Bringing Arthur Boyd’s vision to life

I just love working with bright young minds who grab life with both hands and run with it. Rachel Walker is one of those young people

I have reblogged this from Art4AgriculutureChat as I am confident Rachel’s journey will inspire you just as much as it does me

Background

Art4Agriculture’s Young Eco Champions have each identified a farmer they want to work side by side with to get best environmental outcomes for Australia’s natural resources 226A5485.JPG.Still001_HIres

Art4Agriculutre Young Eco Champions (right) with some of our Young Farming Champions and members of the Art4Agriculture network

We were very excited to have the opportunity to pair Rachel Walker with Bundanon Trust.

Rachel’s shares this wonderful opportunity with you today through her guest blog post …

Bringing Arthur Boyd’s vision to life – by Rachel Walker

As a Young person with a love for Australia’s wonderful landscapes and a deep respect of how scarce our natural resources are and the opportunity that young people have to pay an active role in protecting and enhancing them

IMG_0218

Rachel left participating in a Face to Camera to camera workshop at a recent Young Farming Champions/Young Eco Champions workshop 

I also believe that Australia can play an integral role on a global scale by setting good examples in the management of our scarce resources.

I have learnt that the majority of the Australian landscape and its resources, are managed by our farmers, and much of that includes privately owned areas of native bushland. Hence our farmers also have a very important environmental role to play

As a Young Eco Champion, I have been able to spend some time with the Bundanon Trust in the Shoalhaven. The trust has the unique challenge of rehabilitating and maintaining a large area of native bushland as part of Arthur Boyd’s gift to the Australian people.

The 1,100 ha of river front land was generously left to the people of Australia in 1993, by renowned Australian artist, Arthur Boyd, and featured in much of his artwork. Since the gift the properties have been under the care of the Bundanon Trust, which has preserved the natural and cultural heritage, and developed a fantastic artistic educational experience that is adaptable and applicable to all levels of knowledge. It hosts school children year-round, as well as artists in residence

clip_image002

The Riversdale Property regularly hosts workshops for young people

clip_image004

As well as guests from all over the world who see views to die for

riversdaleview1

and enjoy fine Shoalhaven Produce prepared by local chefs

clip_image008

Including local wines

clip_image010

And beef grazed on the property

bundanon beef1

On Friday I was fortunate enough to be taken on a personal tour of the four properties that together form the Bundanon Trust. A stipulation of the bequest was that Bundanon was to always remain a working property in some capacity, and to be accessible to the people of Australia. Today the properties have reduced their beef cattle production in favour of restoring native forest, a tribute to the inspiration in many of Arthur Boyd’s artworks.

96-0163-0001-01_small

Arthur Boyd, Peter’s fish and crucifixion, 1993 Copyright Bundanon Trust Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust 1993

 

During my visit to Bundanon, Riversdale and Eearie Park it became apparent to me what a fantastic job the Bundanon Trust has done in caring for and managing this magnificent resource combining farm, education and culture, and also what an enormous responsibility they have for the environmental management of the properties for the people of Australia. This is particularly so given the length of Shoalhaven riparian zone (boundary between the land and river) that the properties border.

My ever-enthusiastic guide and Bundanon’s education manager, Mary Preece, has been utilising her photographic skills to catalogue the diverse plants species present across the properties, in order to contribute to the understanding of the biodiversity across the 11 vegetation communities in the landscape.

clip_image016

Mary Preece Bundanon’s Education Manager works with local school students at Riversdale

However the management of 1,100 ha of diverse, native landscape has its challenges, and the Bundanon Trust is using theirs as an opportunity to learn and educate others by setting a great example of natural resource management.

clip_image018

Mary Preece is photographing and cataloguing the diverse plant species on Bundanon in order to contribute to the understanding of the biodiversity across the 11 vegetation communities in the landscape.

One of the most apparent ongoing battles that the Bundanon landscape faces is the infestation of Lantana, particularly along the 15km riparian zone.

