The final election results for the three councillors from the City of Moreland’s South Ward are:
FARRELLY, Liam Shaun
While I didn’t win the election, I was pretty happy with the result. 1300-odd votes in only a 2-month campaign from a zero base and no political party brand or backing was very respectable in my view.
When you come to think about it, there is the equivalent of a small country town out there supporting me. Now all I have to do is find out which country town! (A colleague of mine suggested that it might be Mirboo North, population 1300!)
My wife Ping did a fantastic job of campaigning on my behalf and I saw her in a new light after 34 years of marriage, which is truly something.
Despite having to endure some dirty tricks by one odd ball in particular, running for Moreland Council was a worthwhile experience. Indeed, I’d like to write a George Plimton-style journal article from the point of view of a truly independent candidate (which is a badge of honour in my opinion), albeit an unsuccessful truly independent candidate.
I say “truly independent” because the Labor Party disingenuously refused to endorse its candidates, which then enabled them to claim to be “independent,” something that wasn’t really true — a clear case of having your cake and eating it too.
Sincere thanks to those Moreland residents and ratepayers who voted for me. Your votes profoundly influenced the outcome of the election. Let me explain.
The preference voting system basically works like this: the candidate with the lowest number of votes is “eliminated” and his/her votes are then distributed to the candidate he/she has nominated second on his/her how to vote card. Then this process is repeated again and again until, in the case of the South Ward, three candidates have gained the required number of votes to be elected.
It was always extremely likely that Labor’s Lambros Tapinos and the Greens’ Samantha Ratnam would be elected, which is exactly what happened. However, the third spot on council was up for grabs. I was eliminated from the contest following the Greens’ candidates Narelle Graefe and Liam Farrelly. Where my 1300 votes went ultimately determined who would be the South Ward’s third councillor.
I first proposed swapping preferences with independent Martin Forster. An obvious strategy for the two genuine independents in the race; a real “no brainer.” But he declined and put me number eight. Wrong decision Martin. If you had accepted my offer you would have been the third councillor from the South Ward.
It is a pity that at least one independent candidate was not elected in the South Ward. Now you know why this did not happen. Unfortunately there is no accounting for people who foolishly won’t listen.
I next proposed putting Labor’s Michael Carmody number two in return for putting me number four. (Labor Party rules meant that number four was the best I could get from any of the three Labor candidates running.) He also refused and put me number eight as well. Bad decision Michael. (In fact, one of your closest Labor colleagues described it as “very stupid.”) If you had accepted my offer you would have been the third councillor from the South Ward.
Finally, I proposed putting Labor’s Meghan Hopper number two in return for putting me number four. She accepted my offer and became the third councillor from the South Ward. Congratulations Meghan! Good decision. Something for both Martin and Michael to think about over the next four years until the 2016 council elections.
My thanks to Francesco Timpano and Charles Car, my two independent “running mates” in the North East and North West wards respectively; and many thanks to everyone who helped me hand out how to vote cards on election day, I really appreciated it.
Following are some of the things that I’ll be donating to the Political Ephemera Collection at the State Library of Victoria:
WARNING. We are now known and formally registered as “The Moreland Ratepayers Action Group.” Sadly, our former name, “The Moreland Residents and Ratepayers Action Group,” has been “stolen” by a candidate for the North East Ward (and perhaps others) who is now sending out bizarre and mischievous emails under that banner. We have nothing whatsoever to do with these grubby emails.
Welcome to local government politics in Moreland! Surely, obviously, it is time for a change!
Last year (2011) the students who did my Popular Architecture and Design course at the University of Melbourne examined kebab shops in Melbourne. This year they looked at another similarly “invisible” and seemingly banal building type — launderettes (the English term) or Laundromats (the American term) in Melbourne.
Kebab shops and launderettes represent “third places” (in contrast to first and second places — home and work respectively) as described by the American urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place. He argues that, despite being taken for granted, they are central to urban vitality.
Working in pairs, the architecture students were asked to document a launderette in Melbourne, which included the following basic information:
• The name and address of the launderette.
• A plan of the launderette, including fittings and furniture.
• A photograph of the front of the launderette during the day.
• A photograph of the front of the launderette at night.
