In the second of our two-part series looking at cotton in the 2018 Archibull Prize here we profile six city high schools.
Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School have leapt straight out of the box with an eye-catching pop-art interpretation of cotton with their Archie ‘The DIVA’ – a dedicated informed visionary activist.
The DIVA is a bold, loud and iconic social media personality who spreads the good word about cotton near and far, and her artwork screams pop-art.
The quote from famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol takes pride of place in our design and boldly introduces the artistic vision of the overall design: “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art anyone could ever want to own”.
Even Granville’s Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe makes an appearance on The DIVA:
[Emma is] styled as cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, as a further nod to the power of advertising (women workers were widespread in the media as government posters, and commercial advertising was used extensively to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories). Both Emma and Rosie are symbols for feminism and the economic power of women in industry.
How cool is The DIVA?
Another visual stand-out is ‘Bulltossi’ from Ku-ring-gai High School, which was also mentored by YFC Emma Ayliffe,
During their Archibull journey the Ku-ring-gai students were fascinated to learn what goes into making the clothes they wear and, while realising there is much complexity in the cotton industry, chose to take a minimalistic approach to their Archie.
The Archie uses a visual language of signs and symbols to convey the Australian story of cotton. We drew inspiration from Bitossi ceramics because of their use of colour, pattern and shape.
Our Archibull was heavily inspired by the Australian landscape, represented in the ochre colours chosen.
Colour was also a feature of ‘Ushi Bombacio’, the blue and white Archie from Mamre Anglican College.
The addition of the loom and the inclusion of our own school tartan to demonstrate the link between our cotton industry and our everyday lives makes our Archie unique.
After a visit from YFC James Kanaley the students also came to realise that while cotton is grown in Australia economics mean it is sent overseas to be processed.
Often we do not even recognise the link between our own agricultural industry and the cotton products (such as our own school uniforms) we use every day. The flags from various countries to which we export or from which we buy products demonstrates the effect of globalisation on agriculture and the textiles industry.
Also being mentored by YFC James Kanaley Airds High School was one of a number who took to their Archie with a saw to produce a cut-out in the stomach, and this was a feature of ‘Queen of Cotton’.
The terrariums [in the cut-out] in the middle of our AHS Queen of Cotton are symbolic of the innovations of planting that require less watering. These terrariums demonstrate that through new initiatives and ideas we can save water, providing opportunities for further crops to be grown.
As a dominant theme the Aird High School students wanted to express their varied multicultural and socio-economic backgrounds in relation to the Australia cotton industry.
Overall, our Archibull, Queen of Cotton, is unique as she represents the ideological and sociological viewpoints of our student population, our Airds Community, wider NSW and Australia’s great and powerful agrarian nation and its relationship to the cotton industry.
Queen of Cotton identifies with our student population and is inclusive of our ‘Indigenous Heritage’, our ‘Pacifica’ identities and the overall sense of Australian identity in us all. Concurrent with our representation of our wider school community, we have used the bracelets of colourful beads on the horns to provide an opportunity to identify with our oriental and refugee students.
Real-life cotton bushes, glow-in-the-dark paint and interconnected wires made for an intriguing Archie from Irrawang High School who created ‘Synthia’ with the help of YFC Casey Onus.
Man-made fibres are portrayed on one side of Synthia, in contrast to the natural fibre of cotton on the other, with the head showing the contrasting issues of both.
The head is a visual of how the cotton industry is being taken over by synthetic materials. It shows the on-going battle between natural and man-made. Wrapped around the left horn is fine cotton thread and wrapped around the right horn is black nylon thread. This nylon continues on twisting and inter-twining through the synthetic side of Synthia, almost like its getting tangled in all of the destruction that manufacturing this material is causing.
And be careful around Synthia – she has secrets:
Hidden amongst the polyester shirt however, is a Nerf gun. The idea behind it is that the gun can be used as an interactive piece by the audience to shoot “yellow pellets” at the pests and diseases in areas that have a “target” to do your part to get rid of them!
The last of the secondary schools to study cotton was Dakabin State High School from Brisbane who created ‘Cottonbull’ with support from YFC Sharna Holman, who works for the cotton industry in Queensland
Like Irrawang the students were not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, in this case the closure of farms in the Menindee area due to water issues.
Our Cottonbull captures the story about the end to cotton farming in the town of Menindee. The design was inspired by an ABC news story written by Declan Gooch on the 20th of May 2018, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018- 05-20/menindee-last-cotton-harvest/9779014). The article brings attention the issue of water shortage in the region and the effects this has had on the agriculture and tourism industry. The solution to this issue is a plan for the government to buy back the water allocation and stop water running from Lake Menindee to Lake Cawndilla.
Our Cottonbull is unique because it brings attention the issue of water shortage, loss of tourism and agriculture. We have selected imagery directly relating to the news article, allowing the story to be interpreted clearly. The artwork has educated our students on farming issues in Australia, stages of cotton production as well as facts about the cotton industry.
But wait there is more. Tomorrow we bring you our Cattle and Sheep and Grains Archies and next week we will launch the People’s Choice and you can support the schools and pick your favourite Archie
in 2017 the people’s choice blog post was a social media phenomenon. 185,000 people across the globe visited the blog post 65,000 people voted in the poll.