Tom Lee is director of the masters of design at the University of Technology, Sydney. His explorations of aesthetics in Australia are shared on Instagram @theaustralianugliness and on his blog of the same name. Tom’s first novel, Coach Fitz, was published by Giramondo in 2018.
All essays by Tom Lee
by Rachel Cusk
Allen & Unwin
Published May 2021
A Brief History of Outdoor Knowledge Work
It might strike today’s readers as curious that for a period in the twenty-first century some people could work on their computers in any location they happened to choose, using a global computer network called ‘the internet’.
I cannot help but consider—from my privileged vantage in a picnic hut overlooking Bronte beach—that the modern office is an artefact from a time when work needed to be conducted in a different manner and atmosphere, and that now, unlocked from the brightly-lit, uncomfortable, stifling, energy-intensive, disease spreading, anxiety-inducing structures in which work commonly took place over the last century, we ought to start thinking very differently about what a place of work might be.
by Vanessa Berry
Published October, 2017
Eccentric Guides: Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney
Mirror Sydney appeals to the notion that people live inside worlds of their own making. This suggests both a certain comprehensiveness or completeness and a limitation: the globe is known in form but so are its borders. However, this is also a world post-globalisation: the great exhibitions of the colonial project have become abandoned variety stores and theme parks, the pathos of which comes from quaintness or the strange, instead of authority or splendour.
Lost Landscapes of Waterloo
I arrived in Waterloo in mid-2015 when ‘apartmentia’ was already in full swing. From my base on the ground floor of a new apartment complex I have watched industrial facades disappear behind scaffolding for a few months to reappear as industrially-inspired, luxury living. Workers cottages and red brick bungalows are now a vestigial presence among multi-storey apartment blocks with bright feature walls and laser-cut cladding.
All essays featuring Tom Lee
by Tom Lee
Published August, 2018
Running Man: Coach Fitz by Tom Lee
Lee is by turns satirist and survivor of the New Victorianism. On a jog through Woollahra’s Trumper Park, Tom dreams conventional dreams of a house in the bush, a place for he and a loving partner to raise ‘a number of virile and sensitive children’ with landscape needs of their own. The middle-class dream is out of reach for now, but his religious devotion to physical fitness is the means by which he dreams it. He doesn’t just display the idea that ritual exercise on an organic diet is morally good, he believes it is spiritually good. Wellness, as we now call it—or sell it—is a condition devoutly to be wished, the hard-earned product of what Coach refers to as ‘lifestyle ambitions of a more enduring nature.’