J9 Lilypads: Stepping Stone Dreaming
Day #2 I awaken and emerge from the guest caravan, blinking in the golden desert sunshine, to discover I had landed last night, oblivious, into wonderland.
Our host was J9 Stanton (pronounced Jay-nine) one of Alice Spring's most beloved artists. Her works pop up in unexpected places, reminding us that our future is playful, clever, and a place where every creature and feature can be looked after.
I can't pick a highlight of this dreamworld. Ask me to, and I'll get dizzy, dashing from her luxury compost toilet, to her chicken palace, to her water-tank swimming pool.
When I think of what I most want to imitate, its easy: Her family of concrete lily pads.
This mob of concrete disks will be stepping stones that carry you over mud, or get interspersed in the green of your vegetables, protecting the fluffy soil from getting its life squashed out.
You can roll them around to change their position. You can leave them to your friends in your will when you are gone. They'll always be beautiful and useful. You don't have to load your car with expensive objects, just a bag of concrete mix, and a roll of that green plastic garden bed edging you get at Bunnings.
To construct J9 cuts the edging in half lengthways, and rivets it together to create a smooth edge, to undo when set. She puts the lot on chipboard, and pours the wet cement in, like cake mix.
The inspiration in her garden and life could be the model for a whole new country. Here is a gallery. I won't caption each one, but take time to gaze, looking for the beauty creation principles that are at work, and without trying it will become part of you and the things you create from now. 'Make families of objects' 'Cherish the history of good things' 'Use a grid to support curves' and 'let different objects listen to and echo one another, yet remain themselves'
Like me, J9 is a host for wonderful working travellers, who help her turn her lovely visions into reality. Its easy to say 'why should I bother' when it comes to creating beauty and safety. Its easy to just turn on a screen, and things look good. Then like a mirage, they are gone, and there we are in the stale world created years ago. A world where getting our water is precarious, where we have no choice but to eat commercial food, and like children, the rubbish we make becomes somebody else's problem to clean up.
Make space for beautiful people, and provide the stepping stones to have them enter your life.
Join WWOOF, HelpEx. Gaze at beauty till it becomes part of who you are. Salvage materials, and turn up in the garden. You might one day get the company of a frizzle chicken called Kevin, and then the extra magic happens, but that's the next level of wonderful.
Thank you J9 for letting us visit your world.