La Trobe University uses art to help protect environment in new initiative

La Trobe University, together with the National Gallery of Victoria, has launched an initiative using virtual creations of trees to help the environment with each virtual tree matched with a real tree planted in the university’s garden.

Created by creative agency SDWM and produced by Airbag, ‘Living Landscapes’ allows visitors to design a personalised digital tree on an iPad, using colours and techniques inspired by David Hockney’s ‘Current’ exhibition, which is on display at the NGV.

As part of the initiative, NGV guests can move their iPad over a scale replica of La Trobe University’s Wildlife Sanctuary and ‘digitally’ plant their creation in a virtual forest.

For each virtual tree planted, La Trobe University will plant a real one in the university’s Sanctuary.

Julian Murphy, sponsorship strategy manager at La Trobe University, said the campaign enhanced experience for guests as well as had environmental benefits.

“For every virtual plant created, one will be planted in reality at the Wildlife Sanctuary, which has been a feature of our Bundoora campus for more than 50 years and is now home to millions of wildlife,” Murphy said.

Visitors can design and plant it virtually in La Trobe’s Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Living Landscapes embodies David Hockney’s unique style, passion for the environment and blending technology with old-style painting of beautiful flora and landscapes.”

La Trobe University has partnered with NGV for the last four years, creating exhibitions for the community and giving University students access to an art subject created within the exhibition space.

Airbag has been involved in the activations for the last three years.

“This is the first time I’ve seen people come together to make art using AR technology -every time we run the activation, we create a unique, collaborative work of art,” Adrian Bosich, managing partner at Airbag said.

James Orr, creative director at SDWM, said the latest work demonstrates the university’s commitment to art as well as a sustainable future.

“Living Landscapes is testament to La Trobe University’s philosophy of bold thinking with a conscience. It’s a direct reflection of the innovative, future-facing nature of their courses and ambitions,” he said.

The ‘Living Landscapes’ initiative will run every Friday at NGV until March 10.


  • Client: La Trobe University
  • Chief Marketing Officer: Mark Engel
  • Sponsorship Strategy Manager: Julian Murphy
  • Campaign Manager: Annabel O’Neill
  • Online Communities Manager: Felicity Cull
  • Operations Manager, La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary Vern Steele
  • Production Company: AIRBAG
  • Managing Partner: Adrian Bosich
  • Creative Technologist: Steven Nicholson
  • Producers: Johanna Rayner, Nick Venn
  • Developers: Brad Hammond, Stephen Burns
  • Creative Agency: SDWM
  • Creative Director: James Orr
  • Creative Director: Elle Bullen
  • Design Director: Jake Turnbull
  • Business Director: Jarrick Lay
  • Social Strategist: Phoebe Bullen
  • PR agency: Soda Communications
  • Managing Director: Chriss Mannix
  • Account Manager: Maddi Vantarakis

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