The Material Ecologies Research Network gathers to kick off plans for 2017 at the Wollongong Botanic Garden with our second network picnic lunch en plein air.
New members joined MECO in 2016 from our diverse spread of collaborative research projects, partnered events and individual practices.
Come and meet old and new friends.
The Robert Woodward Mercury Fountain is a short walk from the Northfields Avenue pedestrian entrance to the gardens opposite the main UOW campus. SEE MAP:
Directions for travellers outside Wollongong
Driving: When driving from the north or south take the F6 Freeway and exit at the Keiraville exit then follow the signs to the Wollongong Botanic Garden.
Parking: Main car park is on Murphys Avenue, Keiraville; other possible parking in Northfields Avenue on the university campus side.
A circuit linking the Botanic Garden to the city, the beach, the University, Innovation Campus and Fairy Meadow. The service operates between 7am and 10pm from Monday to Friday. Every 10 minutes during peak (7am – 9pm & 3pm – 6pm) and every 20 minutes off-peak.
[Bare-nosed Wombat photograph and invitation design, top: Jo Law]
MECO and Global Challenges Seminar and Workshop
16th September 8.00am- 3.00pm
From data to drawing to writing and collections of material culture, scholars and practitioners have long developed a suite of ways to think and imagine the landscapes and environments in which we, and those we share the earth with, live. This day-long event will bring together interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners to explore and experiment with ‘thinking landscape’.
Landscapes are complex environmental, cultural and social entities, and artists, scientists and others continue to seek means of thinking and representing landscapes that can engage with and celebrate landscapes’ multi-dimensionality. This has made for centuries of practices of writing and painting, land and earth art, as well as contemporary advances in digital and geo humanities that focus on the evolution of data visualisation and sonificiation practices. The creation of immersive landscape experiences has expanded from the reflective performance within the landscape or gallery spaces to generative and critical data aesthetics.
In an era where global environmental change and social injustices are framed as ‘wicked’ problems requiring interdisciplinary solutions, and in which ‘creative experiments’ are framed as offering potential solutions to the temporal and spatial challenges of apprehending the changing conditions of our landscapes, this symposium suggests it is necessary to ‘think’ the landscape again. Such expanded senses of experimentation redistribute the sites, spaces, practices and subjects of knowledge—whether that be through the tools of environmental science or cultural histories and heritage; they make space for hybrid research practices and collaborative efforts, as well as redistribute expertise making new spaces for seeing, hearing and accounting for others in the representations and imaginations of landscape that are produced.
‘Thinking Landscape’ features a workshop exploring a range of practices of engaging with data about landscape, including visualisation and sonification data, as well as talks by Mitchell Whitelaw (School of Art, ANU http://mtchl.net/) and Harriet Hawkins (Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, www.creativegeographies.org).
To book a place and to see the full schedule please visit the eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-landscape-data-geography-arts-and-interdisciplinarity-tickets-27370917150
MECO member Dr Lucas Ihlein is hosting this event in Sydney, on Thursday 11 August from 6.00PM – 7.30PM
Free – (Bookings).
Join us for an evening with this most ubiquitous of grains.
Building on his recent visit to a rice farming enterprise in Guangdong province, Lucas Ihlein hosts a conversation with artist Vic McEwan, recipient of the Arts NSW Regional Fellowship 2014-15 (NarranderaNSW), and rice farmer Tim Randall (Griffith NSW).
What social, environmental and economic factors affect rice farming communities in Australia and China today?
Several varieties of Randall Organic Rice will be sampled on the night!
This 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art public program is a co-production with the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation (KSCA) and the Material Ecologies Research Network (MECO) at University of Wollongong.
Presented as part of Sea Pearl White Cloud 海珠白雲, an exhibition of new work by Lucas Ihlein and Trevor Yeung, produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in partnership with Observation Society, Gaunzghou, and supported by the City of Sydney.
Kim Williams | July 2016
This time we weren’t going to get caught out, no! Most of us came prepared with Arctic-style clothing and bedding to insulate against the dry, biting cold typical of mid-winter at Riversdale. Of course it was warm and wet this year. A balmy 23 degrees, then a full night and day of rain, transforming our spectacular view along the Shoalhaven River into an atmospheric arrangement of muted greens, greys and silver, with rising mists over mirrored water.
The view is compelling – your eyes are drawn along the broad, straight avenue of water flanked by forested hills on one side and rolling farmland on the other. It is one of the reasons that the MECO camp has become a highlight of the academic year. It is a camp to quieten down and slow down, allowing us to rest, reconnect and regenerate. Now that the MECO camp has a rhythm, this being the third gathering, there are stronger connections and collaborations forming within this research group. This year’s camp was a hive of quiet and not-so-quiet activity: reading, writing, making, thinking, sharing, planning, walking, talking and of course eating. MECO members continued and built upon existing collaborations, formed new connections and planned future projects. Some of these projects are:
- Jo Law and Agnieszka Golda: Workshopping their contribution to Bundanon’s Siteworks
- Su Ballard, Joshua Lobb, Cath McKinnon: Developing a project on “learning to write” a critical reflection on non-fiction practices.
- Brogan Bunt, Lucas Ihlein and Kim Williams, with guest contributor Eva Hampel: Walking Upstream: Waterways of the Illawarra
- Louise Boscacci, Su Ballard, Eva Hampel in collaboration with Bridie Lonie (Otago University, via Skype) worked on content for a forthcoming panel, Affect, Capital, and Aesthetics: Critical Climate Change and Art History, to be convened at the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) Conference, The Work of Art, ANU, December 2016.
