Dynamic Lifting by Kylie and Nat

[Isaac modelling the Big Fag Press print by Nat Thomas and Kylie Wilkinson]

[Isaac modelling the Big Fag Press print by Nat Thomas and Kylie Wilkinson]

Dynamic Lifting was a project developed by Nat Thomas and Kylie Wilkinson during a Marrickville Council Artist Residency in January 2010. During the project, Big Fag Press worked with Nat and Kylie to develop a print which embodied their processes of interaction with members of the local community – they gathered dozens of handwritten gardening tips, and incorporated them into this wonderful 2 colour design. The print was given away as a thank you to those who helped out on their project. We also produced a limited edition, signed and numbered by the artists, on gorgeous acid free paper.

Here’s some more info about the whole project, sent through from Nat and Kylie:

The starting point for this research was a desire to see how people are creating ways to grow their own food in the urban centres of Sydney (around Marrickville) and to visit gardens where people are attempting to grow food collectively.

The context for this work is the growing awareness of the unsustainable and unethical commercial food industry practices around issues to do with transport, use of fertilizers and waste.

There is a growing interest for people to regain some level of control over how they live and what they eat, and also to combat the rising costs of buying fresh food.

We enjoyed talking about how to grow food. Old knowledge, such as the ways people who grew up on farms learnt from their parents in the 1930s – 50s (in Australia and various countries across Europe and Asia) right through to the more contemporary approaches, informed by ideas such as permaculture principles to food production. Also the inventive rig-ups and schemes developed to make growing food possible despite very limited space.

At the beginning of January, we organised an article in several local newspapers to encourage people to contact us to show us their gardens.

We also contacted several gardening collectives operating in the area and discussed how they approach planting, space and access, core philosophies around gardening practices and who gets to eat the produce.

For much of the time, we also walked the streets and knocked on people’s doors, peeked over fences and held impromptu interviews with people whose gardens showed some sign of effort towards producing food.

We visited permaculture educators and architectural and legal innovators engaging with their own communities to inspire change and encourage action on a grass roots level.

We developed several works during this time, and held a closing event to display the work and host the people we had met during the project, on January 26th (Australia Day) at the residency apartment of the Petersham Town Hall. This event was attended by about fifty local people, was extremely upbeat and provided an opportunity for people to meet folks with different backgrounds who were also interested in urban food production.


A limited edition poster was printed on the famous Sydney BIG FAG proof press in collaboration with the Big Fag Collective. The poster is a compilation of many of the fantastic gardening tips collected during the meetings with gardeners.

Printed on a very large scale, the poster also shows an image of an urban block from the rear. A fig tree bursts through a fence and behind the tree in a back lane sits an empty and abandoned shopping trolley and old tank like car.

Posters were given to people the artists met and worked with during the residency. A pile was also delivered to Council to be distributed to local schools through its environment and sustainability programs.

A large pre-loved Australian Flag, purchased at Reverse Garbage was collaged into a banner. Images to do with compost, growth and renewal combined with the confusion of advertising. The banner was a sort of call to arms or perhaps an invitation to reconsider place in terms of basic issues to do with survival and food production.

We also produced a slideshow of 180 images of the many gardens and people that they met with during this time. This series of images also documents the process of looking and walking around Marrickville, a place initially unknown to the artists. It also documents the success and limitations of groups trying to grow food collectively, how large lawns and the tiny flourishing front yards exist in tandem. The slideshow is not so much a survey of perfect permaculture gardens but a series of snapshots representing many different levels of engagement with the dirt close to home and the potential of growing things to eat. The slideshow also documents the poster printing process and sewing the banner.

During January Nat and Kylie witnessed the many dance events that take place in the Petersham Town Hall. Daily the space is used for different groups in the community to meet and dance. Nat and Kylie developed a short video that documents several couples moving through the space sometimes with elegance and at other times with less ease trying to negotiate dancing partners or the complexity of traditional dance routines. A meditation on mortality and fragility.

Eloise Lindeback