Actually, I was not a little perplexed. I was deeply troubled.

Why me, I wondered.

Then I thought. Well it’s obvious. It’s because of my house. We live in Lower Howrah, known also as Howrah Flats,  in a 1950s Jennings’  green timber- built weatherboard which the wondrous Canadian poet/philosopher Leonard Cohen has, believe it or not, written and sung of ...

In his poem/song Anthem, there are these lines:

There is a crack,

A crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

Accepting this great honour - Lay Juror - I then wondered what I had to do.

So, I asked a former Lay Juror, whom I chanced upon whilst sipping an unsubtle Coonawarra Shiraz outside this very venue.

Garry, I said, to Garry Bailey, Editor of the Mercury, as he swept by one late afternoon on his way to very important business. Lovely to see you. I’m Lay Juror this year in the AIA Tasmanian Chapter Awards. 

What do I do?


Not now Linz, he said, sweeping on.

My anxiety returned.

I know, I thought. I’ll write to another former Lay Juror. My acquaintance, the elegant patrician Leo Schofield.

His advice was to the point.

Linz, he said:

Fuck the Archi-speak. Go with your gut.

That should have settled me. It didn’t. As you can see, I have very little gut.

And so it came that after much homework endlessly scanning online this year’s 31 project entrants I find myself seated with my eminent fellow judges,  Chairman Elvio Brianese, Jonathan Pyefinch,  Geoff Clark,  Nigel Bertram for the presentations day.  And then a visit to 14 finalists ... from South Arm to south Launceston.


It is quite simply, for an ageing dilettante, an ignorant Renaissance Man, a marvellous experience.

I am dazzled by the beauty of the soul at its creative best as the most exquisite designs, expressions of desire, idiosyncratic reflections on the human condition, of human beings’  place in the world, are presented.

We are drawn to beauty. It entices, it enthralls us, it unleashes our imagination, it sets our souls free. There is nothing that makes its way more directly to the soul than beauty, said the 17 century English essayist, poet and dramatist Joseph Addison.

Such creativity and observations of beauty triggered in me a desperate desire to quote the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins which I did at some length to my fellow judges, captive in the the car on the journey up the Midlands Highway. Now I’m going to inflict it on you, captive audience.

But first a little about Gerard Manley, which some of you may have heard before: Sorry.  This 19th century scholar, later Catholic priest, depressive and poet   used two terms to describe his unique creativity:  “Inscape” and “Instress.”  ... Words I reckon that you Creatives-of-the-Designed-and-Built Form will recognise. By “Inscape” he meant the unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiate it from other things, and by “Instress” he meant either the force of being which holds the inscape together or the impulse from the inscape which carries it whole into the mind of the beholder.

He once tried to explain what he meant by describing a dead tree: “There is one notable dead tree ... the inscape markedly holding its most simple and beautiful oneness up from the ground through a graceful swerve below the spring of the branches up to the tops of the timber.”

The Wing House -  which looks for all the world like a bird of prey about to take flight and which grips its talons into the steep slopes of Table Cape on the North-West Coast - triggered the opening stanza of The Windhover:

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

And, needless to say, two entries set in starkly beautiful contexts which, if were possible, enhance the natural world - the Arm End House at South Arm and the Bruny house brought a rush of God’s Grandeur:


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Tired but wonderfully sated by beauty and creativity   my fellow judges and I complete our presentations day; two weeks later our statewide tour, return to Hobart and meet later to dine on jugged hare and exquisite pinot, wondrous cab sav, beyond words shiraz, lust-laden Calvados:

Which of course triggered the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam:



A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—-and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

But it is next day that I begin to understand the true meaning of the term Lay Juror. It is I realize, as I lie,  in a severe state of extreme discombobulation,  what you do after a night out with architects.

You lie down…

But we are not doing that tonight ... we are rising to saulute the wondrous creativity all around us.

I salute you.


 

 

LINDSAY TUFFIN, Speech for the launch of the public exhibition - now at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hunter St, Hobart - of entries in this year’s awards for best architecture

WHEN Mr Fred Ward rang me one sultry summer’s day in January and asked if I would consider being the Lay Juror in this year’s Australian Institute of Architects - Tasmanian Chapter - annual awards I was a   little perplexed.