The Fafard Field Project

About The Project

The early winter of 1996 marked the beginning of an idea of the MacLaren Art Centre to work in conjunction with the 1997 International Plowing Match (IPM) to create a plowed and planted work of art in a farm field—a big farm field. The MacLaren Art Centre's Director and Curator, William Moore began by talking with internationally recognized Canadian artist Joe Fafard from Regina. Joe is known for his agricultural imagery and his ability to tackle big projects. An idea began to take shape.

The idea developed that a well defined image be planted in various crops suitable for aerial and elevated viewing at or near the International Plowing Match site. Roy Hickling, because of his background as a farmer and his abiding interest in art, was invited to act as the Curator and Project Coordinator. After a presentation to the1997 IPM committee, they agreed to incorporate MacLaren Against the Grain: The Fafard Field Project into their event.

A completely wonderful cooperative effort was born. Its connections linked farmer and artist, cultural and farming institutions, and the City of Barrie with its rural community. The MacLaren Art Centre is responsible for organizing and creating the work for the plowing match in exchange for the use of an adjacent fifty acre field that the match secured. The result is a truly unique growing installation exhibition. It represents the plowed image of a horse and is planted in different crops which, over the period it runs, will change with the seasons—like an animation.

The benefits are enormous. The 1997 International Plowing Match will see increased attendance and public awareness, and the MacLaren is able to produce a truly unique art exhibition linking many communities. It is expected that over one hundred thousand visitors will be able to view this work by a respected Canadian artist.

Artist Joe Fafard had one major stipulation before he would agree to the project, "No potential food would be wasted". The harvesting of this project became as important as the parties and sponsors involved and the people who would enjoy viewing it. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank agreed to receive the crop harvested from the field and in turn donate the proceeds to third world countries in need of food. With four to one matching funds donated by the Canadian International Development Agency, it is estimated that the value of this donation will exceed $75,000.

A project of this size and complexity is a major undertaking. A broad community involvement approach has been adopted to see it through to its successful completion. Volunteer teams working together to undertake the needed tasks can be as different as farmers doing the field work or Barrie Georgian College students surveying the image onto the field.

This project also creates some wonderful logistical challenges. Taking Joe Fafard's image from letter sized drawing to a 50 acre field is no simple feat. It involves not only a surveying and layout puzzle, but a major agricultural one as well. The design features wheat, corn, canola, soybeans and alfalfa all with their own seed bed, timing, fertility, herbicide, planting and harvesting requirements.

During the 1997 International Plowing Match, visitors will be able to view the image from a Ferris wheel as well as from hot air balloons. All efforts are being taken by the IPM committee to ensure that MacLaren Against the Grain: The Fafard Field Project is a fully realized component of the match. All aspects of the project as well as the evolution of the image itself, will be documented from planting through harvest, by use of aerial and ground photography, video and print so that a lasting record of it remains long after the crop is harvested.

Project Details

Key parties involved in coordinating the Fafard Project:

MacLaren Art Centre:
Director and Curator, MacLaren Art Centre- William Moore
MacLaren Against the Grain Curator - Roy Hickling
Promotion & Partnership Volunteer Team
John Lister
Roy Hickling
Paula Pick
Natasha Burton
Rebbeca Truax
Logistics & Documentation Volunteer Team
Roy Hickling
Greg Amann
Hanne Fynbo
Barb Robillard
Doug Scholes
Peter Lee

Artist: - Joe Fafard, Officer of the Order of Canada (1981)

1997 International Plowing Match Committee:
Chairman - Don Bell

Canadian Foodgrains Bank
Ontario Grain Drive Coordinator - Jim Papple

Location: Across the road from the tented city of the 1997 IPM,
approximately 15 minutes south of Barrie. Take Hwy. 27 south from Hwy. 400, turn right or west, on the 20th (Ivy) sideroad and proceed to the 10th line of Essa

Image: A draft horse of wheat with a background of corn, canola,
soybeans and alfalfa. Tillage equipment will be used to create bare earth contour lines and a harness after the wheat harvest.

Important project dates:

August 1996 Creation of design
September & October, 1996 Surveying, layout & wheat planting
April & May 1997 Spring crop planting
June 15 Canola in bloom - Opening Event
August 31 Harnessing the horse
September 16 Opening day of the International Plowing Match
September 18 1:00 pm Joe uses a tractor and disc to complete his artwork
September 18 6:00 pm Banquet and artists slide show and talk
September 19 7:30 pm Joe Fafard Beyond the Field opens at the MacLaren
September 20 Winning ticket drawn on rug raffle 3:00 pm Headquarters Stage
September 20 Closing day of the Plowing Match
September 21 2:00 pm Joe’s artist talk for Beyond the Field


William Moore, Director and Curator, MacLaren Art Centre
John Lister, Director of Development, MacLaren Art Centre
Rebbeca Truax, Media Relations
(705) 721-9696
fax: 739-1391
Roy Hickling, Curator, MacLaren Against the Grain
(705) 734-1819
fax : 734-0935
Don Bell, Chairperson, International Plowing Match
(705) 835-6322
George Coulson, Publicity (705) 726-9300 ext. 217
Jim Papple, Ontario Coordinator, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
(519) 522-0699


Any comments regarding this web site please feel free to contact us
Copyright 1997, Peter Lee