Waste conjures up a motley mess of blacks, greys, and browns – a disarray of worthless, useless or defective stuff.
When foraging and sourcing waste for my Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhoods Waste to Art project, I intrinsically wanted to classify my waste collection into their respective colour hues. It made waste feel more palatable and useful. Yes, I found the less-loved colours, but there was also an extraordinary amount of rainbow-coloured waste.
Curating the waste into ROYGBIV (colours of the rainbow) felt natural for me to sequentially order the things and stuff. Rainbow coloured food produce & toy netting bags are the foundation of my sewing and darning visual story. Sewing the pieces of waste on and in the netting represent the floating marine ghost nets that unnecessarily entangle rubbish and wildlife.
How will you start reducing our waste?
Pieces of weathered marine debris and elastic bands are hand-sewn into the netting. They portray the ongoing loss of creatures and animals in our water and land from excessive human consumption and control.
The hanging branch shows how the extraordinary amount of waste we produce has outweighed and overtaken our natural environment.
The solo bread tag is in recognition of the unique work of my creative friend Shani from The Breadtag Project. Shani’s artistic bread tag showcase, made from this ubiquitous piece of everyday plastic, has been the inspiration to my first ever public creative project.
Where I Found the Waste
- Marine waste – Sourced between the southern beaches of Lake Macquarie (Caves Beach – Swansea North) and on my walks between Foresters Beach and Bateau Bay on the Central Coast. The beach litter filled my backpack, especially after a number of shipping containers fell overboard in the May 2020 rough seas off the East Coast of Australia.
- Elastic bands – It’s amazing how many we accumulate from surplus business supplies and food produce. My aim was to find elastic bands of every colour. There are two elastic band colours missing from my artwork…
- Bread tag – I have a growing collection of these little rainbow-coloured pieces of plastic, ready to send to The Breadtag Project
- Textile waste – From my own embroidery threads collection, stored in Grace Bros paper bags.
- Produce netting – Collected from friends and family who have supported my creative project from the beginning and have become more mindful about waste
- Handmade paper – Making coloured paper from used and discarded paper products is a skill my friend Fleur has perfected.
What this Project Means to Me
I hope my artwork will be the impetus for personal and community change in how we think about waste.
Rubbish and waste has become entrenched in our current way of living. We need to change our norms and place greater value on refusing and reducing waste. Let’s not just switch out the waste with more eco-friendly options, but actually eliminate the overuse of waste altogether.
We need to tread a better path of sustainability for the wellbeing of people and the planet. Let’s start by doing the change we want to see.
Links and Resources
- Click here for more information about the annual Lake Macquarie Waste to Art exhibition.
- Read how my participation in the Take 3 for the Sea CEO Clean Up helps to be more mindful about the impact of rubbish in the community.
- There are two books I recommend to help rethink our use of plastic: – Life Without Plastic and Quitting Plastic.
- The Australian book A Family Guide to Waste Free Living is an inspiring book which shows how it is possible for us to take simple steps to live a more waste free lifestyle.
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