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Hotel Hotel Friday 5:45 AM

The Grand Stair

The grand stair leads up to Hotel Hotel ground floor and the Monster kitchen and bar…

She’s a pretty thing. She has won a number of awards including ‘World Interior of the Year’ (in 2015 at the World Festival of Interiors in Singapore) and the ‘National Award for Interior Architecture’ (in 2014 from the Australian Institute of Architects).

The stair was designed in collaboration between (our parents) Molonglo Group, March Studio and Oculus; and built by artisan carpenters, CBD Contracting, and carpenter Steve from Deep in the Woods over five months.

We had a chat to Rodney Eggleston from March Studio about the process of making the stair which consists of stair treads and a huge overhanging installation… The gist of the process is as follows – let the location inform the materials and then let the materials inform the design. In Nishi’s case, the creative catalyst was the splendour of the construction site itself: chaotic but precise. March also prescribes to the philosophy of “letting the material be the material” by using them in their natural state.

This process, inspiration and philosophy led to the sourcing of reclaimed timber collected from a house; a basketball court; from the Nishi construction site itself; and from off cuts of Nishi’s own lovely Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) timber façade.

The ceiling feature consists of 2150 pieces of said reclaimed wood and “then shiteloads more in the stair”, and 1200 steel rods that hold the wood in place. Because of the different wood widths and sizes, no two steel rods are the same, and each one was individually designed with holes of different widths, and at different distances to each other. The intricate and precise nature of the detailing is mental. Their kindred maker spirits, CBD, patiently cut and drilled the wood and steel according to the never-ending master plan and slowly shaped the stair over five months. Steve from Deep in the Woods cut and assembled the jenga style stair treads.

The Grand Stair shot by Tom Roe

The Grand Stair shot by Tom Roe

The Grand Stair shot by Tom Roe

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Same Same Different

When we asked Italian architect Gianmatteo Romegialli to tell us the history of his friendship with (Italian born and now) Canberra based architect Enrico Taglietti he wrote us a letter.

It’s an introduction to the pair, their mutual passion for, though at times disparate approaches to, architecture. It’s also a reminder that, on all matters, not only architecture, when we start from a place of friendship and love, disagreements help us grow.

On Sunday 15 January Gianmatteo and Enrico will be talking about freedom and constraints, architectural history, heritage and inheritance, breaking orthodoxies, structure, landscape, context and culture, and the beauty and poetry of the built space… And they are letting us listen in.

Same Same Different‘, Sunday 15 January at 3PM at the Monster’s Salon and Dining rooms at Hotel Hotel.


Dear Dan,

Like you requested I will try in my “very bad english” to tell you the long story of my friendship with Enrico…

I am an architect, I grew up in a family of architects (father, mother, sister, wife).

During my years at Milan Politecnico, in the 80’s, I was attracted to the architectural magazines that had always circulated at home…. In those years there began to appear some of Glenn Murcutt’s first projects. At this time I did not know anything of Australia but I was attracted by countries with large open spaces and great wilderness. So when I saw for the first time Murcutt’s projects I was absolutely fascinated. Those small and delicate houses that confronted such a wonderful nature were for me an absolute novelty. From that time began my desire to go and visit the Australian continent at my first chance. I was lucky!

In 1988 I received my degree from the Politecnico in Milano and I started to collaborate with Sergio Crotti my thesis professor. As often happens in such circumstances, I was working late at night some years later, with other young colleagues in Crotti’s studio for an architectural competition and talking with them I expressed my strong desire to visit Australia and its contemporary architecture.

The colleague and friend sitting next to me, Massimo Tadi, told me:

“Gianmatteo, if you want to visit Australia I’ll be happy to go with you. It has been many years that I have the desire to visit my dear uncle Enrico who lives in Canberra. He is an architect and he has made and is making projects for some of the most interesting Australian buildings…”

This seemed to me a great fortune and coincidence, and so we organized our first Australian trip for August 1995.

Our desire was to meet Massimo’s uncle, Enrico, and his family, and organize an interview hopefully to be published in an Italian architectural magazines. Last but not least we wanted to make a long trip through Australia in search of interesting architecture.

When we arrived in Canberra Enrico won our hearts with his architectural ideas, building projects, his kindness and unique personality.

