Really great news this week for the Sugar vs the Reef? project, as we began working with the Mackay Botanical Gardens towards a big work of land art – a crop of sugar cane and sunflowers – a collaboration between artists, farmers, horticulturalists, Mackay locals, and members of the Australian South Sea Islander Community.
Situating this agricultural action at the Botanical Gardens gives us the chance to carry out a concrete case study of farming as a cultural practice, drawing attention to the complexity of sugar cane farming and its central role in this region.
Also it’s great to have connected with Starrett Vea Vea from the Australian South Sea Islander House at the Botanical Gardens – Starrett is interested in encouraging members of his community to use this collaborative work to tap into their own history as indentured labourers in the cane industry. 2017 marks 150 years since people from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands were ‘blackbirded’ to Queensland as workers to establish the sugar cane industry.