20th of September, 2018
This is it. Weeks to months of hard work has paid off. Our job here is done.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Introducing…
BRAHMAN: THE SACRED COW
Brahman: The Sacred Cow is a visual investigation of the issues of sustainability and food security in the Horticulture industry. Our artwork aligns the nourishment of the body with the nourishment of the soul.
Brahman: The Sacred Cow utilises the visual conventions of religion to celebrate the agricultural enterprise of horticulture, specifically, its capacity to sustain our world’s population. The opulent installation worships horticulture as a much needed saviour to some of Australia’s environmental and agricultural issues. Religion is defined as ‘a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion’. By emphasising this concept within our artwork, the audience will be inspired to realise the significance of the horticultural industry, as well as their own responsibility in feeding Australia, and encourage them to support the industry along with organic, plant-based products.
Hinduism is a religion that embraces horticulture through its vegetarian ideals. Our artwork’s conceptual practice is heavily influenced by Hindu culture. This is evident in the cow’s name: “Brahman: The Sacred Cow”. Brahman is the name for the ‘Supreme Spirit’, believed to be by many Hindus the one true god. It describes the life force present in all living things and encompasses all things male, female, and animal. However, it is also the name for a Zebu cattle breed, introduced into Australia in 1933: now thriving in northern areas of the country where other breeds fail to survive. Brahman are seen as symbols of strength and survival. Furthermore, the cow is considered sacred in Hinduism. These connections emphasise the cow’s portrayal as sacred, and in turn, something that should not be consumed. This aligns to the significance of horticulture and the Hindu principles of total non-violence and the protection of Mother Earth.
Our cow: Brahman; The Sacred Cow is treated like a god. The meticulous layers of intricate patterns and the embellishment of the form using jewellery alludes to representations of deities and is indicative of the glorification and celebration of horticultural products in our society. It is adorned with a limited palette of teal and gold; not only is it representative of plants and beauty, but the combination of green and gold flawlessly symbolises its Australian identity. The simplicity of this restrained palette allows the intricate detail to gleam, just like the underestimated yet vital practices of horticulture.
Our equally refined shrine, adorned with a plethora of golden fruits and vegetables, serves as the perfect accompaniment to the sacred cow. Immediately, it places these plant-based products in a position of objects worthy of worship and admiration; not only for its beauty but also its nutritional value. Fruit and vegetables have a long history as symbolic inclusions in traditional artworks as well as religious mythological narratives: representing ideas such as the transient nature of life, bounty and fertility. In many cultures, apples symbolise wisdom, lemons symbolise fertility, and peaches symbolizes immortality. Simply spray painting these objects gold immediately emphasises these values for the audience. The cornucopia, from which these fruits and vegetables are poured, symbolises abundance. This is a reflection of the power of horticulture in producing copious quantities of fresh healthy produce that can address the burden of Australia’s issues regarding poverty and food security.
The intrinsic value of horticulture cannot remain underappreciated, and our artwork supports this by spilling gold and beauty into what can be perceived as bland. By equating luxury and decadence with the sustainable power of horticulture, the audience will embrace a fresh perspective and hopefully be inspired to contribute to the solutions that horticulture offers for Australia’s current environmental and agricultural issues.
Hinduism became the focus of our representation following a broad investigation of religion. This allowed us to appropriate the myriad of patterns and features and incorporate them into the horticultural content of our design. We also drew from aspects of the vegetarian lifestyle and the more celebratory perspective to aid us in our design of the cow, cart and shrine.
The artwork design was influenced by common components of Hinduism, such as jewellery and fabric. Indian jewellery, specifically bridal jewellery, was used as a reference to inspire and influence the drawn designs. Using Indian jewellery as a reference helped to effectively translate the intricacy and detail onto the design. The neck designs resembled a multi-layered necklace, the ankles designs resembled anklets and the design of the head of the cow referenced Indian jewellery. Additionally, nose rings and earrings were made, which were connected with a golden chain, much like traditional pieces from India.
Other designs were influenced by the patterns prevalent on Indian fabrics. Sarees, Indian wedding dresses and Langas, a traditional Indian dress, were studied. The sheer quality of fabric and detailed patterns influenced the designs. Paintings also included elements of nature, usually in the form of a flower or trees. To emphasise the theme of horticulture, patterns of fruits and vegetables were incorporated into the detailed designs.
The composition of the designs was influenced by actual cows in India and Hinduism adorned with bright, colourful fabrics and covered in jewellery. These animals are dressed as a sign of affection and reverence as they are seen as a symbol of life. For example, inspiration came from the headpieces, necklaces, anklets and the draped fabric that the cows wear on their backs. However, to portray the cow as luxurious, rich, sophisticated and grand, the colour palette was limited to gold and rich dark teal. The gold was influenced by its synonymity to wealth and luxury which was used to portray the richness of fruits and vegetables in terms of their nutritional value and their abundance as an agricultural product. The dark teal was used for its symbolic link to nature and plants, and thus horticulture. Furthermore, the combination of gold and green linked to Australian which is often referred to as the land of green and gold.
The humble food cart is transformed into a sacred site. A shrine for the worship of produce that nurtures and fuels our bodies. The cart-like structure is laden with mounds of fresh fruit. The shrine is heavily influenced by the infrastructure and design traits of traditional Hindu shrines. The fabric draping over cart was directly inspired from palanquins often seen in not only Hindu, but other Asian cultures too. The fruit, vegetables and shrine are painted gold to further showcase the beauty and richness of fruits and vegetables. Combining the idea of a palanquin and cart elevates the concept of worship associated with the shrine, while creating a closer connection to its audience as a familiar item.
WHAT MAKES YOUR ARCHIE UNIQUE?
Brahman: The Sacred Cow is unique due to the intricacy of design and of its cultural influences. It is more than what it seems on the surface, with each design detailing a story that flows along the body of the cow. Our vision is a strong celebration and honours the enterprise of Horticulture. The nourishment of the population and the fulfilment of health and wealth in our society is central to the piece. Our theme connects culture, religion, art and agriculture. It directly alludes to the multicultural population in our local community and recognises our responsibilities as global citizens.
The material practices employed in the installation Brahman: The Sacred Cow also emphasises the concept of abundance; every aspect from the patterns and symbols to the cornucopia express the wealth of food and the health and happiness it provides. The golden cart holding the beautiful collections and displays of the fruits and flowers further clarifies true beauty of horticulture.
Our artwork augments the true value of the cow by using gold as a symbol of wealth, luxury and decadence. This adds to the artwork’s unique qualities, as it contrasts strongly the traditional notions of a cow. The earthly connotations associated with horticulture and produce is effectively elevated to a spiritual level.