Twelve hours of hit-and-run hor­ti­cul­ture

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - KYLIE MILLER

IT’S a typ­i­cal Mel­bourne day when the pro­duc­tion team from Guer­rilla Gardeners de­scends — four sea­sons by lunchtime when heavy clouds start threat­en­ing.

But there’s a buzz of ex­cite­ment on a tiny pocket of land in St Kilda. The team— four pro­fes­sional gardeners, pub­lic artist Mickey Quick and co­me­dian Dave Law­son — has a job to do in lim­ited time.

Yel­low vests on and a doc­u­men­tary crew catch­ing ev­ery move, the team labours away clear­ing de­bris then cre­at­ing a gar­den. Picket fences are built, paths laid out, ar­ti­fi­cial flow­ers planted and pots set in place.

The premise of Guer­rilla Gardeners is to find ugly pock­ets of ur­ban land to trans­form— hope­fully in a way that keeps view­ers en­ter­tained.

In most cases the land is owned by gov­ern­ment agen­cies such as Vic Roads, though ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Nick Mur­ray says they don’t usu­ally bother to find out.

‘‘We go out there and find hideous sites like this; nor­mally they have been dobbed in by a lo­cal,’’ Mur­ray, whose cred­its in­clude Ten’s hit se­ries Bondi Res­cue, says.

Each trans­for­ma­tion is done without per­mis­sion or plan­ning ap­proval. ‘‘The the­ory is that if you are wear­ing a yel­low vest you can do any­thing you want,’’ Mur­ray says, so time is of the essence.

Passers-by may no­tice them work­ing, but film­ing is as dis­creet as pos­si­ble us­ing time-lapse tech­nol­ogy and small doc­u­men­tary cam­eras.

‘‘The whole idea is that at the end of the day there will be an el­e­ment to make peo­ple smile,’’ Mur­ray says.

‘‘Hope­fully we get it done and get away be­fore any­one no­tices what we are do­ing here, but we do have a bud­get for fines.’’

Guer­rilla gar­den­ing has grown in pop­u­lar­ity over the past 10 years, with a strong move­ment in Lon­don. Closer to home, artist Wendy White­ley fa­mously re­claimed derelict land near her home in Syd­ney’s Laven­der Bay to cre­ate a ‘‘magic gar­den’’.

‘‘It’s not about green­ing, it’s not preachy, it’s not about car­bon off­set­ting, it’s just about mak­ing the world look bet­ter so that when peo­ple go past it makes them smile, rather than looking at a hor­ri­ble eye­sore,’’ Mur­ray says.

‘‘If the own­ers were looking af­ter th­ese ar­eas or forc­ing the de­vel­op­ers to clean them up, we wouldn’t have any­thing to do.’’

Green tres­passers:

the Guer­rilla Gardeners


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