• A photograph of the launderette showing it in relation to the other shops in the street.
• Photographs of the sides of the launderette (if they were accessible).
• Photographs of the interior of the launderette.
• Photographs of any advertising, signs, etc.
• A brief description of the launderette.
• Comments by the owner/manager and any customers.
Launderettes in Melbourne: An Architectural Survey contains the above information exactly as the students gave it to me — errors and all. To a large extent, the value of this work is being able to compare 37 different launderettes in Melbourne at a glance and seeing their similarities and differences.
Hopefully Launderettes In Melbourne, along with Kebab Shops in Melbourne before it, will encourage a greater appreciation and understanding of these “third places” locally.
This envelope is being mailed from one student to another in my Popular Architecture and Design class. Each person has to add something to the envelope before sending it onto the next. Following is a photographic record of the “layers” that it has acquired to date.
My latest book titled, Out of the Ordinary: Popular Art, Architecture and Design, is due to be published in September this year by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
The book’s blurb by Andrew Chrystall:
Out of the Ordinary is one part unembellished documentation and one part verbi-visual equivalent of a Pro Hart work made with nineteenth-century, paint-loaded canons. It is a cultural history, resource for contemporary designers, imaginarium and luminous almanac of an explorer of the stranger species of creativity — from brick art to letterboxes, junk mail, mail art, television, fashion, food, model trains, Disney’s imagineering, amusement parks, feng-shui, Postmodern architecture, human-scale craftsmanship, forgotten Australian architects in China, famous architects (that, perhaps, should be forgotten save for their bow ties), collectors of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia, outsider artists and clients — and none of these things exactly.
Everywhere Derham Groves attends to and finds significance in the minutiae of everyday life, inter-association, and those things that affect us so profoundly but remain just outside the purview of the “normal.” And in these things — objects, art, architecture, environment(s) — he finds stories and teaches his reader how to do the same. Out of the Ordinary is also a motivational text. It begins with bricks, perhaps the most standardized and repeatable units of construction, and reveals how they can be used as vehicles for unfettered creativity and not merely for the creation of containers. Groves shows how art and architecture can emerge and receive nourishment from the garbage of the everyday and creative collisions. Groves also calls, albeit subtly, for a turn away from homogeneity, the standardized, and unimaginative or “lazy” design informed by principles of economy, efficiency, utility and function conceived in abstraction. Rather, Groves celebrates the reanimation and/or rejuvenation of place by the makers of anything out of the ordinary (who don’t necessarily pray to the demiurge of good taste) who have created spaces and things through which the creative imagination shines.
Dr. Andrew Chrystall, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University.
A review of the book by Michael Jørgensen:
Derham Groves is a unique thinker and one might say that he himself is “Out of the Ordinary.” An extraordinary range of phenomena fascinates him, which he investigates with an unusual tenacity, skill and erudition. In each case these topics and issues — at first glance deceptively diverse and unrelated — is meticulously dissected, illustrated and described with clear, unpretentious and very readable prose, which puts much other so-called academic writing to shame. Consider just some of the things he covers, taken at random here from the contents page of his latest book, Out of the Ordinary: Deceptively “mundane” things such as bricks and brickwork; do-it-yourself letterboxes; and (who would even think of this?) junk e-mail or spam. Then there is television and its manifestations in the days of its introduction in Derham’s home country, Australia; Disneyland and the feng-shui of Hong Kong Disneyland; the shop-houses of Vietnam and elsewhere; Sherlock Holmes and other crime fiction, one of Derham’s longstanding interests; a little-known Australian architect and a better known one; and an eccentric naïve Australian painter, the late Pro Hart. But that is not all! Dr. Groves has written elsewhere of the 1939 tour of Australia by Anna May Wong, the celebrated Chinese-American actress, and since the publication of his book about her in 2011, he has become intrigued by another tour “Down Under” by an American, William Boyd, a.k.a. Hopalong Cassidy, in 1954. Derham has also become interested in the crime novels of a little-known Australian writer, the late June Wright, whose crime novels were published in the 1940s through to the 1960s. He has also traced the overseas travels in North America of a group of young Australian men in 1959 using an old diary written by one of them. Where did he obtain the diary? On eBay would you believe it, just one of Derham’s research tools and so like this most unusual person — architect, academic and cultural historian. I cannot recommend this book more highly. Derham Groves’ many-facetted interests and the manner in which he so skilfully draws you into them will fascinate you.
