Art on Milk Bottles 2001
Jo Darbyshire and Rebecca Sheardown collaborated with other Perth artists Andrew Nicholls, Allesandra Rossi, Indra Geidans, Annie Q Medley, Alessandra Rossi and Julie Dowling to produce Art on Milk Bottles- labels which promoted positive messages about Art to the general population, in February 2001.
Background to the project
The aims of the Milkmaids project were to create positive messages about art and get them going out all over the state on milk containers, and to connect ordinary people in the community to art and to provide an opportunity for artists to feel that they make a difference to the community
Nearly everybody in WA, even those in a remote areas sees a milk carton or container sometime during the day, and many people glance at the messages written on the labels.We realized what an exciting visual experience they could be...
In September 2000 seven local Perth artists formed a group, the ‘Milkmaids’, to implement this project. They expected no payment for their work. They saw it as an opportunity for them to inspire their own community and make a difference to the way art is perceived in the general community.
For sometime it was obvious to them that there had been a lack of awareness about art and artists in the community. We had been under attack from a federal government who called the arts ‘elite’ and yet we felt art was as important and as common as milk in people’s lives. For the Milkmaids, there was a possibility for the connection between milk and art to be made; that people needed both sustenance and creativity in their lives everyday.
(*See articles such as Advance Australia? who pays the price for culture, Pat Hoffie, NAVA Newsletter, March 1998, Tyranny of Difference isolates WA art, David Bromfield, West Australian, July 22,2000, and Art students learn another way of seeing, Jennifer McMahon, The Australian, November 1999, and Art of luck, something is seriously wrong in the visual arts world, Benjamin Genocchio, The Australian, August 26, 2000)
For 3 months research took place in regards to approaching the different dairies in WA for this project.
It was a very turbulent time for the dairy industry and it was with some relief for the group, that Kevin Sorgiovanni Managing Director, Harvey Fresh Milk, Harvey, became interested in the idea.
At this time Harvey Fresh was the only totally Western Australian owned, family business in Western Australia and they could see the benefit of this unique opportunity to do something totally unexpected, to surprise the consumers with a new visual look, by carrying an extra art message on their labels. It could also be a marketing advantage for Harvey Fresh but would be perceived by the general community as a community service.
Harvey Fresh agreed to support the project and in March 2001 Harvey Fresh made available half of their label space for six different labels, with art messages, to go out on 90,000 bottles of the 1 litre milk container, each week, for three consecutive weeks. The artists worked to specifications given to them by Ian Parkes from Label Power in Malaga who produce labels for Harvey Fresh.
Harvey Fresh Milk is distributed to Coles and Woolworth’s Supermarkets all over Western Australia and many smaller supermarket chains like Supa Valu.
In September 2000 the Milkmaids applied for a Strategic Marketing Grant from the WA Ministry of Culture, to assist with label production, marketing costs and a small administration fee. They were successful in their Application and received $18,000 for the project.
Assistant manager Public Relations and marketing Caron Irwin and Marketing and Public Relations Officer Cherie Hardingham-Braid came on board to assist in promoting the project.
The artists did not seek Artists Fees. The reasons for this are that in this instance they did not feel that they were involved in a commercial transaction and they wanted to make a contribution to the general community in the same way that many people contribute freely to the positive promotion of sport. However they do think it is important that artists are paid for any further work with Harvey Fresh and that their work is copyrighted.
Positive generic messages about art were aimed at target audiences over the three-week project:
1. ‘brand new culture’ featured a pink cow which changed stylistically from a traditional etching to a digitally remixed abstract, was used as the project logo.
2. Contemporary art was highlighted and the general population was reminded of the enormous contribution the arts make to culture with ‘art-as common as milk and bread, get into some fresh stuff’.
3. The important role artists play in creating a sense of community was shown through Julie Dowling’s’ message ‘artists tell our stories’, which showed a huge boab tree used as a prison for aboriginal prisoners near Derby in the north west of the state.
4. The importance of art to children was emphasised with the message ‘art starts young’ – featuring a colourful child’s drawing, aimed at young children and their parents.
5. Young people were also targeted with the messages as ‘When I grow up I want to be an artist’ and
6.‘artists make a difference’.
7. Youth was targeted with the message ‘art makes you think for yourself’.
The milkmaids publicised the project by holding a Public Launch in Forrest Place, in the centre of Perth, on Saturday March 31st 2001 from 10am to 12 am.
At the launch Harvey Fresh provided milkshakes free to passers-by and milkmaids wearing pink cow T-shirts gave out 2,000 fridge magnets free to promote the message brand new culture.
The newly appointed Minister for Culture and the Arts the Honorable Sheila McHale opened the launch and Jo Darbyshire and Kevin Sorgiovanni also gave speeches.
Artists supplied a large material banner and paints and passers-by and children were invited to help paint a variety of pink cows to celebrate the occasion. This was very successful with over 500 people participating.