Pink Pig Project

The Pink Pig Project is a foray into pig-rearing which is intended to inform my practice during my final year at Gray's School of Art, and, hopefully, beyond.

My current practice revolves around the relationship we have with the animals raised for food.
Through work based upon first hand experience and primary research, I wish to celebrate the role of the traditional smallholder in keeping alive the compassion for the animal that is no longer present in mainstream farming.

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Posts tagged "pigs"

Photos from the march visit :) Squealer’s getting big, but Blondie is stealing food from her and Ginger, and growing at an alarming rate… she threw up last week because she had eaten so much! she also has a habit of overturning the water bucket, so squealer and ginger can’t drink. It may sound harsh, but she needs to be slaughtered soon, or else she will be obese and depriving the others of food and water!

At least squealer’s getting on well and putting on weight slowly. Whilst it will be sad to see her go, I can’t wait to sample the home grown bacon! There’s no better reassurance that your food has had a good life than raising it yourself!

This is an idea I came up with on the plane back from London yesterday, whilst reading an ARTBOXmagazine interview with illustrative artist Dan Baldwin.

PAINTING AND PRINTING ON TO OBJECTS:

- Not wanting to make her (the pig) a commercial object. I don’t want to mass-market her image to generate a brand … not like Mrs Tweedy from chicken run…

- I would instead like to explore as many avenues of image communication as possible… Transferring her image to every-day objects and surfaces might be an appropriate way of highlighting the level of integration this project has achieved with my day-to-day existence.
-> applying her image to any object which reminds me of her?
-> the object becomes a trigger for the project.

Painting the pig scenes from sketches I have made on the farm on to commercial wellies would make a statement about the lack of general understanding of what farming entails.
- Hunter and Haviana, for example, have helped transform farmwear in to fashion through their designer wellies.
-> there was a young woman on the flight to London at 9.40 on Friday morning in a Barber Jacket and Hunter Wellies, but I can’t honestly image what farming activities she might encounter on a short-haul, hour-long flight to a farm-less city…
->On the my last trip to the farm, I looked at Hunters in the sales online, having realized the boots I had been using had a hole in and thought it was time for something more hard-waring, but was mocked mercilessly! Apparently, though they may be traditionally recognized as a reliable brand, Hunter are now seen as a fashion brand by ‘proper farmers’ since they have been catering for the aesthetic demands of ‘toon bairns’ (a northern derogatory term for city dwellers)…
-> The rising ‘country chic’ trend is not only impractical for everyday attire, but also would never stand up to the simplest of farming activities, and are a complete joke amongst the farming community.
-> I could never hope to be taken seriously in a pair!

- This would be more prominent if I actually wore the painted wellies on to the farm whilst tending to the pigs? Should I film it? -

I was browsing the sales when up because the wellies I own(ed) were a desperation buy at a festival last summer, and turn out not to be suitable for a damp day in Aberdeen city, let alone an average hour in the pig pen in Wick…
- The impracticality of the fashion wellies and waterproofs is just one of the many things I have learnt so far on the project (and therefore an important lesson to communicate?) 

The pigs rooting around for potatoes :)

I just received these images of my newly purchased pig from George. She’s bigger than I thought she would be, but I don’t mind that at all. At least I will be able to be there for most of her development :)

I am so excited, it’s unreal!

So I’ve had an idea for a big project; something to give greater meaning and depth to my practice.

I’m going to raise a pig.

I didn’t want to start posting until it was set in stone, but after negotiation with a rather enthusiastic small-hold farmer, I’ve managed to secure a location in which to raise a pig. It will be bought and settled in before New Year’s Eve; I can’t wait!

These are the notes I’ve been putting together the last few days. 

RAISING A PIG FOR SLAUGHTER:

  • How much does it cost to raise a pig (or pigs) for food?
  • How long before the pig is ready for slaughter?
  • Which breed would be best? > This may be dependent on time scale, space and budget.

COULD I RAISE A PIG FOR FOOD?

  • Would this give me better knowledge of my subject area - add greater depth to the project?

