Field Trip! A letter to growers in FNQ.

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Dear Madam / Sir,

I’m writing to let you know about an exhibition at Cairns Art Gallery, opening in late November 2018. The exhibition will be an installation of current, local fruit and vegetable cartons from Far North Queensland, as a way to tell stories of this region through one of its main industry’s artwork.

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100 cartons, 100 days.

In May of this year I will be conducting a field trip to Far North Queensland, the main purpose of which will be to gather fruit and vegetable cartons and stories, in preparation for an exhibition at Cairns Art Gallery in November 2018. There are 104 days between now and then, and so (almost) every day a carton from the collection will be posted on my Instagram from that region.

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Dicky Bill

Dicky BillThe Dicky Bill carton is one that I have had since I started collecting fruit cartons. It is an atypical carton, with a simple, cute echidna giving the thumbs up. I had always thought that Dicky Bill was the echidna’s name, however it is the abbreviated nickname of the late Richard William Barnard, a 3rd generation lettuce farmer whose farming legacy lives on through his son, Ryan McLeod and business partner Hugh Reardon. Dicky Bill now specialises in salad (mesclun, spinach and wild rocket).

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The Art Department

DisneylandRecently I had the opportunity to visit the art department at Orora Fibre Packaging (previously Amcor) in Brisbane, which is responsible for some of the most recognisable fruit carton designs in the industry. I was the guest of Camille Giacca who had seen an article in Smith Journal about Cartonography some months before and recognised some very familiar cartons and it wasn’t long before we were communicating. Interestingly enough I had been in touch with the art department at Orora about 18 months prior to ask them questions about fruit cartons. Perhaps it was my odd inquisitive enthusiasm, or perhaps it was because nobody else had asked, but Camille admitted that at the time they had wondered whether I was pulling their legs…

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Prairies, Postcards, Islands, Fantasies.

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Image: Paddy’s Green Bananas, an example of a prairie landscape.

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In the Cartonography collection I consider each carton to be a conveyor of not only produce but potentially some other meaning, truth or idea. This may be a little wishful. It is only packaging after all; mass produced, delivered, used (once in most cases), transported again, and again, and then recycled to make other cartons. The life-cycle and journeys of a fruit carton is a fascinating thing and will one day be the centre of some of my research, but for now my concerns are focused on the designs that adorn these transient devices, and whether they can tell us something. Each carton has a design. Some are complex, some are humorous, some are garish and others are quite boring. Cartonography does not discriminate in collecting. It is a process that is interested in all fruit cartons and the possibility of each to contribute to a possible understanding of the landscape we are all part of in someway. Continue reading “Prairies, Postcards, Islands, Fantasies.”

Farmers and their cartons in FNQ.

It only really occurred to me late on the second day of the FNQ trip to get photographs of each of the farmers holding their fruit cartons, but I’m glad I got the ones I did. Thanks very much to all the folks who gave their precious time to a strange blow-in who collects lids. Thank you all for your good humour and generous hospitality, and I hope to visit you again soon (next time with a video camera).
DSC_0641 copyNoel Stevenson with a stack of his SUPER BANANAS. I arrived just as the truck pulled in to collect his load. I also like the colour of Stevo’s forklift.

Continue reading “Farmers and their cartons in FNQ.”