The struggles of rural communities suggest the fragility of an Australian identity in which land and those who work the land play a vital symbolic role. Technology is affecting industries in rural Australia. Employment opportunities is pulling younger generations towards urban centers, away from farms. This is changing regional towns where socio-economic shifts are inextricably linked to the environment.
In 2016, I travelled Parkes to meet an arts collective whose members are from Central NSW and the Philippines. Two of these artists are the Orr brothers who run the above mentioned family farm. This initial visit preceded the harvest season. When the harvest began, I was invited back to document the harvest. I spent several weekends filming the brothers on the farm as they worked on the harvest.
In a regional context, those who are manipulating the land are those who live off the land. Those who are living on the land depend on it for their livelihood. These include farmers, laborers, construction workers, property developers, among others. Even on a relatively small scale farm, the brothers are faced with the contradictions of farming while still trying to live somewhat harmoniously with the land. Chris Orr is a farmer, musician and music teacher. He discusses his relationship with the land and the destructive nature of farming.
The inherent connection of the Wuradjuri language to the land signifies their ties places. "The manipulation of the land, changes the meaning of the word" says Lionel Lovett, a Wiradjuri man and language teacher at the Wiradjuri Language Group in Parkes. He explains how the meaning of Wiradjuri words are changes when land is developed.
Harvest coincides with a radio documentary I started working on at the end of 2016. I spent several weekends in Central NSW in Australia to conduct interviews and film the harvest. This work is part of my on-going search in bringing journalism and art together, in this case, adding a more prominent visual narrative rather than text-based work.
The focus on the harvest sheds light on the complexity between economic progress, or simply financial viability, and identity. While this deviates from my initial focus on the Parkes-based Filipino-Australian arts collective, I realized that despite their differences, the Philippines and Australia are places with an intrinsic connection to place. And when the land is manipulated, people change to adapt to that process of manipulation.