Just now, I have no real involvement in the subject which fascinates/inspires me; it makes this project feel a little hollow…

Koen Vanmechelen started out as one artist with one chicken and a dream; look what that became…

POTENTIAL PLAN:

PURCHASE PIG > HAVE A HAND IN RAISING IT FOR SLAUGHTER > DOCUMENT THE PROCESS/PROGRESS/ITS DEVELOPMENT > WITNESS SLAUGHTER PROCESS > DOCUMENT SLAUGHTER > WITNESS PIG BEING BUTCHERED > DOCUMENT BUTCHERY PROCESS > COOK/SERVE PIG AT DEGREE SHOW > PRESENT (edited) DOCUMENTATION AND SUBSEQUENT ARTWORKS.

»

Create work as a homage to the smallholder(s) who inspire me and continue to care about their animals, not just the finances, through first hand experience and intimate human/animal contact.

QUESTIONS TO BE ASKED:

  1. Would I find a willing smallholder to collaborate with?
  2. How much would it cost?
  3. What’s the timescale - would I have all I need in time for May (assessment) / June (degree show)
  4. Would good progress and ‘promise of potential’ be enough for the May assessment - or would I have to have slaughtered the pig?
  5. Would it be worth all this?

WHAT’S POTENTIALLY INVOLVED?

  • Monthly trips to document progress - video/photography/Dictaphone, drawing, measurements (facts about growth/progress)
  • Would I keep a dedicated Video/Blog diary?
  • Costs:
  1. Purchase of pig
  2. Maintenance
  3. Travel expenses
  4. Slaughter costs
  5. Emotional costs - potential attachment and subsequent slaughter…

                          _________________________________________

(the breed I will most likely be rearing is the Yorkshire white; a prime pork pig)

Once I had gotten all these considerations down on paper, I set about trying to realize my ambitions. I did some research, and got some realistic costings:

ADVISED COSTINGS:

  • £40/50 per piglet, purchase price
  • 1 feed bag = £10, would take aprox £150 to raise a pig to slaughter
  • Takes 4-6 months to be ready for slaughter, dependent on how big you want your pig
  • Transport to-from location per month = £20 per trip. 20 x 6 = £120
  • Still questioning how much it costs to slaughter a pig (based on weight values)

TIMESCALE:

Say it does take 6months, if we started mid Nov, it would be ‘ready’ mid May, and slaughtered in time for assessment… If not for assessment, it would definitely be ready for the degree show.

NOTES ON FINDINGS:

  • one pig would be enough for my purpose
  • would not have to worry about pig’s paper trail from farm to fridge, as I’m not selling it for commercial gain, though I would be keeping track for documentational purposes…
  • the pig would be legally slaughtered and I would be transporting it in an ice box in steaks, sausages, other cuts
  • This all seems very viable, just need to convince a farmer!

                         ___________________________________________

So, I’ve found a farmer, and she has agreed to purchase an extra piglet with her new batch, late December, and it will be settled in and ready for me to start my monthly nurture by New Year. I will be allowed on to the farm to help raise it and gain experience once a month for 3-4 days at a time, so I can maintain regular contact, progress reports, and update the video/photo diary. During these monthly visits, I will pay for the next month’s keep. This ensures that I will be keeping up to date with costings and progression, and that if anything happens to the pig and the project stops, I will be fully paid up/have honored my commitments.

An update on the current piglet price from the farmer stands that the piglet will cost £20, but that is subject to change at the time of purchase.

I’m really excited about the future of this project, and am looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the subject/concerns I’m addressing in my studio practice, and deepening the foundations of my context/content.

During my farm visits, I intend to make many observational drawings, which will be incorporated into the works I produce in the studio, at the moment, that’s prints, but this will probably evolve with the progression of the project. I intend for my pig rearing experience to inform my practice at all stages, and to not only develop my knowledge of the traditional husbandry techniques I wish to celebrate in my work, but also that of the human/animal relationship we have with the livestock raised for our food.

Keep up to date on this dedicated page, as the project progresses!