Shades of Tanizaki

In the rooms of this grand house in the Clare Valley — deeply shaded and closed against the hot, dry summer of a South Australian Christmas — I was reminded of Junichiro Tanizaki’s book on traditional Japanese architecture and aesthetics: In Praise of Shadows; how lacquerware glowed so beautifully in those twilight interiors. Somehow, what we can’t see but know, suspect, intuit or guess is there, has a profound power over the senses.

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Stillness

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While light space is eliminated by the materiality of objects, darkness is ‘filled’, it touches the individual directly, envelopes him, penetrates him, and even passes through him: hence ‘the ego is permeable for darkness while it is not so for light’; the feeling of mystery that one experiences at night would not come from anything else.
Jacky Bowring, A Field Guide to Melancholy

The river in winter is a poetic transmitter. Particularly at nightfall — as a liminal place of melancholic beauty and stillness as much as a time of transition. Bowring talks about sites of spirited sadness that have the ability to slow things down, defamiliarise, allow for percolation, and facilitate ‘solitude and solice for imagination.’

Photography, GS, Snowy River at Dalgety, New South Wales

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Subterranean garden

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Under a hill in Mittagong (the rim of an ancient volcano) there is a 600 metre long mushroom farm; a dark, subterranean garden in an old, single line railway tunnel, full of strange shapes and beautiful textures. It reminded me of Susan Sontag’s brilliant essay on grottoes: A Place for Fantasy.

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Li Sun Exotic Mushrooms, Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia.
Susan Sontag, A Place for Fantasy; Where the Stress Falls, 2001.

Grasslands revisited

SPP_Maffra_3859Maffra, New South Wales, 6:30am

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Grasslands

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Maffra, New South Wales

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One more case for less is more

SPP_MilkBeach_0325Australia Day 2015 in Sydney. Low cloud and an all-day drizzle softened the colours and also toned down the red-white-and-blue flag-wagging nationalism that usually happens on the harbour at this time. As the clouds rolled over the houses on the opposite shore and the city buildings and the fibreglass hulls and the bridge and opera house you could almost imagine another January day on Milk Beach in similar weather, a few hundred years ago.

Poppies

SPP_Cafe_De-France-(54-of-58)Julia Charles’ beautiful, unpretentious photo compositions for our Café de France stationery.
Photography: Julia Charles. Plating up: Heidi Dokulil and myself for Good Habitat. Also starring: my wonderful French pocket knife, the Compagnon from Le Thiers.

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Please visit Good Habitat

SPP_L1030050Good Habitat is a newly named working unit founded by Heidi Dokulil, Beatrice Chew and myself. It continues and extends our habitat-related interests and activities of the last few years and —now we have thought through and completed a body of work—is a more clearly articulated expression of what we do, particularly for projects that are current and upcoming. We create, facilitate and broadcast projects around the idea of good habitat through publishing, talks, exhibitions, workshops, community projects and education.

Please visit our Good Habitat holding page to read more. You can also register to be notified when the site is up.

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