Kate Cullity 'Firestick' Design

October 12, 2017

"Firestick creates a shared understanding of science and culture which speaks to many people." Oliver Costello, Bundjalong country Northern NSW.

Kate Cullity applies a cultural and scientific lens to her investigation of the Australian landscape. From the detailed cellular structure of the iconic Eucalypt to the complex spiritual and cultural meaning of 'fire' in indigenous lore, her designs tap into a potent cultural and ecological sense of space and place.

Kate Cullity BSc Botany DipEd University of WA PhD RMIT Associate Professor University of Adelaide AILA

 

As a keynote speaker at the upcoming Australian Landscape Conference in Melbourne (March 2018) Kate Cullity of Taylor Lethlean Cullity (T.L.C) promises to bring a rich mix of mature intellectual and creative insight to the theme Design With Nature - Reconnecting People + Place.

 

Like all landscape architects that emerge as leaders within this profession Cullity sports a cross-disciplinary range of skills. She combines a landscape architecture degree with a biological science background in botany with studies in the visual arts and education.

 

She brings a finely tuned intelligence and sensibility to the aesthetic and sensual qualities of the Australian landscape... the sculpture of its forms, the light of the seasons, the sounds of water, colors of earth and plants, rhythmic and organic patterns and the "scent of plants and where it takes" her. What emerges is a complex abstraction that takes landscape design into the realm contemporary art.

The Australian Garden Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Victoria

 

Cullity is a founding partner of the award-winning practice T.C.L best known for its work on the Royal Botanic Australian Garden Cranbourne Victoria and the National Arboretum in Canberra, a firm distinguished by its long-term 'investigation of the Australian landscape, its poetic and cultural meaning'.

 

In recent years Cullity has been active on the international stage. 

 

Appointed to the task of interpreting and representing Australian culture and identity at the International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France for the Conservatoire International des Parcs and Jardins et du Paysage (2004) she exhibited the T.C.L installation "Fire Stories". It is an abstract examination of how the chaotic and destructive elemental force of fire orders and replenishes the Australian landscape. The design is composed of a number of interrelated elements, each expressing different stories in relation to fire.

 

"Fire Stories" Festival of Gardens at Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France 2004

 

In 2006 she exhibited at the Metis International Garden Festival, Canada. The striking corten steel sculptures entitled Eucalyptus – Light and Shadow 2005 and Eucalyptus - Lost 2006 explore (in collaboration with Ryan Sims) the cellular structure of the Eucalypt and its unique, paradoxical and mysterious qualities.

 

'Eucalyptus – Light and Shadow 2005 and Eucalyptus - Lost 2006' Metis International Garden Festival, Canada 2006.

 

Cullity recently presented the Australian 'Garden Cabinet' designed by T.C.L at the 2017 International Garden Exhibition IGA in Berlin as a model of Australian cultural and environmental qualities.

'Cultivated by Fire" Garden Cabinet International Garden Exhibition IGA in Berlin 2017

 

Entitled "Cultivated by Fire" the concept is described by T.C.L as an installation that "abstracts and distils the practice of “Fire Stick Farming” to create a mosaic garden composed of elements reminiscent of both the burnt and rejuvenated Australian landscape. These include actual fire, charred poles, Eucalypt seedlings, floriferous garden beds of Australian native plants and a startling red walkable ground plane."

'Cultivated by Fire" Garden Cabinet International Garden Exhibition IGA in Berlin 2017 (detail)

 

It is a symbol of both the destruction and rejuvenation of landscape. Its also a symbol of cultural heritage, a powerful landscape management tool used for thousands of years by indigenous cultivators.

 

It speaks to the confidence and maturity of a firm immersed in the deep interpretation of culture and place led by a landscape architect who has the creative flair of a mature artist in full flight.

 

Early work undertaken by Cullity and Taylor on Uluru in central Australia in the early 1990s not only broadened the scope of the practice but led them into master planning and the design of sites that required sensitive interpretation such as museums and national parks. It instilled the ability to listen to the Aboriginal elders as they told their stories of the site and connected them to the culture, language, social structures, life experiences and sacredness of the landscape, an experience that has undoubtedly contributed to their ongoing success and ensured their ongoing sensitivity to the Australian landscape.

Uluru Kata - TJUTA National Park NT 1990s

 

Together with her founding partner and late husband Kevin Taylor, who brought social planning and a strong ethical and poetic sensibility to the practice and later, with the Melbourne urban design specialist Perry Lethlean, they formed a powerfully creative collaboration that has underpinned the success of T.C L.

The National Arboretum Canberra ACT Australia

 

According to writer and poet Mark Tredinnick, the recipient of the 2016 artist-in-residence award established in memory of Kevin Taylor, T.C.L is “a timbered choir”; T.C.L is a garden. I grew in the forest of the company I kept there—the fine, skilled, creative and passionate people whose work is place-making, who tend the relationship between the human world and the green world around us. Among them I remembered how to thrive."

The Australian Garden Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Victoria

 

See Australian Landscape Conference Brochure in EVENTS

 

Words: JOMO

Images: Courtesy of T.C.L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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