Enrico with his knowledge and contacts indicated Australian architects who we should try to meet during our trip. So we set off by car to discover Australia and its architecture…

It was a wonderful and unforgettable trip of three months. We travelled through Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Mount Isa, Cairns, and Sydney, all by car…

This trip was my first contact with Australian architecture… We saw wonderful projects by Harry Seidler, Colin Madigan, Robin Boyd and so on… When we arrived in Darwin we were lucky to be able to visit the Troppo Architects studio. And the Bowali Visitor Centre in Kakadu National Park designed by Troppo and Glenn Murcutt…

When we returned to Canberra Enrico had prepared for us a real big gift. He had phoned Glenn Murcutt saying that there were two young Italian architects in Australia that dreamed of interviewing him, and he accepted.

So that was that, thanks to Enrico, we were to meet Glenn.

It was a memorable meeting in a pub in Sydney, where for more than an hour Murcutt told us of his projects, of his ideas about architecture, whilst drawing on the pub napkins …

My friendship with Enrico began with this “1995 unforgettable trip”.

A couple of years later, in 1997, Enrico invited Massimo and I to join him in working on the competition for the Kingston Foreshore. I spent two months in Canberra working on the project and competition draft.

During our long and animated discussions on the competition project and the city of Canberra I started to understand Enrico’s interest and deep passion for his city that he loved and called the “non-city”.

From this first collaboration a deep friendship was born that continues today.

From then on began a constant exchange of point of views on architecture, our work, our current projects. From that time, Enrico has made me deeply know the protagonists of Australian architecture, made me passionate about the problems and the beauty of Canberra.

Over the years during my many trips to Canberra, I have visited almost all the buildings designed by Enrico and this has contributed to change and advance my idea of architecture.

With Enrico I worked in recent years also on a project to expand his beautiful villa in Sydney and, in 2013, I helped draw up a document-project-complaint of Canberra and its urban vision for the future entitled ‘Cassandra’ in defence of the uniqueness and identity of this beautiful city.

We also took many wonderful trips together. In Europe we visited key-works of the modern movement, especially the works of Le Corbusier who we had both studied at the Politecnico (him in the 50’s and me in the 80’s).

In 2013, Enrico invited me to visit Chandigarh in India, always on the trail of Corbu the master…

During more than twenty years of friendship with Enrico we faced tireless discussions on the work we do and we love.

Enrico told me of his passion for the void… of his youth spent in the infinite spaces of the Ethiopian highlands…. about his time at Politecnico and arriving in Australia in 1955, where he was kidnapped by the beauty of the landscape, the light, the silence and space of this land.

I think Enrico was very brave, looking for a place where you can cut with the past, “sever ties” with the Academy, with the operational orthodoxy that form architects in universities. And in Australia he found that.

We have often discussed the different moments in which we studied at the Politecnico 1950 and 1980, and then about our obvious different approach to the project.

Enrico in Australia seems to me very lucky, he can today continue his “leap of faith” that the modern movement considered necessary to change the architecture and people’s lives. Enrico’s projects are made in relation to the tectonic nature and ancient (almost prehistoric) Australian landscape. But they are also free from the constraints of history and seek only the beauty and poetry of the built space.

His projects break the boundaries of architectural space by tilting windows and abolishing the composition of the façade; drawing only a fence that is confronted with the landscape and a roof. The facades are shadows…

For him there is no border between the interior and exterior of a space, home and interior design are one and the same…

Conversely my academic training at the Politecnico in the 80’s formed me under the influence of the writings of Aldo Rossi and Vittorio Gregotti – a contemporary vision of architecture in search of a closer relationship with the shape of the city and its history, architecture design through the archetypes …Constantly referring to places and their history and culture.

Over the years I’ve learned and discovered with Enrico that probably there is no single answer to the problem and the exchange of opinions and passionate ideas can help you get a better view of possible paths to take.

As it probably is necessary in design to both “jump into the void” and “dig” at the same time in our history.

How different it is to be an Australian architect in Australia and to be an Italian architect working in my land Italy.

These discussions with Enrico about architecture (and life) are one of the most beautiful things that have happened to me in life and I want to continue to fight and argue with him.

Thank you Enrico.


Gianmatteo Romegialli.