Michael Jørgensen, Architect, author and publisher.
A book review by Zoe Nikakis in the September 2012 edition of Voice:
In Out of the Ordinary: Popular Art, Architecture and Design, Derham Groves explores his academic and personal passions. Zoe Nikakis dives into his world.
Derham Groves investigates, “the popular, the ordinary and the odd”.
So writes Dr Groves’ frequent collaborator, the celebrated architect Corbett Lyon, in his introduction to the recently published Out of the Ordinary: Popular Art, Architecture and Design.
“His definition of ‘popular’ is broad and not restricted to the high pop art and architecture of the elite,” Mr Lyon writes, “but embracing and celebrating the popular culture of the masses – do-it-yourself renovators; collectors of kitsch; high street commercial architecture; and the signs and symbols of our suburbs.”
Dr Groves focuses on seemingly unconnected topics and types of Australian ephemera and art – from the use and importance of brickwork as an artistic medium and the place of letterboxes in pop culture – but his passion for the obscure and the overlooked ties these disparate oddities together.
His interest in letterboxes and the everyday as art began when he was completing his PhD in the US during the 1990s.
“My supervisor was a Disney and television scholar, and she spurred my interest in popular culture,” Dr Groves says.
“Australian handmade letterboxes are much more than merely containers for mail. Firstly, they are Australian icons, since perhaps nowhere else in the world do people express themselves through their letterboxes with quite as much fervour as we do in Australia.
“Secondly, letterboxes facilitate links with the outside world. Most people love to receive letters – at least those containing good news. The letterbox is also where neighbours often meet to chew the fat and discuss the weather. Thirdly, letterboxes are symbols of home.”
The book also focuses on Dr Groves’ projects with collaborators and his students, who have created artworks for exhibitions made from bricks.
“I’m also interested in bricks because in some ways, they’re the very bottom line of architecture: you can’t get more basic than a brick,” Dr Groves says.
“Australia produces high-quality bricks in a wide range of colours so there is no reason for boring brickwork in my opinion.
“Often the problem is that architects do not design brickwork, but allow it to happen of its own accord. However the interesting brick buildings that have been designed by Lyons Architecture and others in recent years indicate that things are changing for the better.”
Dr Groves often incorporates his students’ projects into his books.
“Students produce so much work that it gets lost, so it’s important to record it,” he says.
“In the past I have investigated the design of brickwork from several different points of view. I have taught several design courses for architecture students focused on how bricks can be used in innovative and interesting ways.
“Earlier this year, I also spent time in Trivandrum in India doing a brick workshop with a group of first year students looking at a specific style of brickwork, so it all ties together.”
Other essays focus on the ways in which Dr Groves incorporates this research into his teaching.
“It’s all about material culture, and the interactions between art, design, symbolism, and popular culture,” Dr Groves says.
“It’s about pop art as architecture – sometimes buildings are ugly, provocative, edgy – and how important it is never to let good taste get in the way of good design.”
Out of the Ordinary in Amazon’s top 10 “Hot New … Architectural Criticism” list!
In 2010 I visited Iran, courtesy of a travel grant from the Iran Heritage Foundation, to look at Iranian brickwork. What marvellous brickwork I discovered there! But that is another story.
Travelling around Iran (which I found to be quite different to that usually depicted on the six o’clock news, by the way), photographing some spectacular brick walls, naturally I stopped to eat from time to time, and as a result I found myself unexpectedly examining something else besides the country’s brickwork—Iran’s ubiquitous kebab shops.
The differences between say Melbourne, where I live, and Tehran, the capital of Iran, are in the main truly vast, but here was one tiny thing that both cities have in common.
This got me thinking after I returned home: if I found the kebab shops in Iran so interesting then perhaps I should look more closely at the kebab shops in Melbourne.
