The Living Classroom, Bingara

The Living Classroom, Bingara

An artist, a farmer & a scientist walk into a bar… is a major creative arts initiative challenging and changing the relationships we have with land.

Since early 2018, nine artists have embarked on ambitious collaborations with farmers, scientists, Aboriginal knowledge holders, chefs and rural innovators. The initiative has emerged from the regional NSW towns of Kandos and Bingara, and our collaborations are reaching into other locations including Mudgee, Inverell, Hartley, Sydney and even rural Victoria and the Gold Coast. The Living Classroom in Bingara, an innovative public education farm on 150 hectares of land that was formally the town commons, is an important site for our collaborations and residencies.

A snapshot of “An Artist, A Farmer, and a Scientist Walk into a Bar”. This video was created in October 2018, by Justin Hewitson.

Each of the artists’ projects has a unique focus (wild foods, solar energy, Aboriginal agriculture, biochar...) and all are anchored by strong engagement with regenerative models of farming, rural/urban interactions, and the potential of arts-led collaborations to inspire fresh approaches to the environmental challenges we face today.

You can find a short introductory video about the project here.

Our artists are blogging about their ideas and experiences as they go. You can find out about the 8 projects if you scroll to the bottom of this page, or click on the artists’ names: Georgie Pollard, Imogen Semmler, Alex Wisser, Diego Bonetto, Karla Dickens, Lucas Ihlein, Mark Swartz, Jono Bolitho, Laura Fisher.

2018 was filled with events and workshops, including:

  • The project launch dinner and theatre extravaganza. This was hosted by Bingara’s Northwest Theatre Company who staged an hilarious play based on our project concept, with wild-food themed dishes prepared by the Friends of Touriandi in collaboration with Diego Bonetto and organic meat provided by farmer collaborator Glenn Morris. Find our video doco here, and read blog reports here and here.

  • The Carbon Science: Carbon Culture workshop weekend with adults and students from Bingara Central School. Find our video doco here, blog reports here and here.

  • The Wildfood.store foraging workshops - read Diego’s blogs here and here.

  • Georgie Pollard’s exhibition at the 2018 Australia New Zealand biochar conference - read Georgie’s blog here.

  • humus:human at Siteworks in Bundanon - read Jono Bolitho’s blog here.

And so far 2019 has been very busy also:

  • In February, the exhibition ‘Uncertain Territory’, curated by painter Halinka Orszulok opened at Artbank. Georgie Pollard’s The Long Sleep took the long journey from Bingara to part of the show, and Alex Wisser also presented a work (about a hole).

  • Also in February, in extreme heat and as terrible fires burned in nearby Tinga, Karla Dickens worked with Brendan Blacklock, Uncle Bruce Pascoe and children from Bingara Central School to make footage for her short film ‘Mother’s Little Helpers’. Have a look here.

  • Lucas Ihlein’s project with Allan Yeomans was part of an exhibition at Monash University’s MUMA in Melbourne called ‘Shapes of Knowledge’. There was a farm tour and a fascinating roundtable discussion on the Carbon Economy, and plenty of dirt being baked in the gallery. There’s a unique website for this project here, but you can also read Lucas’ posts here and here.

  • On April 28, Erika and Hayden of Epicurean Harvest partnered with us to host the ‘art and farming picnic’ and tour at their farm Bula Mirri in Hartley. Erika, Hayden, artist Mark Swartz and solar scientist Bjorn Sturmberg introduced the crowd to their collective vision of a ‘solar garden’, while Allan Giddy shared his perspective as an artist with much experience using renewable energy technologies. You can find Alex’s and Bjorn’s reflections here and here.

  • In May there was the KSCA ‘Art Farming and Cultural Change’ exhibition at Lyttleton Stores, an incredible cooperative in Lawson with a ‘mission to connect customers, makers, and growers, encouraging conscious, ethical, local economies as well as transitioning to a no-waste, lower energy future’. You can read about the exhibition and opening event here, and watch a video of the panel discussion (thank you Fiona Davis!) here.

  • On 18 May, a serendipitous convergence of projects led to KSCA partnering with Kaldor Art Projects. Asad Raza’s soil artwork ‘Absorption’, installed at The Clothing Store at Carriageworks, will provide an amazing environment for landscape architect, educator and host Costa Georgiadis to sit at the “bar” with artist Ian Milliss, farmer Erika Watson (Epicurean Harvest), scientist Tim Cavagnaro (University of Adelaide) and Imogen Semmler (artist, emerging scientist and farmer) to discuss their diverse collaborative projects and the intersections between the three disciplines. At the time of writing this hadn’t happened yet, let’s hope someone remembers to update this text!

The AFS project will culminate in a public forum at The Living Classroom in Bingara on 7 - 8 September, called Groundswell - click here for info. There will also be an exhibition that will be an integral part of the Cementa festival in Kandos, November 21 - 24, 2019. Then we’ll roll all our discoveries into a newspaper publication (a bit like this one) to keep these important conversations going.

An artist, a farmer & a scientist walk into a bar… is an initiative of the art collective KSCA (Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation), and builds upon KSCA’s successful 2016 event Futurelands2. It is being staged in partnership with Cementa Inc., The Living Classroom, Starfish Initiatives and Arts North West, and has been generously funded by a Regional Partnerships Grant from Create NSW.