Welcome to Big hART GOLD
What is the GOLD Project?
Could farming families be Australia’s first refugees of climate change? If we are witnessing significant changes in rural communities, then these changes in our narrative must be documented. With these changes come a multitude of social impacts on health, education, and employment as well as the more widespread implications caused by low crop yields and reduced livestock.
GOLD aims to include in national debate these perspectives of farming families who experience the effects of these changes first hand.
The website name www.au.org.au was inspired by "au" being the chemical symbol for gold as well as being the abbreviation for Australia.
For Australian farming families, water is gold.
At a time when crops are failing and harvest yields are low, Big hART GOLD has experienced growth in the relationships and generosity of farming families and rural communities.
Is Australia drying or drowning? Are we in the grip of accelerated climate change or is this just a normal weather pattern that we haven’t previously experienced? Is Mother Nature leading us along the right path or down the garden path?
There is continual debate in the media and amongst politicians, scientists and other specialists aiming to examine issues of climate change and water and their effects on Australia’s economy and environment. Alongside this debate, using multiple art forms, the GOLD Project examines these same issues and their effects on both personal narratives and on the narrative of this country.
GOLD is a long-term cultural project coordinated by award winning arts and social change company Big hART. The project has brought together artists and young people on the margin of their community with farming families from across the Murray-Darling Basin.
Since 2006 Big hART's team of photographers, filmmakers, designers and young people have been invited by farmers to spend time on their properties. Together they have collaborated on works of art that reveal the experiences and emotional weather of those Australians directly facing the consequences of climate change.
During this time some unique relationships have developed with farming families from Talgarno, Boree Creek, Rand, Mildura, Wentworth, Nangiloc, Griffith, Trundle, Taralga Springs, Stanthorpe and Goondiwindi.
Bringing these people together through a process of collecting and telling stories has enhanced their sense of connection and community.
An interest in the narratives that shape this nation is at the forefront of all of Big hART’s work.
Could farming families be Australia’s first refugees of climate change?
Much of Australia’s cultural identity has been shaped by the pioneers who opened up this country for agriculture, and subsequently by those who have farmed the land since. The expression a nation built on the sheep’s back is testimony to that.With the onset of climate change there is a suggestion that agriculture in this country may be at a crossroads.
|On the Ground|
|Big hART started talking with rural communities in 2003 with the aim of locating suitable project partners. In 2004 Griffith City Council invited Big hART to come and work with local young people.|
The young people most in need of support in Griffith were identified as those falling out of mainstream
|education due to a variety of issues including self-harming behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and homelessness. There is often little community response to these issues until individuals come to the attention of the judiciary.|
Interestingly many farming families
|experience similar issues. Despite differing backgrounds and initial problems, despite difference in age and experience, there is common ground between the two groups. |
The GOLD Project asks what would happen if these two groups were brought together?
|Is it possible to|
work with two vastly different groups of people experiencing similar social impacts? By doing this could the process of engagement for both groups be enhanced? And could this engagement go on to facilitate some mutually beneficial relationships that might stretch beyond the project’s duration?