So I asked the Master of Architecture students who took my Popular Architecture and Design course in 2011 at the University of Melbourne, where I teach, to pair off; to each select a kebab shop in Melbourne; and to record the following basic information about them:
• The kebab shop’s name and address
• A plan of the kebab shop, including its fittings and furniture
• A photograph of the front façade of the kebab shop
• A photograph of the kebab shop next to the other shops in the street
• A photograph of the kebab shop at night
• A photograph of the other side and rear facades of the kebab shop (where they were accessible)
• Photographs of the interior of the kebab shop
• Photographs of the kebab shop’s advertising/signage
• A copy of the kebab shop’s menu
• A brief description of the kebab shop
• A brief interview with the shopkeeper and perhaps some customers
Kebab Shops in Melbourne: An Architectural Survey, a new book published by the Custom Book Centre at the University of Melbourne, contains all of this data exactly as collected by the architecture students and given to me.
The idea of compiling an eclectic-style, uncritical and unedited “encyclopaedia” like this was suggested by the 800-page TheHarvard Design School Guide to Shopping (2002) by the Dutch “starchitect” Rem Koolhaas et al.
Several people have looked at and written about everyday places that are usually taken for granted and not given a second thought. One of the most interesting is the late French author, Georges Perec (1936 – 1982), whose work I introduced to the Master of Architecture students-cum-“kebab shop detectives.” His little book, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (first translated into English in 2010), is a quirky masterpiece in my view.
Another source/sauce of inspiration was Reyner Banham’s brief but amusing and surprisingly insightful assessment of hamburgers and hamburger shops contained in his classic study of Los Angeles, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (1971).
In light of some of the recent scary exchanges between America and Iran, it is oddly comforting to realize that fast food is fast food no matter whether it comes from Los Angeles or Tehran.
I hope that Kebab Shops in Melbourne: An Architectural Survey will encourage further and more detailed research into the humble kebab shop, which is an interesting and ubiquitous—nevertheless almost “invisible”—part of the urban built environment not only in Australia and Iran, but also elsewhere (for example, on a recent trip to Auckland, New Zealand, I spotted many kebab shops there too).
To sum up then, Kebab Shops in Melbourne: An Architectural Survey describes over 40 kebab shops in various Melbourne suburbs by means of descriptive prose, line drawings, black and white photographs, and interviews with shopkeepers and customers. This data was collected by Master of Architecture students at the University of Melbourne and compiled, warts and all, by Derham Groves. This quirky 500-plus-page book is perhaps best described as The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping meets Georges Perec.
Reviewed by Andrew Chrystall, Massey University, New Zealand.
Anna May Wong’s Lucky Shoes interfaces a chronological biography (cum-histography) of the Chinese-American film star, Anna May Wong’s 107-day visit to Australia in 1939 with the documentation of 52 design-as-biography projects by students at the University of Melbourne. The effect(s) is uncanny. Groves demonstrates a different approach to writing biography that is as challenging to the historian as his approach to design-as-biography is to the designer and architect and his mode of pedagogy to the teacher. While operating just outside the realm of the readily classifiable, due in large measure to the work’s hybridity and Groves’ multidisciplinary transgressions, Anna May Wong’s Lucky Shoes makes a contribution not only to our understanding of the popular and material cultural history of pre-World War II Australia. Arguably, Groves can also be read here as having created something of an anti-manifesto for dialogic, sustainable design that is of immediate relevance.
At the level of surfaces, Anna May Wong’s Lucky Shoes appears simple and unpretentious, if not parochial and banal. However, when read in light of the interplay between the two sections—biography and the documentation of design-as-biography projects —it becomes apparent that the materials have been organised to give the work a circuit-like quality. Surface simplicity gives way to a subtle complexity. Groves’ biography nurses the reader into an encounter with the design-as-biography projects and the projects draw the reader back to rediscover the biography of Wong—text begets image(s) and the image(s) beget a re-energized and re-configured text.
