Key Terms:

citizenship: Belonging to a community or group, citizenship in the context often used in everyday life is an engagement in this community – working to make it better.

change agents: A person who works towards changing an organisation for the better, improving its effectiveness and way of working, person can be either from inside or outside the organisation. In terms of dairy industry this could be working to change Fontera’s ideals or farmers way of operating to make them more enviro-friendly.

cultural critics: Someone who looks disagrees with common cultural conceptions, ie most people believe eating animals is culturally acceptable and normalized, people who are vegetarians or vegans are often cultural critics of this idea.

protest: A statement or action that expresses objection to a point or issue. In terms of visual texts could be anything in the form or an infographic to a painting.

agency: An organisation that works on behalf of another group and example of this is Fontera who represent the interests of hundreds of NZ farmers.

social responsibility: The idea that everyone has an ethical responsibility to the economy and the ecosystem of where they live- similar to sense of citizenship.

transformative practices: Practices that examine a social/economic/environmental issue and aims to change this. Similar to visual activism, without the focus on specific visual change.

Possible Quotes/Research:

“As artists, architects, and writers, we approached these issues through our own creative practices, using data and resources from the natural and social sciences in supporting roles”

“The Rillito River Project fuses art and science to create ephemeral environmental installations and performance events on a dry riverbed site in Arizona. Inaugurated in 2007 by an international group of artists, architects, musicians, writers, builders and anthropologists, the goal of the Rillito River Project is to raise awareness of the devastating effects of global climate change on the vanishing rivers of the Southwest.”

“Aims to create public awareness about the importance of water conservation… and to frame water education in a way that emphasizes the importance of native plants and animals.”

McMahon, Ellen, Ander Monson, and Beth Weinstein. Ground/water: The Art, Design, and Science of a Dry River. Vol. 1. Arizona: Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, 2012. Print.

Good example of another visual activism project with similar ideals as mine. Focus on artistic engagement with the community and range on artistic perspectives to tackle the issue.  Blending artistic/fine arts ideas with scientific ideas.

Central Plains Water Scheme: gives $650 million to Canterbury economy and 2800 jobs.

divided public opinion as public was not consulted on decision

350 million cubic meters of groundwater per year – Canterbury

Scheme was orginally intended to diverse farming products, sheep, beef, chicken, crops etc but now has an over reliance on dairy farming

Generic Canterbury sheep farmer income:

Dryland: $1200/ha

Limited irrigation: $3000/ha

Full irrigation: $7500/ha

Dairying in area Canterbury region:

1995: 63000 ha

2004: 146000 ha

Dairy cow population increased 287% to 592,745 in 2007 Canterbury.

agriculture= 65% of NZ exports

farming= 55% of NZ land area

86% of NZ population identifies as urban

4% identifies as farmers


Ivamy, Dean. Mapping the Environmental Footprint of the Central Plains Water Irrigation Scheme. Wellington: Massey, 2009. Print.
Clear facts of increase in dairy farming in the Canterbury Region.
Cow Numbers per hectare have increased by 15% – mainly due to being sustained by off farm feeding being brought in, grain etc and increase in nitrate based fertilizer brought in – this can lead to excess fertilizer runoff into waterways
Link increased farming to increased nitrate levels.
18-24% of all dairy farms have been found to be in ‘serious non-comliance’ with their consent obligations to the environment.
Foote, Kyleisa Jade. “The cost of milk: Environmental deterioration vs. Profit in the New Zealand dairy industry.” 2014. Web. 6 June 2016.
General fact of dairy farming.
Characteristics of spring-fed plains waterways
High intensity land use.
Low rainfall, stable flow regime.
Nitrate-nitrogen concentrations exceed toxicity trigger values at many sites.
Turbidity and suspended sediment results generally good.
Faecal contamination is a significant issue
Poor land management practices, including stock access to streams and springs, excessive irrigation and fertiliser application, lack of riparian buffers and poor effluent disposal.
Barriers to fish passage and reduced habitat for fish and invertebrates from channel modification and culverts.
Fine sediment inputs from bank erosion and re-suspension as a result of poor macrophyte clearance practices.
Land development in areas of springs and wetlands.
Stevenson, Michele, Taryn Wilks, and Shirley Hayward. An Overview of the State and Trends in Water Quality of Canterbury’s Rivers and Streams. 2011. Web. 6 June 2016.
Linking irrigation and fertilizer application to poor water quality in streams and springs in the Canterbury plains.
Above is a good article about the sanity of NZ rivers – good for how this issue is depicted by the media. Quite an educational piece and ways up both point of views, getting farmers perspectives… “President Bruce Wills said the figures showed that over a decade, 90 per cent of the sites tested were either stable or improving. ” Fontera. and perspectives from the Green Party… “Subsidising irrigation will lead to increasing land use intensification – putting more animals and fertiliser on our land – and the science is absolutely clear that this leads to increased water pollution.” Greens
This is also a good video and article that talks about abuse in the dairy industry, focusing mainly of animal cruelty but also touches on environmental concerns.
In my visual activism project I want to incorporate the ideas of the Rillito River Project, incorporating the blend of scientific ideas and artistic interpretation and expression of those idea. I also want to create a painting/ fine arts visual text that would likely go as part of a collection, as in my research of visual texts and activism for my issue I cannot find any paintings that bring Canterbury water quality issues to attention.
Most of the sources of ‘visual activism’ around dirty dairy is just photographic evidence and lengthy thesis and reports about the issue. There is hardly any paintings/ traditional fine art works about this issue, this could be because people think it would be unsuccessful as a form of visual activism or it could be a gap in the market place to be exploited.
Visual Workbook:

Some brainstorming and development of ideas. Most ideas focus on people’s relationship with water.  With the intention of creating an artwork that is more fine art style painting rather than gorilla marketing work.

Taken photographs that could be used as inspiration for final, I like the closeness to figure in second photo, but the background in first.

IMG_1556[1]First direction- wanted to create a water colour affect that mirrored the idea of water in rivers being polluted- but decided the colours too distracting from the message and want to put the fugure in the environment more.

Paterson, Jacob. “Morning Glass of Milk”. 2016. Acrylic on Canvas.

Final: Created a monotonous background and figure to make the ‘river’  stand out more, put figure in an average environment, warm colours to make figure seem in a comforting environment. Contrast between the 2 colour palettes. Used skull and crossbones imagery to nail home the point about milk biproducts being poison to the environment, as the milk in this painting represents the nitrates and phosphates that the industry leaks into rivers.