Thursday, 17 October 2013

Yeah we made it to the finish line!!!!!!!

  Our Artwork analysis
Theme: What it takes to keep the Australian Dairy Industry sustainable?

Concept: The overall concept of our artwork deals with mechanisation and natural resource management in the Dairy Industry. The natural resource base that the industry relies upon for sustainable increases in efficiency, are the legs and living pasture foundation that we have constructed and grown for our cow to stand on. Her body is about mechanisation and innovation in milking technology and the biomechanical processes of milk production.  

The trolley base has an acknowledgement of country to the local aboriginal people who we pay respect to for being custodians and sustainable land managers for thousands of years. It is this land that is now used for agriculture in the Shoalhaven region and in the spirit of reconciliation we believe that their knowledge of country and land management practices is valuable and we can learn from this.

The base is our representation of the importance of good quality pasture to milk production. It has been planted with Kangaroo Valley Rye grass (developed as a pasture grass in our local area), Lucerne, red clover and chicory. This mixture of nutritious species includes the deeper rooting perennials which are able to withstand dry conditions and are used on many dairy farms to improve pastures. The growing medium contains the compost that we made at the beginning of our Archibull journey this year and all the worms that have bred in that organic matter.

The front region of her lower body at the heart of everything, uses interconnected drain pipes that lead from an effluent pond, to spell out the words Natural Resource Management. Waste water recycling is an important scheme that dairy farmers close to our school can access through the REMS scheme and being mindful of wasting water and considering what goes down the drain are important Natural Resource Management issues. NRM is at the heart of what will allow the dairy industry to continue to expand in the future. Sustainable use of our natural resources is critical for longevity of the industry.

The front leg moving forward is all about fencing off natural waterways in the farm landscape. We believe this is an important way that Dairy farmers are moving forward. This allows the riparian stream bank vegetation to not be trampled by cows and protects the banks from eroding. This will improve the water quality and the farm ecosystem. It is a common practice on farms in our local area, especially on properties that lead on to the Shoalhaven River, for farmers to work with volunteer Landcare workers and Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, to fence off the river banks and replant mangroves that the cows have eaten. We have also represented how waterways are interconnected within a catchment and ultimately flow out to the sea in our region.

The other front leg shows the importance of maintaining good soil health and the complexities of the soil food web. This is linked to increasing biodiversity on farms as represented by the three native birds: Black duck, Magpie and Willy Wagtail who are the top consumers in the web. By looking after soil structure and fertility and increasing biodiversity, farmers can keep their pastures healthy and their farms sustainable.

The back leg in the forward position represents five perennial pasture species: Lucerne, chicory, red clover, white clover and plantain. All of the species are highly nutritious pasture fodder for dairy cows that are planted to improve the quality of pasture. The better the pasture, the better the milk quality and quantity. These species have deeper root systems than ryegrasses and can withstand low rainfall conditions. This is very important in the ever increasing variable climate that Australian farmers work under and our tendency to have prolonged drought periods. Lucerne can add Nitrogen to the soil which improves its fertility.

The other back leg is about food waste and the unnecessary loss of 4 million tonnes of food in Australia each year to landfill. The bright red worm reminds the viewer that composting is a much better alternative to landfill. The ball and chain around her leg is symbolic this food waste being a weight that is dragging the sustainability of Australian agriculture backwards.

On her back udder are symbols of the supermarket price wars for discount milk and a wound that is being stitched up with a needle down the back of her udder. This represents the damage that reduced prices have caused for dairy farmer confidence in the economic future of their farms. Farmers work hard and invest huge amounts of money in their farm operations and they deserve fair prices for their milk from the processors.

We have treated one side of our cow as if she is a large fermentation chamber machine that ‘makes’ milk. We have shown the inputs (food, water and the birth of a calf) necessary to run the machine and what is produced. The importance of genetics and computerized records to breeding programs is represented by the image of the DNA double helix molecule connected to a section of a computer motherboard. The layout and design of the ruminant digestive system of the cow is represented in situ, as if viewing in cross-section and each part is labeled with its anatomical name like the blueprint of a machine might be drawn up. We have kept the relative size and position of each part correct for a real cow. The side opens and the ruminant digestive system can be pulled out. Details about the roles of each of the four stomachs and other sections are written on the material model that we have sewn together, so that the viewer can understand details about how the machine works and what is produced. We have also shown the waste products that are created. The mammary glands in the teats are also included in detail on the udder as they are another part of ‘the machine’.