The first section of Anna May Wong’s Lucky Shoes documents the movements of the now little-known Wong to, around and from Australia just prior to World War II. Groves briefly establishes his personal appreciation of the enigmatic, Lady Gaga-esque Wong in the first person. But he quickly abandons a point of view and his writing takes on some of the characteristics of American novelist, Thomas Pynchon. Like Pynchon, Groves has the meticulous eye of the sleuth or the roving tactile-eye of the virtual camera for detail. Anna May Wong’s Lucky Shoes if full of detailed lists: passenger lists, guest lists, menus, and filmography. Around the movements of Wong Groves builds an inventory of Australian material and popular culture just prior to the war. His camera eye, panning and zooming incessantly, is quick to focus on concrete, individual particulars of the material culture of the day: time, date, places, street names and numbers, transactions, costs, makes, models, colours, patterns and textures. In addition to offering insight into Australian architecture, entertainment, fashion, food and politics, Groves provides a lens through which to view of racism in Australia and the racial politics of film production, homophobia, the rising cult of celebrity, (beautiful-) freak aesthetics, and the milieu of Australia’s social aristocracy. In short, Groves’ inspection captures everything that is going on—by means of a close inspection of the most common, everyday and banal—not merely what some people think should be going on. In this respect Groves’ operation is something of a prose equivalent for what his fellow Australian artist Reg Mombassa achieves in paint. And it is for this reason that the long-dead Marshall McLuhan might have said that Groves succeeds where F. R. Leavis failed. “The trouble with Leavis,” noted McLuhan (1987), was that his “passion for important work forbids him to look for the sun in the egg-tarnished spoons of the daily table […] [this] cuts him off from the relevant pabulum” (166).
In the second section, Groves, with the help of photography by Lee McRae, documents and offers a brief reflection on 52 pairs of shoes designed by his students enrolled in the Popular Architecture and Design paper. Groves set his students the task of designing a pair of (lucky?) shoes for Wong by altering an old pair of shoes purchased from an opportunity shop. Groves’ reflections here, however, do not interfere with documentation of the shoes on display. Rather his mode, tradition or sensible orientation towards art and art history appears to have some affinity with the humanism of Burkhardt, carried on in the 20th century by figures such as Wölfflin, Giedion and Moholy-Nagy. While Groves might disown the connection to these figures it is worth mentioning here as it may open up a way of reading Groves and help illuminate why he has sought to showcase the work of these young Australian designers.
The crux of the matter is that Groves does not turn away from objects or art nor does he use either as a platform to illustrate or argue a set of ideas (in the mode, say, of the social-engineer who sets design the task of changing people). Rather, for Groves, it is art that matters and he extracts himself to make a space for “objects” and the “art” to speak for themselves on their own terms. Subsequently, and this may be another reason why Groves eludes convenient categorisation, if he has anything to say beyond showcasing a motivational and fun pedagogical activity it is said at the level of demonstration. Design, as Groves presents it, can be a deeply dialogic activity with and in service of unique human individuals (with a history and somewhat messy relationship to material artefacts that can be, simultaneously, practical, emotional, irrational, calculated, and ever-changing). His mode of demonstration that eschews linear, logical and hypothesis-drive rational argument is entirely consistent with his goal(s). If we allow, then, Groves to demonstrate what design is, can and should be we find design (inclusive of architecture) can be a form of biography. It emerges from story—rich and concrete encounters between peoples, places and material culture. Design maximizes diversity and, therefore, minimizes competition (which is predicated on a large degree of sameness). Design is also transmutative and realised in and through a dialogue with pre-existing materials that are as historically conditioned as the client. Subsequently, design, neither has to result in the creation of more stuff, which is what Andrew Milner argues needs to be avoided for the realisation of a sustainable future, nor has to set itself the task of promoting a bloodless, or perhaps glamour-less, austerity ill befitting an art deco diva.
McLuhan, Marshall. (1987), ‘Letter to Walter Ong and Clement J. McNaspy, December 23, 1944.’ in M. Molinaro, C. McLuhan, & W. Toye (eds.), The Letters of Marshall McLuhan. Toronto, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press,
Geelong was almost “gone” in the second quarter — three goals down and Podsiadly stretchered off — but the champion side that it is, the Cats fought back and overran Collingwood in the final quarter by six goals — SIX GOALS! — a blow out! But it stood to reason really: Collingwood lost only three games in 2011; Geelong beat Collingwood three times in 2011. And three premierships in five years — how good is that? “Fairdinkum unbelievable.” GO CATTERS!
Mum watching the Cats win the 2011 premiership at home. “Don’t look so worried Mum. We’ll win!”