An inspiring dump

I’ve been to a Waste to Art workshop at Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre (A.K.A. independently owned dump with eco focus)

Artists gave us the low-down on how they construct works from used materials (found at dumps, unwanted by friends, or sourced elsewhere such as keys from replaced locks supplied by estate agents). My current making skills are almost non existent (my preferred tool being double-sided sticky tape) so I was somewhat awe-inspired by their heavy duty tools and techniques. The world is your oyster, recycled art-wise, if you have the skills of a handyman/woman and they explained to us that these are essential skills if you are selling your work: you can’t have it disintegrating in an exhibition or a buyer’s home. I don’t have ambitions to exhibit or have my work bought at present, but I am interested in making works of art for the room of my own which last.

My first foray into making art was back in June. It was intended to last only a day hanging from a tree at the Creative Berowra market. I created a 2D wrap of contrasting autumn leaves collected from Berowra, a cropped and enlarged photo taken of my daughter asleep years back, cardboard from a moving house box to make a strong backing, and A LOT OF double-sided sticky tape. I was surprised by how much I liked my creation and have since explored methods to preserve leaves as mine lost much of their colour  after a week or so.

Bush Baby by Sarah Menary

What inspired me about the workshop were the upcycled creations of Mike Sargeant. He seemed not to consider himself an artist having had no formal training. He creates one-off works for the pure joy and curiosity of it for the past 14 years and sells many of his pieces. There was this amazing, full-size, crocodile made of steel recycled parts, gorgeous to look at and now in a buyer’s home in Nowra, NSW. It sold for $12,000 but this is a fraction of its worth in terms of the two years and the skill it took to make. But that is not the point for Mike. He enjoyed making it and seeing his idea realised. He does not plan what he does, no marquettes (little models to pilot ideas used often by sculptors, architects) he uses his ingenuity and sees where it takes him.

Made by Mike Sergeant using discarded steamer parts and satellite dish fixings

Mike Sargeant used dismantled forks and discarded keys

Made by Mike Sargeant using dismantled forks, bottle brushes, steamer parts, china glass paint

I love this approach which is why I want to write about him on this blog. I think this is one of the keys to upcycling myself. I would be lying if I said I don’t value planning or that we can live without considering what pays for the roof over our heads. But I understand now that if you only approach life like that, it is stultifying.

The importance of planning and achieving an end goal was impressed on my mind as child. I think it prevented me from pursuing activities purely for exploration and joy. I  know I weighed up the likely results/value and on that basis and pursued them or not. I was a good project manager when I worked for business. I was very methodical, worried about the details and took responsibility for everything going right, but no matter how good a job I did, the process never brought me pleasure or satisfaction and eventually burn-out. Eventually I realised that just because I did something well did not mean I should be doing it. Doing it well used to be the reason for doing it, now that seems to miss the point entirely.


One comment

  1. […] may remember that I attended the Waste To Art workshop for adults to learn about art upcycling: I went to learn for myself and to generate ideas for a kids’ upcycling activity I was doing […]

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