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“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”
― Sidonie Gabrielle Colette in 'La Vagabonde', 1910.

Image of one bedder apartment number 716 shot by Scottie Cameron.


Future Perfect: Judy Natale

This article originally appeared on Assemble Papers. Here. Thanks AP for letting us steal your stories sometimes.

Words and images by Judy Natal.

From geothermal tourist sites in Iceland to the so-called failed experiment of Biosphere 2, the world in Chicago-based photographer Judy Natal’s ‘Future Perfect’ series explores the ever-changing landscapes of Earth and our relationships to them, as humans entangled in a global ecological framework. Here, she describes how she created her vision of the future from fragments of a very real present.

‘Future Perfect’ is an exercise in travelling backwards in time from the future. I wanted to show that the future could be bleak, but as you move through the photos, which start in 2040 and end up in 2010, I wanted people to understand that the Earth we have now is actually very beautiful and alive, and to preserve that we need to be better custodians of the land.

Moving through the decades backwards in time, the colour palette changes from very austere and monochromatic in 2040 as you move back towards 2010, when it starts warming up and the emotional tenor lifts – all of a sudden people are smiling. At the end, the photos are downright romantic.

The three sites you see in ‘Future Perfect’ are very disparate and their selection was very organic. It all started during the construction of the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas: I had been looking at the history of Las Vegas through its neon signage and I wanted to start looking at the Las Vegas of the future. At that time, Las Vegas was calling itself ‘The City of the Future’, which terrified me, but I was also very intrigued.

A few years later, a friend of mine was getting married in Tucson, Arizona, and as a wedding party we visited the Biosphere 2. I knew about the Biosphere 2 project – when I was younger I even wanted to be a ‘Biospherian’ – but in person it was even more impressive than I had imagined. It’s a Bucky Fuller-inspired, gleaming, glass iceberg in this pristine desert canyon and the first time I saw it I knew it was my next logical step from Las Vegas. I wrote to Biosphere 2 and asked if I could do a residency and, eventually, after more than six months, they agreed. In my mind, Biosphere 2 is a man-made wonder of the world. Towards the end of its run it got terrible press – it really had an awful reputation as a failed experiment. But to me, even a failed experiment is valuable because you can learn from it.

These landscapes alone I felt risked being dehumanising, which is why I pursued the portrait element of ‘Future Perfect’ – because people are so remarkable. The steam portraits, taken in Iceland, are these poetic snippets of humanity. There are real moments of uncertainty and fragility in these portraits.

Really, though, ‘Future Perfect’ is about no place. I’m interested in subverting the way we look at photographs; I want to displace the viewer, because it’s only when we’re displaced or uncomfortable that we’re forced to reach out and ask ourselves the meaning of things. Place for me is a canvas – a springboard to create these metaphoric acts of interpretations of the landscape and of the world as we know it.

I think some of the most powerful works of art are the ones that really want to enact change and shake the rafters, and I think you can do that without being dogmatic. I’m not wagging my finger at anyone in my work because I’m implicated along with everyone else – I drive a car, I fly in planes, I buy food wrapped in plastic – but I think my role as a photographer is to ask questions.

The project I’m working on now is about the weather. Recently I was speaking to a publisher about another work of mine, Another Storm is Coming (2016), which commemorates the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Flippantly, they said to me, ‘This is a local issue,’ and I had to respectfully disagree. These so-called ‘natural’ disasters are not local issues – they’re global issues. And the sooner we can think about them that way, the better our choices will be as we write the future now.”

Thanks to Judy Natal for generously sharing her ‘Future Perfect’ photo series with us. For more photographs and information on what Judy is up to, visit her website here.

‘Future Perfect: 2040, Sun in Fog’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2040, Self Portrait Orb’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2040, Through the Window’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2030, Geothermal Waterfall’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2030, Kid’s Drawing of the Earth Hurtling Through Space’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2020, Fake Tree Trunk’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2010, Steam Portrait Couple Touching Hands’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

‘Future Perfect: 2010, Ocean Viewing’ by Judy Natal, 2008 to 2012.

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The Dingle House in ACT designed by Enrico Taglietti in 1965. Shot by Michael Wee.

