Cane Growth

Insects are almost always regarded as useful or pests, and the line between that dichotomy can change easily and quickly. When one insect is used as pest control for another insect and humans are suddenly able to replace them with a more stable scientific approach, or when the original belief turns out to be incorrect, the insect also becomes a pest. A perfect example of this is the Australian Cane Beetle, a huge hindrance to cane farmers. Although not an insect itself, in 1935 the Cane Toad was introduced to cull the masses of Cane Beetles, however, this did not work and now the Cane Toad remains as one of the biggest environmental pests in Australia, encroaching on the habitats of other species.

‘Cane Growth’ (2012) is about the rapid growth of the Cane Toad population in Australia, particularly their movement towards urban areas such as Brisbane, whilst the green tree frog dwindles in numbers. Even though the toad is a major threat to our environment, it is cruel to so easily support their eradication, particularly being that it is our own fault that they are here.

This work involved eighty plastic toy frogs that were plastered and painted to resemble cane toads. A series of succulents were planted into holes that were drilled in their backs. Initially, I had intended to plant a number of attractive weeds, but found that the lifecycle of most common weeds was very short once they had been removed from the earth. The weeds would have represented another aspect of pest control, as many weeds, such as the Tridax Procumbens, are rather endearing to me. ‘Cane Growth’ was installed as part of the 2high Festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2012. The toads had small LED lights embedded in their mouths so that they were visible once the sun had gone down. The toads were lost shortly after the festival at the Powerhouse and so were reimagined as paper artworks.

-“Australian Government Policy on Cane Toads,” Australian Government,
-2high Festival, Backbone Youth Arts,
-Brisbane Powerhouse,