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Artists and farmers coming together to envision a new future

Dec 17, 2019

Kim Williams and Lucas Ihlein, Seed & Song Community planting day – sugarcane and sunflowers, at ‘The Beacon’, Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, as part of the Watershed Land Art Project, 2018. Credit: Robert Bole.

Socially engaged art responds to urgent real world problems while simultaneously creating new genres and aesthetic approaches. It results in new collaborations, ways of engaging and ways of thinking which provide both artists and communities with important new platforms and opportunities.

Wollongong artists Kim Williams and Lucas Ihlein have been visiting the Mackay region since 2014 to gain a deeper understanding of the sugarcane industry and to investigate how artists and farmers can work together on large-scale human/ecology problems.

Their in-depth social and ecological engagement informed the stories told through their exhibition Sugar vs the Reef? at Artspace Mackay from November 2018 to January 2019.

The products of the artists’ extended collaborations in Mackay stimulated dialogue around complex intersections between environmental management, social behavior and cultural traditions. 

Old Ways New Ways – Sugarcane Harvest Celebration

The exhibition and its companion Watershed Land Art Project at Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens were outcomes of Lucas Ihlein’s 2016–17 Australia Council Emerging and Experimental Arts Fellowship.

Learn more about the Domestic Arts Tourism report.