The Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation is a tiny art school with big ambitions. It was established to cultivate the understanding of art as any activity that brings about cultural change and reforms our understanding of the world. Working on the assumption that art should be a spur for cultural evolution, KSCA provides a platform for evolutionary play across industrial, social and cultural domains. We aim to develop and publicise creative propositions for change, sharing knowledge through practical, real world experience and invention.
Where does a name like ‘Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation’ come from? It had its first day in the sun at the Cementa Festival in 2013. Ian Milliss’ work for the festival was “Welcome to Kandos” a poster presenting a number of fictional projects, ambitious and highly innovative, as an alternative history for the town of Kandos.
Here is the poster:
Emboldened by Ian’s lead, fellow Cementa artist Gilbert Grace proposed manifesting these fictions in real terms for the Cementa 17 festival. This meshed well with Alex Wisser’s expressed desire to establish a land-based residency for artists who work with land, agricultural innovation, and ecological phenomena. Lucas Ihlein, Diego Bonetto, Laura Fisher, Ann Finegan, Christine McMillan and Georgie Pollard all piled on board, and KSCA was born!
The project didn’t take real shape until we met Stuart Andrews, and began to talk to him about using a bit of his land for the project. Stuart’s father Peter is just a little bit famous for pioneering Natural Sequence Farming, a honed system of agriculture and land regeneration that was invented very close to Kandos – in the Bylong Valley. Stuart is pioneering his own cultural adaptation of his father’s work, restoring Marloo, a highly degraded property outside Kandos using and developing his father’s techniques. In 2016 he is hosting Gilbert Grace’s project The Hemp Initiative, which aims to draw attention to the hemp plant’s remarkable versatility and industrial uses. Grace, in consultation with Klara Marosszeky, Managing Director of Australian Hemp Masonry, and President of the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance, will work with Stuart to raise and harvest a crop of hemp on Marloo. Artwork and evidence based documentation for The Hemp Initiative will be exhibited at Cementa17 in April 2017.
The Hemp Initiative is an ideal pilot project for KSCA. We are hearing a lot about ‘innovation’ at the moment. Natural Sequence Farming is the outcome of decades of research and experimentation with land forms, soil, plants and water. It’s an invention tailored to Australia’s environment that is as important as any of the high-tech inventions that grab the headlines these days. At the same time, industrial hemp has been shown to make manufacturing and building processes and products biodegradable and far less carbon-intensive, and it could give many struggling rural economies a boost. KSCA is bringing these two stories together. What artists are particularly good at is socialising new ideas, and the best manage to make them compelling to a wide audience. With industrial hemp and NSF we have two self-evidently excellent ideas that need very wide application. KSCA wants to see what might happen if we treat such land-based concerns as the terrain for creative practice and cooperation across different fields of expertise, to demonstrate what a more sustainable economic relationship to land might look like.