Like peculiar migratory birds–ones that go backwards–Alex, Luka and I found ourselves at FoAM again this winter for the celebration of surviving 2015 and six years of being a little family.
Although it may seem strange to some that we would want to leave the glorious Sydney sunshine at this time of year, there are many ways that this trip was part of a broader resilience strategy. At home, we are regulated by our jobs, Luka’s school life, our extended families and the never ending list of chores involved in the construction and maintenance of our house (working title = Machine Green), a studio and residency space that Sydney so desperately needs. Leaving our houseplants and goldfish in the care of Mark Gerada and his family, (sometimes an artist residency is about escaping to the city), a mezzanine half built, and the construction of our bed in the hands of expert designer/maker Mickie Quick, we exhaled, fluffed up our feathers and dealt a game of Uno.
Our first residency in Brussels, in 2009, was at a challenging time. I first met the foam community feeling distracted by the weight of two unfinished PhDs between us, a three week old baby, and a strange assemblage of stuff selected in a state of sleep deprivation as we packed up our apartment in Linz. Surely this happens to everyone at various points in their lives (?), but I felt as though I didn’t know how to live. The Foamies, as they do so frequently and so elegantly, led by example. With wide support networks, beautifully designed spaces and a focus on nourishment, they grow relationships and projects from the bottom-up, through informal exchanges, experimentation and a commitment to making things better.
The wonderful world of Foam, including the library, the libarynth, and a program of events serendipitously scheduled for The Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators, helped me focus my thinking about design, art, and activism around the two topics of permaculture and futuring. Both were on my radar as worthy of future investigation and the foam residency made them very real. I was thinking about edges as we arrived back to Australia for the next stage of the adventure, and have been ever since. These topics have become the focus of my research and teaching as a design academic.
All this leads me to ‘Frontyard’ for its grand opening in March 2016.
We have colonised a little house in Marrickville with a big garden, and we are dreaming up alternative ways to be artists. As Nick and Maja suggest in their recent essay "Thriving in Uncertainty", we are imagining a space where the work is divided into three parts: running our little non-profit organisaiton; making connections; and following individual creative pursuits… for me, this is gardening and writing. There is an extraordinary group of people here in Sydney ready to experiment. And, of course, we have exceptional mentors one the other side of the world.