Friday, 12 January 2018

Artist as extended family: our year with Jeremy Yau

As you might already know, Jeremy lived with us for the past year, learning and teaching, loving and sharing. This was his house, which we built with him and dubbed The Yause. And this is his story while living at Tree Elbow, told through our eyes and a shared catalogue of pics.


Jeremy arrived in early 2017 and immediately got involved in our everyday processes of living with baskets of skills and knowledges and very little money. He came for a week as a SWAP, and he stayed a year.


From different corners of the world, Connor and Marta had also just recently arrived at Tree Elbow, where they fell in love and (later) got hitched. With all three on deck we had a very productive time.


Food is big at Tree Elbow. It is life, liberty, health, ecology and energy. Jeremy soon understood how serious we take food and energy resources; how these often taken for granted things equate exactly to how each of us touch the earth.


Growing, preserving, fermenting, storing and cooking food became part of Jeremy's day to day. But this was not entirely new to him. Before coming to Tree Elbow he'd been an intern at Milkwood Farm, completed a horticulture certificate and a PDC, he'd volunteered as a community gardener, WWOOFed at various places and established a mini food forest at his parent's house in Sydney.


With so many staying at Tree Elbow, we needed more accommodation. Patrick offered to give Jeremy an informal building apprenticeship like he had with James and Zeph the year before.


The building had to go up fast, but we'd already saved materials from the local skip bins and tip.


Materials were also gifted and found online. Jeremy learnt most of the processes of building right through to putting ends and pops in the reclaimed spouting.


With the colder weather approaching, we needed to get the Yause, as Meg auspiciously named it, completed.


And we also had to get the glasshouse started.


It was a busy time, and a time of great learnings and hard yakka.


And while we were harvesting food, filling the cellar, building the Yause and the glasshouse, we also had to gather firewood for the winter from forests on the edge of town that are prone to fuel-reduction burns,


and waste wood material from a nearby mill for the humanure system.


We were all fairly exhausted by the end of Autumn, and the winter promised gentler labours. Jeremy used his horticulture skills to graft medlar scions onto hawthorn in the nearby commons.


He started carving things, such as this spoon, which he ate most of his meals with.


He learned new skills and passed them on. Woody was an eager student.


Jeremy made this small biochar furnace following our design and material salvaged trips to the tip. It works a treat!


Being an accomplished welder Jeremy made up these lugs for our back bike wheels at the local Men's Shed so we can hitch our trailers to them.


He made this little low-tech rocket stove, modelled on designs from David Holmgren's forthcoming book.


Jeremy starred in the trailer for that forthcoming book. The trailer was produced by Patrick and Anthony Petrucci.


Jeremy also starred in his own video showing the forge he made with scrap material from the tip, while at Tree Elbow. Anthony made the video for him in exchange for bike services Jeremy did on Ant's family's bikes. Participating in the extensive gift economy that exists locally was a revelation for Jeremy, and one he took to wholeheartedly.


One of the many things Woody and Jeremy liked to do was make a 'road train' (with the lugs) and head up to the skatepark for some wheelie good times.


Jeremy also taught Woody how to ride a flaming scooter. Hell yeah!


Jeremy also retrofitted old parts from the tip to make a new bike seat for Woody on the back of Meg's bike.


Over the year we became increasingly impressed with his technical skills.


Making all manners of things with materials that were either wild harvested or came from the tip. Most of these items he gave to people as gifts.


He made a coat rack for the Yause.


As it got colder he learnt from us how to knit with homemade needles made from hawthorn. This little scarf didn't come off him between the months of June and September.


He made a more significant rocket stove at the men's shed.


He learned to tan hides and make other useful things,


assisting at workshops with his friend Josh from the Bush Tannery.


Earlier in the year he attended Claire Dunn's natural fire-making workshop with Zeph and Connor,


and with these two and Patrick walked for three days along the Goldfields track

sleeping rough and eating bush foods along the way.


Jeremy became a regular in the community, often seen flashing around on his bike through the town's streets.



and regularly attending the monthly working bees at the community garden.


By the last month of the year he'd turned out just as every bit odd as everyone else around here. An anthropologist friend calls Daylesford the town of black sheep. Yay for black sheep!


We did a lot of celebrating life this year, and we loved Jeremy's spirit, joining in and relishing the looseness.


We finished the year with strut.


We're going to miss you Jeremy Yau, and all the fun things we did together.

We're going to miss you in a really big way.


Thank you for what you brought to Tree Elbow, Jeremy, and for what you brought to our community. You are always welcome here. With much love,

Artist as Family

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You can follow his adventures on Instagram or Facebook. Head to https://www.instagram.com/jeremygardening/

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  2. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for looking after him so well. I am lucky to have him home for a few weeks before he heads off again.
    Jeremy’s Mum

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    Replies
    1. We just saw this Jill. It was such a great year we had with ya boy. We hear Jeremy is coming back this way this year. If you plan a visit to Daylesford there's always a bed for you here.

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  3. Nice post. It is really interesting. Thanks for sharing the post!
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  4. I have been passing on this video to all that are willing to look. Wonderful. Thank You.









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