Emerging from this year’s camp is a whole-of-MECO project: we are planning to produce a book/object using the term ‘Atmosphere’ to frame the collaborative work. The idea came from a fruitful roundtable discussion, a product of the cumulative experience of three winter camps over the past three years since the inaugural CAST (Contemporary Arts and Social Transformation) in 2014.
A big thanks to those whose hard work and careful planning makes this camp happen. Special thanks this year to Jo Stirling, whose menu planning, co-ordination and mammoth shopping trip provided us with fresh, healthy food for thought.
We are really excited to announce that MECO is working with the Space, Place and Country research cluster from Sydney College of the Arts, and Cementa Inc. to stage Futurelands II, a public forum to take place in Kandos, NSW, November 11 to 13, 2016. The weekend will bring together artists, academics, agricultural innovators, ecological scientists, environmental activists, Indigenous custodians and the broader community to explore our changing relationship to land and the emerging art forms that are engaging with it. Among the confirmed speakers is Bunarong, Tasmanian and Yuin man, Bruce Pascoe, whose historical account of pre-contact Indigenous farming practices and aquaculture, Dark Emu, was recently awarded NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Book of the Year.
Futurelands II will also mark the establishment of the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation (KSCA), a collaboration between Alex Wisser, Ian Milliss, Lucas Ihlein, Diego Bonetto, Gilbert Grace and SPC member, SCA’s postdoctoral fellow Laura Fisher. Having recently been awarded an Australia Council grant, KSCA’s first project will be a landed artists’ residency that grants artists who work with ecological phenomena and agricultural innovation access to land to make long term projects. Gilbert Grace (SCA MFA) will be resident artist at Maloo in 2016/2017, a farm that is currently being rehabilitated by farmer and educator, Stuart Andrews, using the Natural Sequence Farming method developed by his father Peter Andrews. Grace will be growing a crop of hemp for the production of hempcrete, an alternative to concrete, formerly the key industry of Kandos.
Information about KSCA and Futurelands II will be updated on http://cementa.com.au/ and http://ksca.land/. If you are interested in attending Futurelands II or want further information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. MECO contacts for this event are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 4th March 2016 we held the MECO picnic, a chance for members of the network to share recent projects and plan for the year’s activities. We discussed the involvement of members of the network with international conferences, and celebrated the successes of 2015. We resolved to expand the listings of people on the MECO blog to highlight the participation and input of HDR students. We extended our congratulations to Lucas Ihlein for his DECRA.
Future plans include
- a make do workshop focused on critical and creative use of drone technology
- the third MECO research camp that will examine Future Archaeology
- a collaboration with Cementa in Kandos to hold a public forum ‘in the field’
From the Wollongong Botanic Garden website:
Succulent Collection #8
The diverse selection of succulents primarily from Africa and America provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor functions all year round in the clearing between the Dryland Mound and the Succulent Mound. A massed display of Mesembryanthemum makes a stunning presentation in spring and summer, with Aloes flowering profusely from June to August.
In partnership with the FEMINIST RESEARCH NETWORK, MECO has invited Dr Yvette Watt to present a lecture on her current research, all welcome.
10 February 2016 10.15am research hub, bldg 19, UOW
Animal Factories and Anti-Duck-Shooting: Negotiating Academia as an Activist Artist
Dr Yvette Watt
This paper will begin by giving an overview of a major art project that involved photographing large- scale industrial animal farms around Australia from publicly accessible vantage points. The images aimed to capture the ‘internment’ or ‘concentration’ camp style layout of these industrial farms, with the total absence of animals in the imagery serving to highlight the hidden and secretive nature of the unnatural and restricted environment endured by the animals housed inside the windowless sheds. The Animal Factories project, which received research funding through the University of Tasmania, pursued an ongoing interest in the role of art in communicating issues surrounding the ethics of human-animal relations. However, the intersection of art, activism and academia can provide challenges – a matter that will be addressed through a discussion of a project that I am currently working on, which involves staging a performance of Swan Lake at the opening of duck shooting season in Tasmania. While the two projects differ dramatically in their methodologies, both are concerned with visibility and invisibility; of the animals, of the farming/hunting practices, and of the projects’ profiles within the academy. The paper closes by speculating on whether it is possible for the “artivist” academic to resist the kind of institutional compliance that can deaden the creative response to animal suffering.
Yvette Watt is a Lecturer in Fine Art at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania, where she also completed a MFA and a PhD. She is a committee member of Minding Animals Australia and Co-Director of the UTAS Faculty of the Arts Environment Research Group. Yvette’s art practice spans 30 years. She has held numerous solo exhibitions and has been the recipient of a number of grants and awards. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections including Parliament House, Canberra, Artbank and the Art Gallery of WA. Yvette has been actively involved in animal advocacy since the mid-1980s, including being a founder of Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania, and her artwork is heavily informed by her activism. She is a contributor to and co-editor (along with Carol Freeman and Elizabeth Leane) of the collection titled Considering Animals: Contemporary Studies in Human-Animal Relations (Ashgate, 2011). Other essays by Yvette include ‘Artists, Animals and Ethics’ in Antennae (2011, issue 19) and ‘Animal Factories: Exposing Sites of Capture’ in Captured: The Animal Within Culture (Palgrave McMillian, 2014, edited by Melissa Boyde).
MON 14 SEP // 10:30am – 2:00pm
The UoW Animal Rights Society is hosting the Animal Cruelty Free Festival on Monday 14th of September on the Duckpond Lawn.
- Animals Australia
- Animal Liberation NSW
- The Cruelty Free Shop
- AYCC UOW
- Animal Welfare League NSW (Illawarra Branch)
- Oscar’s Law
- UOW Yoga and Meditation Club
Join this event on on Facebook.