Round Britain crew member, biochemist and environmental artist Deborah Maw gives us the low-down on creating art from waste plastic.
Postcards featuring Deborah’s art are available for purchase as part of the eXXpedition Round Britain crowdfunding campaign.
Waste plastic can be found in many places; our recycling bins, non-recycling bins, littering our streets and parks, littering our beaches. It’s a free, colourful and versatile resource. Using it as an art medium helps draw attention to the issues of plastic use, disposal and pollution. The plastic items can be assembled and photographed in the location found, i.e. on the beach (remember to take it away and dispose of it carefully afterwards) or collected, taken away, washed and worked with.
When I’m using waste plastic and teaching others to use it I stick to a few rules: keep it simple, focus on colour and shapes. It really doesn’t work ‘trying’ to make something – like ‘a robot’ as encouraged in school-based junk art. Mainly because it’s almost impossible to stick plastic together, and some of it is very hard to cut. Allow the nature of the plastic items available dictate the outcome as shown in the images. As a textile artist, I also use stitching with ‘soft’ plastics, i.e. stitching into cut plastic bottles or making plastic fabric from packaging and using embroidery stitches to apply sea ropes or balloon ribbons etc.
Having worked with waste plastic for 10 years I am very keen on eXXpedition Round Britain 2017 and I’m looking forward to creating new artworks with the people we meet along the way. While sailing we will be trawling for microplastic and doing beach cleans. The plastic litter collected will be washed and used as a resource for art workshops, creating funky art pieces which can be photographed before disposing of the litter responsibly. In a previous career I was a microscopist, photographing minute details; it will be really exciting to be able to look at some of the microplastic in microscopes and photograph what we see. I think this will produce some very interesting images.
Members of the eXXpedition crew will be running art installations and art workshops during the Round Britain voyage this summer. Keep an eye on our events page for activities near you. Don’t forget you can also donate to our crowdfunding campaign by buying Deborah’s artwork cards!