Tuesday 2 August 2011

Permaculture and myself

An admirer comes to call
I was recently asked in what way do I see that Permaculture has effected my work. Permaculture is a design process resulting from the considered observation of a system, such as a home environment, and all of its interacting elements that need to support one another in a complex or diverse web to achieve a level of sustainability. It has 10 basic principles and three ethics to explain these desired inter-relationships. Earth care, people care, profit share being the ethics. Each element must have at least three functions being one of my most importantly held principles from the 10. No freeloaders, no selfish elements, everything must share and support at least two other elements. These can be things like the air, water, soil, plants, sun, people, animals, insects; every element in the system must be multi purpose so as to create a strong, roll with the punches syteme that is not fragile and devastated by one major effect such as wind, rain, heat, or unemployment, illness etc.

School garden project, San José de Gracia, Mexico, 1998
I spent my early 20's creating a wonderful oasis in my suburban backyard in Perth, after having done an introduction to permaculture in 1992. From there I eventually taught permaculture at Curtin University in the School of Art garden. We won environmental awards and I was involved in this program from the inception in 1994 and then later as a lecturer 1996-97. In between I travelled the globe, visiting permaculture projects in the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, NZ and Australia. I volunteered on several of these projects and shared knowledge and enthusiasm with the local people and learnt many things along the way from them. I then obtained my permaculture diploma in education and site development from these experiences.

Desert permaculture, San José de Gracia, Mexico

I have always wanted to live a self sufficient life. Its been hounding at me for more than twenty years. I've not achieved it so far although I've seen some close to it in my journeys and am building as ever my dream along with my beloved in our minds and hopefully one of these decades it may come into fruition. But for me permaculture is not just about growing your own vegetables and fruits, chickens, and not shopping at the supermarket. It's more about being aware of the greater results of your choices. Of perhaps not creating your own electricity for whatever reason, but of choosing a responsible form of electricity for example. Or of buying clothing but thinking of where they come from, of what proceedures went into making those fiberes and the dyeing process and the factory and the people who made them. Of their quality of life after we have bought our cheap clothing, but so expensive in others lives but not on our pocket. For myself, permaculture started me on my path of trying to consider as much as possible the factors involved in my everyday choices. And gee there are so many, every day.

With my work, my aim is to in the near future create clothing with organic merino wool and organic silk. I want to be responsible for choosing materials that I know the history of, am involved in supporting small but so important industries that are responsibly producing these fibres. This is my direction that I am craving to arrive at. There is obviously a larger cost to the pocket in this choice, but to feel honest to myself and my ethics, it is what I need to do. I am thrilled to have found a supplier of certified organic peace silk where the silk is grown in small villages in India in a project to support the local farmers and where they are paid a correct salary for their work. Where the land, people and silk worms(!) are living a sustainable relationship that is not polluting or poisoning in any of the processes involved in the manufacturing of the silk fabric. I have also found a supplier for certified organic merino wool, again where chemicals are no part in any of the stages of production of the wool, and where mulesing is not practised on the sheep. So here's to the future!


  1. I just found your blog and I think your work is simply gorgeous. I have been teaching myself felting for the last 4 years or so and your pieces really inspire me.

  2. Thankyou Vickie for your comment. i also pretty much taught myself these techniques after a basic introduction to felting. i think that is the only way to really get to understand your medium. learning from others can certainly be useful, but eventually its only through nutting it out yourself that you truely understand and develope new techniques for yourself. i look farward to seeing your work sometime!