The Archibull Prize connects school students with the people and the places behind the food we eat and the natural fibres we use. Since its inception over 300,000 students have been engaged in courageous conversations about how farmers and the community can work together to create a world with zero hunger and zero waste.
Five Young Farming Champions with support from Australian Wool Innovation partnered with 10 schools studying wool industry in The Archibull Prize and showed that issues such as drought, climate change and mental health are prominent in student minds. The Archie action continues and here we take a look at more schools studying the wool industry, starting with the always surprising Hurlstone Agricultural High School who delved into the world of magic.
Shambull the African Witch Doctor is the Archie designed by Year 10 Visual Arts at Hurlstone to represent drought and climate change. Made entirely from felt Shambull explores the theme of lush to dry.
“The piece depicts an area of Broken Hill, the area of New South Wales most affected by the drought. It’s the ending of a day, which thematically represents a change. It also represents how we are running out of time to find a solution to the environmental problems facing the industry right now.”
Hurlstone was assisted by YFC Wilcannia Merino farmer Bessie Thomas and and Broken Hill farmer Anika Molesworth who also inspired the African influence after telling the students of how her family uses African breeds of drought-tolerant sheep.
“From this, we decided to delve further into the rich culture of Africa. We immediately felt drawn to the idea of traditional witch doctors masks. Witch doctors, in essence, are members of societies who aid others using magic and medicine. This concept of healing felt extremely appropriate as a message of hope in a tough, overwhelming time. They personify healing, representing our dreams for future positive environmental change.”
Over at Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School students continued with their pop-art theme from 2018 to create another DIVA with a social conscious. One side of DIVA 2.0 depicts the wool supply chain from paddock to garment; the other, inspired by veterinarian and YFC Dione Howard, shows internal organs of a cow – made from wool!
“DIVA 2.0 sits on a bed of green woollen crocheted grass full of beautiful blooming daffodils and forget me nots, because we wouldn’t want to forget the iconic wool industry and should be promoting its quality and use throughout our lives.”
DIVA 2.0 exerted her social conscious this year by collecting wool products for distribution to Sydney’s homeless.
“DIVA 2.0 is brightly coloured and literally sparkles but the most unique part about her is that she is giving back. She has not only promoted and encouraged the use of ethical practices and the welfare of animals through her design but she has literally collected woollen goods from our local community to give back to the wider community. DIVA is soft, generous and caring.”
Elizabeth Moo-Carthur (or Lizzie for short) is the name of the cow-now-sheep Archie from St Johns Park High School who are situated near the original farms owned by Australia’s wool pioneers, the Macarthurs.
“Our Archie has metamorphosed into a merino sheep rather than keeping its original form of a cow. To achieve this change, Lizzie’s horns were removed, which taught us about the safety of working with fibreglass, learned from our Industrial Arts teacher. To construct the horns which are indicative of a merino sheep, we fashioned the curve from paper cups, recycled wire coat hangers, papier maché, and lots of masking tape. By the addition of real wool and painting the face to make her look like a sheep, Lizzie’s transformation was complete. Lizzie is trans-species, and we do not judge her – we accept her for who she is.”
Using jigsaw-shaped pieces Lizzie takes the viewer on a journey through the wool industry, employment, climate change and biosecurity – the latter inspired by a visit from YFC Lucy Collingridge.
“We did not know very much about the need for, or importance of, biosecurity before meeting Lucy. A range of microscopic images of bacteria, such as Dermatophilus congolensis that effect sheep and wool are represented symbolically in jigsaw pieces by brightly painted styrofoam balls, some with pipe-cleaner filaments and some without. Red and white twisted pipe cleaners represent the blood sucking parasite Barber Pole Worms (Haemonchus contortus), which can be fatal for all types of sheep.”
When the blank Archie turned up at Skillset Senior College in Bathurst it had a broken ear so, rather than fix it, students drew inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh (who cut off part of his own ear) and combined this with indigenous influences.
“Our students were given the chance to work with a local Wiradjuri artist Kantandra Mackay. She helped teach the students how to create works that allowed them to express themselves in a range of ways. Exploring indigenous, modernist and personal approaches to artmaking and personal expression was one of the key features of our project.”
YFC Peta Bradley was also instrumental in guiding the creation of the Archie, named Interknitted Communities.
“Our Young Farming Champions visit was amazing! As part of an initial ZOOM visit Peta Bradley gave the students inspiration through her use of google maps, the students really wanted to explore the idea of an aerial view, creating ‘paddocks’ that were joined together. When Peta came to our school, the students were so proud to show her their progress and to get to ask her more questions about the wool industry. Each square on our entry was created by an individual student who created a design based on country, the wool industry or agriculture more broadly.”
Irrawang High School explored wool by focussing on the important, but sometimes overlooked, profession of shearing. Inspired by world-champion shearer Hilton Barrett their Archie (named Hilton) looks at traditional shearing and a future where sheep are shorn by robotics.
“The front half of the cow is highlighting the process of how a traditional sheep shearer needs to approach a sheep and what cuts should be done in order for the sheep to be as relaxed as they can, but also for the shearer not to strain themselves too much. The red lines across the back at the front are symbolic of how the machine being developed would try and cut from research images.”
LED lighting leads the viewer across Hilton to show a shearing shed, the Help ‘em shearing logo (an initiative started by Barrett), the direction of shearing cuts and a robotic arm. Pops of blue though out represent the shearer’s singlet.
“The final part of our cow is the small robot arm, which is a symbol of the larger concept of robotics, and it can perform a simple task like pick up some fleece from the shearing shed floor.”
Mega shoutout to our supporting partners as you can see all the schools and students involved in 2019 Archibull Prize experience found it an invaluable learning tool on so many levels