On the other side we have used a timeline/graph to show how increasing mechanisation and computerisation of the milking process has changed over time. We have used the statistics on the graph for milk production and numbers of cows to show how efficiency gains in milk production have been linked to innovation and technological improvements over time. These are linked to the figures that are underneath the images of milking technology which show how many people an Australian farmer fed in 1950, 1970 and 1990. The images are of the changes in milking technology as innovation, mechanisation, computerisation and robotics have been used in milking technology design. The one farmer is shown in three images and their role becomes less labour intensive over the time scale. Robotic dairy milking promotes milk production through more frequent stimulation of the mammary glands as the cows are often being milked 3 times a day and when they want to be milked which is good for animal welfare. Her head which has suggestions of ‘morphing’ into a cyborg cow (a futuristic vision?) has planet Earth eyes as she looks forward to feeding a future growing population and she carries her name on her forehead and the Australian dairy logo on her blaze.

Stylistic influences: There are several characteristics which make our artwork postmodern; these include bricolage, the use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, the recycling of past styles and themes in a modern-day context, as well as the break-up of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and popular culture. The juxtaposition of old and new, especially with regards to taking styles from past periods and re-fitting them into modern art outside of their original context, is a common characteristic of postmodern art. Bricolage is the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available. In our work we have used computer motherboards, compost, galvanised iron, chain, a volleyball, expanding foam, a baby’s headband, earthworms, living pasture species of plants, felt, material, wood and electrical leads. Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The elements treated this way are the computer motherboards, electrical leads, chain and the living pasture base that our cow stands in. Text and numbers make up a significant part of the art work and are a central artistic element. All of the text is connected to the images and concepts we are trying to portray. The food waste leg and back udder have been treated with collage and also include images that come from popular culture such as the half price symbol and red hand logo. The painting styles are both expressionistic and realistic and these have been juxtaposed against stylised drain pipes which make up the wording on the front, simple arrow symbols, numerical data and the stylised Holstein black and white markings of her front and rear.

What makes your Archibull unique?: The connection between the two elements of NRM and Dairy, her living improved pasture base and her pull out model of the digestive system.


Year 8 English responses:

An Udder Catastrophe!

Pasture by Pasture, we move around.

Eating and pooping all over the ground.
Calf by calf, labour by labour.
We help these humans, we do them a favour.

4 is the number of stomachs we have,

4 is the time we are milked by Gav.
It is hard work but we shouldn’t complain, 

At least we’re not meat cows, who live in vain.

Grown to be killed, end up burgers.
It’s time to hit the hay, as the night converges.
Udder Brilliance
Yesterday we learnt a lot about the Dairy Industry and cows.
We learnt that we waste 4 million tonnes of food a year and we need to start being more conservative with what we do.
We also realised that the way we milk our cows is changing and evolving a lot and it is now being done mechanically.
On the cow they have put a lot of work into producing such a high standard of art. The cow shows how much it is developed and it shows a timeline of how milking has changed from using your hands and a bucket to being milked robotically.
The insides of cow have been added to the internal cavity, to show the four stomachs of a cow.
It has a lot of detail and must have taken a long time to get where it is now.
Jasmine, Sonja and Georgia. Year 8  English
Udder Brilliance
Shoalhaven High Schools Archibull Cow, “Udder Brilliance”, Is a very creative and inspiring example of the Dairy Industry.
It shows on one side how the dairy farming career has developed over the years from hand milking to robotic dairies today.
One leg is about the natural resource management which is where the farmers are having to fence off rivers so the cattle cannot get to it because the cattle were causing erosion.
Another leg is about the pasture improvement ensuring that farms plant perennials .
The last leg is about how much perfectly good food gets thrown out which is a total of four tonnes annually.
The 2013 Archibull Cow is extremely good and everyone involved has done a great job.
By Shellyce Hobill, Rachael Harris, Rebekah Nielsen and Nikita Lee. Year 8 English
Udder Brilliance
The Archibull Award-
Yesterday we viewed the cow that has been prepared for entry by our teachers and students.
One leg is about the Natural Resource Management- Fencing off natural water ways.
One leg is about the importance of healthy soil to maintain food webs.
One leg is about the food we waste each year in Australia which is 4 million tonnes annually.
One side of the cow displays milk production and how farms need to move to automation to improve the value of their work.
I learnt in yesterday’s lesson that it is very important for our society to become more aware of how we waste tonnes of food each year in Australia. How it is becoming more important for farms to ensure that any natural water ways are protected from cows trampling the banks and causing erosion.
How the four stomachs of a cow work and that it is important to plant perennials which are deep rooting and handle drought.
Maxine Kelaher



  1. What a brilliant creation! Exactly what school should be all about- creativity, deep knowledge and understanding, engagement and fun, as well as hard work! I am so impressed. Congratulations on your achievement: what a team of staff and students. As an olive grower myself, I know the importance of bringing agriculture into many more urban areas, demystifying and celebrating it. As a member of my own arts community, I love the way art has (as it should be) been the medium through which important ideas are explored.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The slogan for Archibull is "Art Feeds the Mind - Farmers Feed the Future" and it sums up exactly what this journey is all about. We highly recommend that schools get involved and that we continue to spread the sustainability message everywhere possible.