What do you get when you take 10 iPads and cotton material soaked in fabric stiffener to create the cast of the fibreglass cow and then overlay that with handmaid embroidery? – iMoo that’s who.

Wednesday 16th November 2011

Day 2 Archibull Prize Judging and Art judge Wendy Taylor and enthusiastic “Jack of All Trades” Lynne Strong jumped in the Holden Rodeo and headed off to Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS) at Glenfield. We were rather pleased with ourselves that we were again on time and very excited to be heading to the home of the 2010 Archibull Prize winner and highly curious as to what the creative Hurlstone team had dreamt up for Archibull Prize 2011.

By way of background HAHS is an agricultural and selective, co-educational, public high school, located in Glenfield, a south-western suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is the oldest government boarding school in New South Wales.

Hurlstone is unique in that it is the state’s only public selective and agricultural school that also includes a coeducational boarding school. The 112 hectare campus includes an operational farm, sporting facilities and student accommodation. ( Blurb courtesy of Wiki)

When we arrived we introduced ourselves to the delightful ladies in the office and out of nowhere appeared effervescent year 10 student Emma who hails from Narrabri

Hurlstone was allocated Cotton as their food or fibre industry and to add to the mix had received a sitting down cow.

Can you imagine the look on our faces when we were introduced  to iMoo???????.

iMoo Hurlstone Agricultural High School's entry in 2011 Archibull Prize

I think even Steve Jobs would have been gobsmacked with just what a group of highly creative students and teachers can do with 10 iPads and cotton material soaked in fabric stiffener to create the cast of the fibreglass cow and then overlaid with handmade embroidery

In order to do justice to the juxtaposition of traditional vs modern, handcraft vs technology, urban vs rural and fragility vs strength iMoo conveys I have reprinted an extract from the art analysis courtsey of the HAHS Archibull Prize blog written by Lisa Nguyen who you can meet here

Cotton has become an integral asset in Australia and yet it seems that Australians, particularly those in urbanised areas are oblivious to the industry. Statistics we have uncovered during our investigation to produce this artwork have shocked us and have been employed in the artwork to shock the audience.

The use of cotton as the main medium in this artwork is a direct reference to the cotton industry of Australia. Its fragility reflects the precarious state of the cotton industry in Australia yet also speaks to the inherent strength of the industry through the unexpected stability of the form. The deliberate absence of colour in this artwork is also a significant aspect of this piece. The white cotton signifies purity, hope and innocence, a reference to the future of Australia that has not yet been tainted. The white scheme symbolic to the endless possibilities of tomorrow’s generation and the hope that maybe, one day the urban divide may be narrowed.

History is referenced through the use of cotton and embroidery, a traditional art form, which is then contrasted by the invasion of technology, the iPad. The advancement of technology in recent years has progressed in leaps and bounds and at times has solely replaced traditional means. In saying so, this ‘invasion’ at times is not entirely a bad thing; in fact it may be a perfect partnership. The integration of new technology in cotton farming practices has been seen to decrease damages, increase efficiency and hence increase profitability.

The iPad is representative of a current urban trend. People tend to follow information shown in technology and media almost religiously, regarding this as ‘truth’. The iPads, are used in this artwork to communicate the ‘real truth’ behind the struggling cotton industry.

Like all farming enterprises, cotton farmers are confronted with many difficulties, some easier to solve than others.

Interviews were conducted with a broad cross section of Australians and loaded onto the iPads. From ordinary Australians in shopping centres to Premier Barry O’ Farrell himself displaying limited appreciation of the human and environmental resources it takes to support Sydney for a one day. The result of these interviews were used in the artwork to inform and provoke responses from audiences.

The interactivity of iMoo not only allows audiences to physically interact with the piece in close proximity but also invites them to contribute to the collaborative artwork. The dynamic nature of the artwork means that the longer iMoo is exhibited the more comprehensive and extensive the video component will become, essentially personifying the artwork with the evolutionally characteristics of agriculture. The artwork bridges the rural divide through the integration of technology and tradition. The artwork’s interactive quality absorbs the audience while they explore these concepts.

HAHS student Jordan Kerr, teacher Jo Ross and students share with you the iMoo story here

You can see HAHS Student Jordan Kerr interview Barry O’Farrell here 

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell speaks to Jordan Kerr from Hurlstone Agricultural High School

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