A Cowasaki Mootorbike has taken off with the 2016 Archibull Prize, giving Matraville Sports High School their second consecutive win in this prestigious event.
Following their vivid interpretation of the wool industry in 2015 Matraville Sports High School once again rose to the challenge of The Archibull Prize, turning a white fibreglass cow into a beast on wheels. Representing the grains industry Cowasaki, with grain flames and a mambo-esque aesthetic, illustrated how biofuels and grains can power a nation.
Thirty six primary and secondary schools from News South Wales and Queensland participated in The 2016 Archibull Prize following the theme that not only powering, but feeding and clothing a hungry nation is a shared responsibility. Each school was assigned an industry – wool, cotton, grains, sheep or cattle – and a Young Farming Champion to assist them in their journey. The students presented their research in the form of blogs, infographics, animations and through the adornment of a life-sized cow, their Archie.
Run under the Art4Agriculture banner, 2016 was the sixth year The Archibull Prize has successfully connected the next generation of Australians to the importance and relevancy of agriculture.
Using farmers farming practices as inspirations, students explored issues such as climate change, biosecurity, food security, and renewable energy, and investigated the range of careers available in this sector.
Much of the success of The Archibull comes from the concept of giving students ownership of the challenges facing agriculture and encouraging them to be part of the solution. At the conclusion of the program students have a better understanding of the world in which they live and can actively communicate their ideas for a sustainable future.
“As the artwork judge, my job is becoming increasingly difficult as the standard becomes higher and higher each year,” Wendy Taylor from Redblue Architecture and Design said. “The level of creativity being displayed by participating schools is truly inspiring. It is now a huge achievement just to be selected as a finalist, due to the quality of entries being produced.”
Wendy believes Matraville’s winning Cowasaki was a bold, daring and unique move. “This powerful beast is simple and yet also extremely complex,” Wendy said. “The wonderful connections between the story of biofuels and the clever concept are highlighted by the wonderful grain elements, particularly the grain exhaust flames and the grain-filled hose. It really is the visual representation of being able to grow and use renewable and clean fuels. The bold concept draws the viewer in, but it is the story and information provided that holds their attention. Cowasaki is quirky, fun, educational and totally wow!”
Reserve Grand Champion Archibull was awarded to The Henry Lawson High School, Grenfell, who derived inspiration from the board game Monopoly and converted it to their interpretation of the cotton industry in Cottonopoly. “Through this game we have been able to explore aspects of the cotton industry and sustainable practices in cotton farming, processing, and the fashion industry,” the school’s artwork analysis said. “Our aim is to allow audiences to connect with memories of this game, allowing them to associate that with the aspects of the cotton industry and the ideas we have explored.”
Particularly satisfying for Art4Agriculture National Director Lynne Strong was the high standard of entries from primary schools. “While The Archibull Prize was originally only designed for secondary schools it has been encouraging to see primary students take ownership of the competition and produce artwork, infographics and animations on par with some of the secondary students,” she said. This was vividly illustrated by Gwynneville Public School who incorporated international flags, bale bar codes, and a Narrabri/Gunnedah road sign into their Archie “King Cotton”, which won them Champion Primary School.
The Archibull Prize awards ceremony was held in Sydney on Tuesday 22nd November 2016 and was attended by dignitaries, sponsors, teachers, students, Young Farming Champions, and celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis. “Congratulations to everyone involved in The Archibull Prize. I can’t think of a better way to combine art and career opportunities in agriculture,” Costa enthused to his audience before encouraging students to spread their stories. “If we’re going to build a food future in this country that thrives on a dining boom based on your shoulders and your labours and your career pathways, you’ve got to tell people. The opportunities are endless as is the energy and vitality of the young people I have met who are involved in this space.”
Scott Hanson, Director General NSW Department of Primary Industries, was also enthusiastic in his praise of The Archies. “It’s amazing the people this program reaches and it’s not just the 120,000 students involved or the media coverage. It’s also the number of overseas visitors, international dignitaries and media who pass through the minister’s office (The Hon Niall Blair MP NSW Minster for Primary Industries Land and Water) who stop and comment on the Grand Champion Archibull displayed in his office each year. It’s the number of selfies taken with the Archie by a celebrity list of politicians and people involved in international trade from around the globe,” he said. “The Archie is starting conversations around Australia’s food and fibre production. It’s important to capture these conversations and have them in our communities. Australian farmers feed 20 million people here. They also feed another 60 million people around the world. It’s important to have these conversations with our overseas customers and show how our farmers turn what nature provides into high quality food and fibre.”
In addition to prizes for best Archies and best multi-media presentations two special awards recognised patrons of The Archibull Prize. The inaugural Alan Eagle Award was for a school fostering partnerships between education, business and the community and was won by Matraville Sports High School for their innovative partnership with the University of New South Wales.
Professor Jim Pratley of Charles Sturt University has been a long supporter of The Archibull Prize and is forthright in encouraging young people to consider careers in agriculture. As a result, an award in his name asked students to envisage a working day in an agricultural profession. The award was won by Samuel Carpenter from The Henry Lawson High School who accurately portrayed a day in the life of an agronomist.
The 2016 Archibull Prize was sponsored by NSW Department of Primary Industries, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Cotton Australia, NSW Local Land Services, Australian Wool Innovation and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. Each year it breaks new ground as school students garner a deep understanding and appreciation of the role farmers and the agriculture sector play in contributing to the economy. For sponsors and supporters of The Archibull Prize these are encouraging and affirmative outcomes, for now the next generation not only understands but emphasizes with, and in cases desires to work with, Australian agriculture.
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.