Many of our 2020 schools participating in The Archibull Prize chose to investigate agriculture in their own back yards by looking at historical and current methods of farming and researching new ways to a sustainable and regenerative future. This is what they found:
Innisfail State College in northern Queensland created Guyji (the traditional Mamu word for “determined to do a certain thing”) to illustrate the story of their rivers of home – the South and North Johnston Rivers.
Year 9 art and agriculture students engaged with their region and explored issues that will determine their future, as they followed each river down either side of their Archie. The rivers of the Innisfail catchment wind through rainforest and banana plantations, dairy cows and tropical fruits, and show not only negative practices such as excessive fertiliser use and illegal dumping but regenerative agriculture and increasing biodiversity – two paths, one future .
“At the back end of the cow the two river systems meet and this is where our school is located in Innisfail. The river is depicted flowing out to the Great Barrier Reef with all that it captures from within the Cassowary Coast catchment. The Great Barrier Reef represents both the positive (with its survival) symbolised with the presence of turtles and the opposite side being depicted bleached and lifeless.”
Chevalier College in the NSW Southern Highlands also explored regenerative agriculture on their Archie named Sustaina-BULL, which was a particularly relevant topic considering much of their local area had been impacted by the bushfires of the 2019/2020 summer.
Sustaina-BULL has a map of major centres in Southern Highlands, a black side (representing Black Angus cows) showing the effects of climate change including bushfire and drought, a green side (representing Holstein Freisan cows) showing sustainable farming practices and healthy eco-systems and an udder covered with fake news headlines to address misconceptions about agriculture. It also has interactive QR codes leading to a video produced by the students.
The artwork is a combination of abstract painting, collage and 3D elements such as burnt sticks in the fire, paper pulp to give dimension to the hills of the highlands landscape and felting textural animals.
“The father and son on the rear end demonstrate the future of farming, with the interpretation being the father leading the son towards a sustainable future of farming providing food, clothing, and resources for the future population of Australia and the world.”
At St Catherine’s Catholic College in Singleton there is an Archie with a tree poking out of it. This is Regen-a-bull – the environmentally friendly Archie from the Year 7 agriculture students.
Healthy soils form the basis of Regen-a-bull and support the tree, made from the branch of a storm-damaged tree on the school grounds. Circles are used extensively to represent the cyclical nature of regenerative agriculture. There is also a wooden magpie (in tribute to the school’s resident dive-bombing menace), ryegrass seeds and a cow pat!
“We have used materials that were sourced locally or on our own school farm. We have tried to minimise impact on environment, including minimising waste, to create our Archie. Regen-A-Bull” is a timely symbol of the importance of looking after the soil if we are to mitigate climate change, improve resilience to drought, and produce healthy food for our population.”
Penrith Valley School in western Sydney took the concept of regenerative agriculture one step further by turning their Archie, Ain’t No Bull, into a working hydroponic system, decorated with themes from their Indigenous students.
The hydroponic system collects water at the Archie’s head, distributes it to the living plants on Ain’t No Bull, can store excess water, and drains used water through the udder. A porthole allows a 360o viewing of the internal assembly and functional capacity of the system. A thermometer and rain gauge allow for the measurement of weather changes over time.
“Ain’t No Bull is a unique sculpture, which has integrated the concepts of a sustainable agriculture future in the Nepean/Hawkesbury Valley. The working model of a basic hydroponic system in the Archie is a unique and interactive feature that is designed to present the concepts of a sustainable agricultural process to the broader community.”
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