Iconic Australian Houses

Iconic Australian Houses’ is an exhibition curated by Karen McCartney and presented in partnership with Architecture Foundation Australia. It comes to Canberra via the Sydney Living Museums. The exhibition looks at 30 of the most important Australian homes designed over the past 60 years. Exhibiting until Monday 13 March at the National Archives of Australia, Canberra.

Karen will be giving a tour of the exhibition on Thursday 8th December.

Words by Karen McCartney. Images by Michael Wee.

A full decade has passed since I began research for my first book – ’50/60/70 Iconic Australian Houses’. My research began in my own family home, the Marshall House in New South Wales designed by Bruce Rickard in 1967; and eventually took me all across Australia on a hunt for places worthy of the status the title imposed. Unsurprisingly (to those in the know) I found many of my icons in Canberra.

Everything was to be photographed for the book, we didn’t want to use historical photographs, and the interiors needed to support the architectural intent of the building. I was also keen to reflect the very best in Australian residential architecture and include those that mattered, the ones that broke new ground in terms of how they thought about life, family and community.

I knew that I had to visit every house, to know that it was right and to meet the architect and the owners where possible.

I had done my research on Canberra and could see what potential it offered. Mostly I gleaned my information through the website Canberra House – mid-century architecture and art, (an absolute gem of a website). From my screen I explored the geometry of the Jelinek House, I found that Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds and Harry Seidler had worked in Canberra extensively (although one of my rules was one house per architect), and I admired the pared back strength of Dirk Bolt’s vision.

With a project like this you often (Blanche DuBois style) depend on the kindness of strangers… Particularly on those with a passion for the same thing as you. In this instance it was Tim Reeve, co-author (alongside Alan Roberts) of the very informative title ‘100 Canberra Houses’.

Among the many things Tim did for me, he arranged for me to meet with Italian born, Canberra based architect Enrico Taglietti. Taglietti took us on a road tour of his most celebrated buildings in, Tim reminds me now, a tiny Daewoo Matiz. We belted about the city as Taglietti gesticulated out the window at the Australian War Memorial Depository and the Giralang Primary School.

We ended up in one of Taglietti’s houses – the Dingle House, in Hughes – where we met the owners and Taglietti explained the ideas behind the house and the clever and thoughtful detailing and aesthetics that defined it.

One of the great things about doing a project like this is hearing the stories of others and Taglietti’s is one that I particularly love. He spoke of his life in Italy where he studied architecture under key figures including Bruno Zevi and Pier Luigi Nervi. Of how he attended a summer school with Le Corbusier and, while working at the Milan Triennale, he met Alvar Aalto, Oscar Neimeyer, and Buckminster Fuller. What is remarkable is that coming from Italy, in 1955, he appreciated Canberra for its lack of history and its sense of a clean slate for architectural endeavour.

“There is a concept I’d always been attached to: the principle that to be a modern architect, one has to severe oneself totally from the past and ask questions as though nothing existed before, Canberra was the ideal place’, Taglietti said.

This exhibition is full of such stories, because nothing extraordinary comes easily, and it points to different times when materials were scarce and homes were modest. I feel proud to have gathered these stories from all across Australia, as different styles developed for different geographies, climates and eras. To that end the exhibition is themed, rather than taking a chronological approach as the books do, and draws threads across materials, design treatments and concepts, through time. But most of all it is the people I have met and the understanding I have gained of landscape, architecture, innovation and ways of living that gives me the greatest sense of achievement.

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Everyday instances

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View All: Recipes

Some Canberra tennis clubs

Whooot! Summer! We're so glad you're finally here. If we could kiss you on the mouth we would. But we can't. So, to try and bribe you into not doing that thing you do sometimes in November where you come say hi for a few days and then hit the road for three weeks, we put together an offering of photos that Lee Grant took inside some of Canberra's tennis clubs to celebrate. With all our love. Don't be a stranger.

Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant
The players at Turner tennis club shot by Lee Grant
O'Connor tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant
O'Connor tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Turner tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Reid tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Reid tennis club shot by Lee Grant
Queanbeyan tennis club shot by Lee Grant

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#hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel

Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.
― Oscar Wilde.

Image by U-P.


Amy's Fred Ward chair.

Object Therapy is a research and remaking project that we carried out with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Australian National University (ANU) and 26 designers and makers from Australia and abroad. It aims to build a new body of knowledge around repair, the design process, and objects and their meaning.