Haunted-Point-100_4507Pulpit Rock viewed from Bundanon Property

.As luck would have it, Bundanon’s caretaker Gary, who is also the longest serving resident of the properties, was happy to take me up to a place called Haunted Point, where the battle against invasive Lantana has been ongoing for a few years, and threatens the properties’ biodiversity and ecosystem health.

clip_image020

This aggressive weed has been removed from the properties once before, and so there is a strong push to remove it again – this time for good! Landcare Australia, Greening Australia and the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority are partnering with the Bundanon Trust to orchestrate the enormous task of removing Lantana from all the properties. Even from my brief tour around Haunted Point, the difference between cleared and uncleared areas was incredible! The cleared areas looked unburdened in contrast to the dense weed that seemed to be choking the understorey of the uncleared zones.

clip_image022

This task is expected to take 3 years and to be completed by 2015. The removal of Lantana however is not a once off job, and will require constant management once the initial removal is complete, to prevent reinvasion. With so many knowledgeable people on hand, and the enthusiasm of the people that I met on my trip to Bundanon, I’m sure it is a labour of love that will lead to the eradication of this weed and the rehabilitation of the region. I am looking forward to seeing the progress as it continues.

clip_image024

As we drove down the rocky road away from Haunted Point, we were able to identify a variety of vegetation that is inherent to the Shoalhaven region – red cedars for which the area was first colonised, figs, gums, banksia’s and bush lemons were all found along the way, not mention some petrified wood from a rock that had recently been split in half by a falling tree!

clip_image027

Another environmental issue that Bundanon faces is the threat of bank erosion, which is unfortunately exacerbated by the removal vegetation (yes, even lantana) from the riparian zone. The property has taken many steps forward in reducing the impact of their practices on the riparian zone, by fencing off livestock and reinforcing vulnerable areas with local rocks to slow erosion rates. The awareness of such issues and the dedication of the Trust towards developing management strategies not only benefits the local region, but by sharing these experiences with visitors and students as part of the educational experience, Bundanon sets a great example of achievable goals, and such knowledge is passed on to the public where is has no boundaries!

clip_image029

Bundanon Homestead

To add a great end to a fantastic day, I was shown around the sandstone homestead of the Boyd family, completed in 1866. Walking through the homestead was quite a personal and unique experience, with no ropes or barricades to keep you from getting a close up look at the displayed art collection, which includes artworks from Arthur’s childhood and throughout his life, and from all members of the family.

studio pick

Arthur Boyd’s studio at Bundanon

My favourite things were that children were allowed to play the family’s grand piano, and that the studio light switches were still covered in paint!

clip_image031

Bundanon Trust is in a unique position where they have the opportunity to involve the public and educate students on the impacts that they are having through their natural resource management choices. It was a great day in the Shoalhaven, and a a great example of how the team are integrating the exploration of the artistic heritage of Arthur Boyd and his family with response to landscape and immersion in the natural environment.

Riversdale BEC1

Riversdale – Spectacular scenery teamed with an award winning building designed by Glenn Murcutt in association with Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark

Mirror Mirror Do you like what you see?

Last Saturday was no ordinary day in the life of this dairy farmer and the Bundanon Siteworks event FUTURE FOOD FEAST A DAY OF TALKING, EATING & DOING still has my head spinning.

Gretel Killeen was a last minute replacement for Jenny Brockie as the panel facilitator which required a green room huddle to allow her to get up to speed on who the panel was and what motivated us. What was great about this was it meant the panellists also got insights into each other. It soon became obvious the afternoon would open my mind to many new ideas and concepts that I was positive would be equally exciting to the audience.  

Gretel Killeen 

Gretel Killeen filled in as facilitator after Jenny Brockie broke her arm

Mike McCallum

I was lucky enough to share a lunch table with fellow panellist and future architect Mike McCallum who as it turns out also has an extensive background in the dairy industry

Lynne Strong and the Panel

The Panel: LtoR Gretel Killeen, Lynne Strong, Jared Ingersoll, Mike McCallum, Jodie Newcombe, John Crawford and Ingrid Just.

I was there to share my story and listen and learn and did just that. The conversation went for more than 2 hours and to do it justice I am asking each of the panellists to write a guest blog. You will be excited to know Chef Jared Ingersoll and Mike McCallum have already been asked and agreed.  

To start of off just a few thoughts from me.

