop.

Based on the size of our town the op-shop is forecast to inject $100,000 a year back into the community.

There's also a community space where mothers can nurse their babies, a book nook, a seed bank and a chai lounge. Pretty amazing, huh?

A brief stop at one of our community food gardens to turn over the compost, and then on we go.

Back home and our day was not quite done. Inside our chicken coop, our birds have been flying over the low fence and have been digging up one of our vegie patches. We have been setting up more substantial fencing over the last few weeks. And after our recent score we finally had enough timber to make some gates.

We harvested the last of the potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, dug the beds over, added compost and planted them out with heirloom vegies.

We planted broad beans, three varieties of carrots, kohlrabi, two varieties of beetroot, celeriac, leek and plenty of cabbage.

We are a bit obsessed with cabbage in our household. We love to eat it raw in salads but even more so, we love to lacto-ferment it into sauerkraut. Here is a jar of our latest batch.

And here is the final fruit of our labours: a stack of kindling wood ready for the winter.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Plus One

We've been busy with all kinds of things lately including the early designs of a food forest in Melbourne (deets to come..), but most significantly we thought we'd share the news that come springtime Artist As Family collective will have a brand new member.