Words by Guy Keulemans, Andy Marks and Niklavs Rubenis.

The rationale for Object Therapy begins with simple observations: professional repair services are in decline, consumerism is rampant, and we are generating more and more waste. Do-It-Yourself repair is growing in popularity, evidenced by the growth of many excellent online communities and information portals, but this doesn’t cater to everyone.

Appropriately, there is a therapeutic quality in many such contributions. It is seen in Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans’ adaptive reuse of a cheap and broken, but incredibly precious knitting needle; in Corr Blimey’s sensitive transformation of a mother’s vintage kimono into a cushion for the daughter; in Elbowrkshp’s thoughtful deconstruction of a father’s Gladstone bag into three separate bags for each of his daughters; and in Scott Mitchell’s conversion of a beloved, obsolete television into a transmitter of televisual memories. Rohan’s ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ action figure – similar to one he owned as a kid – has been dressed in 6 detailed and intricate garments and accessories by paper engineer Benja Harney. Although only purchased from an op-shop for one dollar, this repair brings its cost into the thousands. This is not exceptional among our repairers, and we would like to acknowledge and deeply thank them for placing many hours of time and significant amounts of energy and resources into their repairs. This extraordinary investment is all the more remarkable considering the repairers make no claim to ownership for their work: the works will be returned to their original owners at the end of the exhibition. This incredible generosity fits well with the spirit of repair as a process that restores life to objects.

We are consistently burdened by the untimely obsolescence of our possessions, and troubled by both our incapacity to discard them (to where?) and our inability to repair them (by whom?). Object Therapy is an attempt to answer these parenthetical questions and to highlight consumer perceptions of waste, repair and obsolescence. The project is an attempt to address some of the trouble caused by broken objects by connecting their owners with professional artists and designers. The skilled contributors we have assembled, the ‘repairers’, don’t necessarily have great familiarity with repair either. Some do. But they are all in command of considerable visual, material and technical expertise. Object Therapy intends to uncover, collate and assess the many and varied possibilities for creativity within the practice of repair. It was imagined that the generative aspects of damage, in which the conditions of wear, use and breakage can be unique, would lead to a broad range of creative responses and perhaps innovative repair typologies or techniques. As such, the brief was open. Repairers were provided with a video of an interview with their object’s owner and asked to respond in any manner they chose. We can identify these responses as having three main categories: transformative repair – a restoration of function with a change in form or appearance, adaptive reuse – a reconfiguration of material into a new purpose or function, and critical objects – that challenge the assumptions and conventions underlying the design, use or understanding of products. These categories are not a precise fit for all contribution and some outcomes merge or transcend them.

Transformation: the repairers and their repairs

Before we overview the work presented in this exhibition, firstly we should acknowledge that repair and reuse have historical roots within cultures across the world. The traditional Japanese craft of kintsugi – the repair of ceramics with urushi glue and gold dust – is an important precedent for Object Therapy. Its overarching concept, the aesthetic transformation of an object through a process of repair, neatly predicts the likely outcomes of merging visual arts and repair practice. We are lucky to include the work of master lacquer ware craftsman Yutaka Ohtaki in the exhibition whose repair of Lindy’s Western-style plate is unusual for traditional kintsugi. But as with the kintsugi repair of Korean and Chinese ceramics in the past, during the Edo period (1603–1868), it re- 5 territorialises the plate. Originally made in Europe, it now feels Japanese. Other contributors have worked in this theme.

Naomi Taplin uses modern adhesives to sensitively repair a much-loved, ‘everyday’ bowl decorated with a fish. The golden seams diagram the force that broke it, subduing and ameliorating it. Conversely, Kyoko Hashimoto’s repair of Skye’s glass ring with a sterling silver sleeve recalls the time before the advent of modern adhesives, in which ceramics, in Chinese and Western traditions were repaired with metal staples. Traditional techniques deployed in the service of unconventional mending is evident in Elise Cakebread’s kilt repair, Liam Mugavin’s rocking horse, and Guy Keulemans’ use of photoluminescent pigments to craft a prosthetic leg for a broken glass giraffe.

