Hurlstone Agricultural High School has started 2015 with a big bang taking out the first prize award in the School’s District Exhibit display at the 2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show with their beautiful display entitled VALEDICTION
The Schools District Exhibit competition has the dual purpose of showcasing talented young people and their team work from NSW schools as well as identifying, encouraging and mentoring young people to feed into the iconic District Exhibit Display teams.
In fact 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes in the Schools District Exhibit competition where all taken out by schools who are long time participants in the Archibull Prize. So a big congratulations also goes to Muirfield High School and Menai High School
Here is the beautiful story behind Valediction
Valediction explores the sacrifice, loss and hope of women during WW1. Mothers, wives, daughters and sisters farewelled the men in their lives as they made their way to the “Great War”. They said their goodbyes in the knowledge that it may well be their final farewell. Arguably the most devastating cost of war is emotional, yet until recently, it has been the most seldom told.
Valediction is the act of farewelling someone. This display explores the intangible, emotional effects of war. A woman grieves for her husband who will not return as her son leaves the family farm in his uniform to meet his fate. She holds a photograph of her husband. The notice advising her of his death floats to the floor.
Bundles of letters wrapped in red ribbon are nostalgic links to the past. Red is repeated in the poppies; a symbolic reference to the blood stained ground of the battlefields also alluding to regeneration and hope. This idea is layered by utilising poppy seeds in the construction of the landscape and in the sign at the front of the exhibit.
The white feather, a symbol of cowardice, is included in the display as it prompted many boys and men to enlist and leave home. This reference is extended by creating wings with white feathers that hang next to the slouch hat; simultaneously alluding to mortality and spirituality.
Women were left to manage the farms. The green of the land starts to engulf the body of the mourning figure as she becomes responsible for its cultivation.
The juxtaposition of patriotism and domestic responsibilities is explored; seeking balance where none could exist. Farmers who had strong, intimate connections with the land lost the opportunity to pass down their invaluable knowledge. Family traditions faltered. Women took responsibility for sustaining traditions, livelihoods, stock, crops and indeed… nourishing the nation.