  • I know there are a million things I can do to reduce my footprint and I am always saddened that people see our present and future challenges as wicked problems – i.e. too big for them as individuals to make a difference. As Jarod said “ broad scale change starts when one person does something”. By the way here are some things you can do http://www2.acfonline.org.au/
  • I am amazed that people think there is always a way to make the planet fit the the lifestyle we have created for ourselves and refuse to believe that what we think is good for us is too often not good for the planet. For example the suggestion that we protect prime agriculture land and reduce our footprint by more people living in one house or our buildings should go up rather than out and we share white goods and cars was met with shock horror by one audience participant and he was very upfront about it. 
  • I cant believe how many people must think farming is easy. There was a suggestion from the audience that the answer to prime agriculture land being gobbled up by housing was for the government to pay the people in the houses incentives to grow food on their land. Isn’t that subsidised farming and just when will these people find the time and where will they get the skills sets?  There was the idea that instead of supporting rural and regional and remote Australia everyone moves to the cities and urban agriculture will grow all our food. We then let rural, regional and remote Australia go back to the “way it was” and it be a community space. Wouldn’t the  government love that one. With farmers now looking after 61% of the Australian landscape imagine what a huge impost looking after all that land would be on taxpayers let alone the infrastructure et al required to grow all our food in and around millions of people.
  • I am always saddened by some people’s perceptions of modern farming practices and that their knowledge comes from things they had heard or read about rather than seen. There was mention of factory farmed cows being fed cement dust and the answer to everything was to farm organic. As Professor Crawford reminded people there was no evidence to show that organic per se led to better environmental or animal welfare outcomes. Poor old cows got a bit of bashing as usual. People forget or are unaware that only 2% of Australia is suitable for growing crops and what a great job cows in Australia do maintaining the thousands and thousand of hectares of rangelands in this country and no-one in Australia is chopping down rainforest to graze cows
  • I was pleased to see people do value farmers and believe we should value food at its true price and panellist Ingrid Just from Choice talked about the “heart and the hip” scenario and I look forward to her sharing that with you.
  • I was pleased to overhear that I was not the “usual angry farmer”. Its disappointing our farmers are often perceived this way. It was very obvious the community would love to work with us to achieve a value chain that really values people from paddock to plate.   
  • I was also found I had a lot to learn for the diverse knowledge of the other panellists and I am very pleased to be able to off them space to share that with you in the coming weeks

Back to “Mirror Mirror do you like what you see?”  Pam Green posed this question in her summing up of the panel discussion. Here is what Pam saw as the key take away messages

  • There is a coming storm of many ‘peaks’ – water, soil, oil, current centralised systems, biodiversity. There is only one water, one planet.
  • A functioning, healthy environment is the key to health, well being and prosperity.
  • A raised awareness/mindfulness/shift in consciousness is essential.
  • Awareness, education and making it easy and economical is key to enabling good choices.
  • There is a need to develop new traditions to support new values – real value of food in social, cultural, environmental and economic terms.
  • Growing ideas as well as food important. Artists are innovators and develop creative space for change.
  • There is a need for better awareness of true account for use of natural resources – what is the carbon or environmental footprint of food production what are the transparent trade offs in land use change for housing, mining, other uses? National environmental accounts to be viewed along side of our national economic accounts.
  • The importance of connectivity – joined up thinking about the whole web of life. Humans are part of this web but we need to manage our change of the rest of the biosphere with the future in mind.
  • We need to envision the future, map a path to it and start the journey.
  • Local leadership is critical. We are on the cusp of a new age of networked and distributed economy and society.
  • Society is the mirror of our collective humanness

Mirror, mirror on the wall, do we like what we see? We are the change we seek. Well said Pam                

By the way for those of you not familiar with the venue Bundanon is Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s gift to the Australian people. The property managed by a Trust includes the Bundanon Homestead site and the Riversdale site and is located on 1,100 hectares of pristine bush land overlooking the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra in New South Wales, two and a half hours south of Sydney. The Trust’s Board of Directors reports directly to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, who in turn appoints the Chairperson and the Directors.

Bundanon

Bundanon House

Arthur Boyd's Studio. Photographer Keith Saunders._0

Arthur Boyd’s studio at Bundanon – photo by Keith Saunders

IMG_6557

We had tea at the Riversdale Education Centre in this amazing building designed by Glenn Murcutt. Yes that is the Shoalhaven River you see in the background and I thought I lived in paradise.

Riversdale

The Riversdale Exterior 

IMG_6546 

There are art forms everywhere you look

IMG_6466

There was something for everyone

IMG_6487

IMG_6485

Local foodie and cafe owner Cathy Law manned the Green Box Stand

 

IMG_6473

We dined on Bundanon Beef and Farm Manager Henry Goodall created a Paddock to Plate video which was available for viewing in the Bundanon Homestead.  He also tanned the hide which is the rug you see on the floor

Lynne and Henry

The farmers Henry Goodall and Lynne Strong ( proving she has a very big mouth)

 

There is more to come