Embarking on a different journey, Halie Rubenis’ playful decoration of chipped crockery with plastic spheres, fashioned from the expanded polystyrene box in which they were delivered to her, might not be fully functional, but the results are clearly transformational and revitalise everyday objects that are routinely discarded. Halie’s approach embodies that often referenced Australian ‘make do’ attitude of repairing with materials at hand. We see this in Andrea Bandoni’s repair of a clothesbasket with bright blue hose interweaved through the wicker. As a Brazilian, she cites ‘gambiarra’ culture, her country’s own version of the ‘make do’ concept.

Henry Wilson’s transformed bee smoker, a traditional tool used to calm bees prior to extracting honey from their hive, also leverages the ‘make do’ concept, but in the form of a critical object. After disassembling the leather joinery of the bellows, Henry was struck by the difficulty of finding replacement materials in inner city Sydney, an area similar to those in many Australian cities that have seen a decline in local manufacturing. Henry’s choice to replace the bellows with a computer fan – sourced from a computer supply store in the CBD – is a provocative hack that responds to the hurdles placed in the way of Australian makers and repairers, particularly when attempting to source local materials. It is the nature of critical commentary to find and dig out problematic roots. We might have expected Rohan Nicol to restore Kristie’s Kenwood mixer to function, given it’s sentimental history and potential for continued use. But, as Rohan notes, the mixer had lost its function sometime ago, yet hung around in disrepair. Rohan sees it as an abstract marker for the family’s inability to let go of their possessions. His transformation, a burial in cement, creates an ‘archaeological witness’ to the potential for grief in consumerism. In his repair of Chris’s inherited broken statuette clock, Rohan takes a similar path by binding the broken parts in cloth suggestive of ancient artefacts. He comments that the memory surrounding the object outweighs the object itself, enabling a moment in time to let the physical object go. The sentimental values within Rachel’s father’s bagpipes, harken to a Scottish homeland, and are unexpectedly reconfigured by Dylan Martorell. His hybrid instrument uncovers the traces and links between divergent global music cultures.

We thought we might test the boundaries of authorship in transformative repair by giving a broken vase, made by notable glass artists Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot, to another notable glass artist, Richard Whiteley. As former studio mates, though, this potential authorship issue was simply resolved by a phone call. More significantly, Richard’s repair, a clean slice that cuts away and discards broken edges and exposes a sublime interior void, has an unexpected therapeutic dimension. The vase was originally a wedding gift from a dear friend, since died. The cutting away of fracture is a material intervention into the complex emotional relations embedded by such provenance. It is an approach shared by Dale Hardiman’s knife repair. The knife’s broken edge, associated by the owner with divorce and death, was removed and its blade shortened. Its handle was replaced with a new one made from local clay, and the fragility of this material acts as a reminder to take care of our possessions, and perhaps human relationships as well.

Object Therapy has been full of surprises none more so than Peter who submitted himself as an object for transformative repair. Unable to envision what this might mean for research or exhibition, but unable to decline its possibilities, we passed his submission to Amsterdam-based conceptual designers Thought Collider. Their response firstly makes clear it is inappropriate to apply repair to a person as one would to an object, but nonetheless proposes a transformative experience through the form of collaborative research. ‘Peter the Person’, as he came to be known, has embraced their proposal to research colonisation of the moon in the public space of the exhibition. We hope his extra-planetary research might return attention to the grave problems of the earth and it’s human habitation.

Social and environmental problems were predicted to emerge from the Object Therapy process. Susannah Bourke’s critical object captures one of broad significance: the responsibility of companies towards the products they make. For her Mistral fan, this was an historical, life-taking lapse in electrical safety standards, but deeper and more nuanced problems of product design persist in affecting our contemporary world. We hoped to include more industry in our process, but Kenwood (now owned by Delonghi) and Nintendo didn’t respond to our invitations. Numark, a maker of DJ equipment, seemed initially interested, but soon went dark. We can only speculate as to the disinterest of industry, but note that there is an emerging and global community push for better corporate stewardship of consumer products. Such policy would require companies to take responsibility for retrieving, repairing or recycling their products from the post consumer landscape, but it is generally not the companies themselves behind these proposals. In absence of Numark’s participation, a DJ mixer got pulled from the Object Therapy process, but we can at least acknowledge the second hand electronics market (thanks Ebay) for helping us fix that owner’s other object, a retro Nintendo Gamecube. This fix, however, may be short lived, as those coloured RCA cable inputs connecting Gamecube to screen are disappearing from new televisions.

