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Do Planners Dream of Electric Trees?

Timmah Ball

Presented in Season 1 2022

Publication – SOLD OUT
Presented by Arts House as part of Makeshift Publics Critical Response Series

Mail out from 3 Feb, 2022

This work discusses the impacts of colonisation.

Audio description

At the intersection of urban planning and Indigenous speculative thinking, this thought-provoking publication asks you to rethink the meanings and histories of Arts House and its environs.

In the time between invasion and the late 1980s, North Melbourne and Kensington were dominated by cattle markets and abattoirs; the colonial architecture and federation colour palette of Arts House and the North Melbourne Town Hall are now accorded heritage protection. Why is this legacy defended while others aren’t? Why can’t the law privilege the sovereignty of the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nations instead?

Do Planners Dream of Electric Trees? is an evocative text that imagines space for sovereign futures within the confines of statutory plans and legislation.

In this free publication, Timmah Ball draws on her urban planning background, zinemaking and speculative writing practice to reorient our thinking about Arts House and its place as a structure with overlapping meanings and histories.


About the Artist

Timmah Ball is a nonfiction writer, researcher and creative practitioner of Ballardong Noongar heritage. Her work is often informed by studying urban planning and offers a critique of conventional city-making systems. In 2018 she co-curated Wild Tongue for the Next Wave festival, with Azja Kulpinska, which interrogated labour inequality in the arts industry.

In 2016 she won the Westerly Magazine Patricia Hackett Prize, and her writing has appeared in a range of anthologies and literary journals. More recently she has created audio work for ACCA and Liquid Architecture which contemplates the past, present and future of both physical and online spaces in the COVID era.

Artist Statement

You can’t strip the paint or reconstruct the colonial architecture of Arts House. But physical constraints cannot limit the possibilities of our imagination, finding new ways to be and grow in cities and urban areas. Trees grow in unlikely places - beyond planning strategies, urban design theory, legislation, tech revolutions, environmental activism, and art. They speak to each other through complex root structures beneath city streets. When we draw lines across professional borders, and find ways to re-invent or interpret how we frame and create planning schemes and amendments, new messages emerge and the possibility of something different grows.

Image credit: Timmah Ball

Image description: Looking directly up from the ground to a canopy of trees in darkness silhouetted against the night sky.

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