Thursday, April 12, 2012

Career Mapping

Maps dominated my fifteen year career as a commercial and regulatory lawyer in the energy and infrastructure sectors. I met my future husband while advising on land title and transmission line easement issues for a proposed power station.  These days we only visit the region to go wine tasting but I can still map out the route and rattle off the names of the affected landowners.

A year long secondment to The Cabinet Office of New South Wales to advise on the rail restructuring involved hours of poring over network diagrams with tracks, turnouts and sidings in far flung places. It was fascinating to visit the rail property headquarters to see original maps in large velum books with copperplate script.  You could breathe colonial Australia in that place.  Did you know that the interstate network was only converted to a standard gauge after World War II. and that signigicant variations in rail gauge still exist across Australia? Crazy but true. I don't drink tea or coffee but this mug with a Sydney rail network diagram circa 1995 is a favourite souvenir of my lawyering days.
Another big project I worked on was the corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I was closely involved with the transfer of the transmission line assets from the Authority to another government agency.  In a rare, out-of-the-office excursion, I actually spent a day in a helicopter flying along the 60 foot wide easements, landing at various power stations.  These pages will not mean much to you but just looking at them transports me to another time.

When a US client bid for broadcasting transmission towers around Australia, I become acquainted with various country high points with evocative names such as Mt Misery, Mt Warning, Mt Disappointment and Mt Buggery.  My knowledge of Australian geography was further expanded when the same client purchased hundreds of mobile telephone towers around the country. I would go to sleep listing the sites (and their legal issues) in my head like my own professional version of the classic Australian song I've Been Everywhere Man.*

With this rich resource of legal-geographical memories, I have many ideas for this challenge.  However, my quilt ended up going on a quite different tangent in a couple of days of studio time over Easter.  I'm looking forward to 1 May to show you.

* Lisa Walton made Everywhere inspired by this song and this work features in the Beneath the Southern Sky exhibition that I curated.


Helen Conway said...

I only did land law in practice for six months during my training contract but I have vivid memories of the Foxes Meadow transaction. We had several purchases and sales on a new housing estate which had been built on several different packages of land. Some of the packages were unregistered ( old system) some were resgistered and different procedures applied to each. I did the worlds best map of all these boundaries with colour coding for all the different boundaries and estate lines as well as the outlines of the properties we were to buy. Took me ages. I presented it to my boss who said, " Um. I'm colourblind."