Problems of durability and obsolescence, the lack of lifecycle design and materials that harm the environment, are explored in many Object Therapy works. Trent Jansen’s transformation of an old washing basket trolley into clothes pegs is neatly conceptual, yet also interrogates changing material culture. Traditionally pegs were made from wood, but are now often made from petrochemical polymer plastics. The ‘new’ steel pegs made from the trolley’s frame look and feel like artefacts of a lost material culture. A light coating of rust is forming on their surface. Even if plain steel might be unsuitable for clothes pegs, they raise the question: in the rush to make everything faster, lighter and cheaper, do we lose or gain by switching to plastics from endlessly recyclable, but energy intensive, materials like steel?

Such questions are at the forefront for UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology. They have developed patents for feeding worn car tyres into steel production and they specialise in extracting energy from polymer composites. In their contribution to Object Therapy, they brutally pulverised an unwanted stone giraffe for the purpose of material analysis, and followed this by turning its debris into a reconstructed polymer building product. This clarifies that varied techniques, both passionate and dispassionate, are required to tackle our tremendous contemporary problems of waste and consumerism.

The transformational capacity of material is also a concern for Niklavs Rubenis in his reconfiguration of 1950s furniture designed by Australia’s iconic Fred Ward. A deconstructed cabinet glides through a chair frame, forming a bench seat. Such adaptive reuse is not just transformative expression, but also transient expression, in that it opens up to the potential for further future transformation. This is also seen in Monique van Nieuwland’s reconfigured spinning jenny, now a wall-mounted clothes and hat rack; and Alison Jackson’s renewal of a child’s ruler, broken in play, into a set of playable dominoes. Subhadra’s submission, an expensive educational puzzle missing several parts, was a conundrum. It was impossible for her students to complete the task, but difficult to discard due to its cost. Daniel Emma’s transformation creates an entirely new game via a recontextualising face-lift.

Not all attempted repairs were successful. Richard’s theodolite, an instrument used for surveying, was prohibitively costly to repair. But it’s past use in mapping indigenous archaeological sites suggested an alternative approach. It has been given a political voice by Franchesca Cubillo in a text that calls for Indigenous sovereignty and respect for the wisdom of ancient cultures.

The sums: where to from here?

Object Therapy indicates the value and potential of repair as a practice by creative professionals. It highlights the positive concern that people have for finding solutions to product obsolescence and waste. We hope it may re-orientate attitudes towards production, consumption and disposal. This project draws attention to work yet to be done: Object Therapy is neither a comprehensive mapping of the possibilities of transformative repair nor a finished project. It is simply a starting point. Object Therapy points to the social and political agency required to transform the conventions of production and consumption, but, more importantly, we hope it points to a revitalisation of creative practice, skills and modes of thinking that will enable us to deal with the problems of the material here and now.

View the full catalogue here.

Objects were repaired by Andrea Bandoni, Corr Blimey (Louisa de Smet and Steven Wright), Susannah Bourke, Elise Cakebread, Franchesca Cubillo, Elbowrkshp (Elliat Rich and James B. Young), Daniel Emma, Dale Hardiman, Benja Harney, Kyoko Hashimoto, Alison Jackson, Trent Jansen, Guy Keulemans, Dylan Martorell, Scott Mitchell, Liam Mugavin, Rohan Nicol, Monique van Nieuwland, Yutaka Ohtaki, Halie Rubenis, Niklavs Rubenis, SMaRT@UNSW, Naomi Taplin, Thought Collider (Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret), Henry Wilson, and Richard Whiteley.

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Lee’s Landscapes

A collection of photos by Lee Grant taken on bush walks in and around Canberra.

At Gordon Smith's place shot by Lee Grant
Wee Jasper landscape shot by Lee Grant
Wee Jasper landscape shot by Lee Grant
Namadgi landscape shot by Lee Grant
Namadgi landscape shot by Lee Grant
Namadgi landscape shot by Lee Grant
Murrumbateman landscape shot by Lee Grant
Lake George landscape shot by Lee Grant
Jeir landscape shot by Lee Grant

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