Revered and Reviled; Plastic The Legacy
As my art work has increasingly involved all sorts of organic, inorganic and synthetic matter. And as I have been balancing their uses with earth and human related conundrums and evolutions whether historical pre industrial ones, or brand new.
Plastic has to be one of the most revered and reviled products to have entered into our scope of man-made things short of the discovery of oil.
Remember seeing the fairly well documented start out of the Plastiki? The vessel hewn and shaped and bolstered with thousands of plastic bottles? When David de Rothschild (as from the Banking family) set out on this project I remember first hearing about it a couple of years ago, when they were initially designing the vessel.
Plastiki catamaran : image courtesy of Seawayblog
The idea being to voyage from San Francisco past Hawaii and Samoa to Sydney through what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch;
a vortex of bits of plastic detritus which has gathered in the slow moving centre of the Pacific circular currents.
One of many illustrations and drawings by the expeditions artists : Sophie Henson
image courtesy Plastiki's amazing full on blog, twitter and video/photo update site (if a little slow with all the imagery)
Quite frankly at the time I thought what a brilliant concept (almost art!). The vessel made from plastic being aided by plastic, travelling in a pioneering way through all this mulch that refuses to go away. On the same route that the Kon-Tiki took a nearly 3/4 of a century earlier. Similar styles of travel completely; different results.
The Kon-Tiki apparently was following the earlier routes of travellers from North America to the Antipodes. A route which according to Nick Thom a professor from Nottingham University, in an unrelated book documenting his fascination with The Origin of Tongues believes to be a significant sea faring link in part of the global route of morphing language and so forming a map of migration and seafaring/agricultural settlement with products and trade.
We have taken a long time to get where we are, but apparently the plastic phenomenon in this area of sea has only been recognised for 12 years but it is BIG.
Not just floating on the surface in an area the size of The North Sea, but down into the oceans depths, tiny, tiny fragments which work their way back through the food chain.
illustration by Andrew Ray courtesy Plastiki
And we use so much of the stuff! . How useful it is! Mr Tupperware made a fortune out of the stuff. And now even the food halls who pertain to free-range this and organic-that please buy a reusable bag at the checkout, still go into overdrive when it comes to useless packaging (M&S you know who you are!).
Did anyone see the Stark series on design? Well apart from the usual tv design school competition type stuff he did make one point very, very clear to all has students. THAT OF UNNECESSARY PACKAGING.
Local artist Sarah Turner has also set up in business recycling plastic bottles not dissimilar to the ones shoring up the Plastiki:
An eco artist & designer making beautiful products from waste materials. Her latest creations are decorative lighting products made from waste plastic drinks bottles.
The bottles are collected from cafes and households then they are cleaned and sandblasted. With some clever cutting they are then transformed into decorative forms, totally unrecognisable from their original state.
A use that is meant to last far longer than it takes to drink a bottle of sprite and chuck it in the sea!
Sarah Turners Lighting : Daisy above and Lily below
And there will be more! as Sarah joins in a more in-depth article in the continuing series The Lives of Artists. With her thoughts on how she started her business and her experience in an area of industrial design which, like fashion, is still burgeoning out of dogma.
Sarah on one of her plans for the future;
“I am still designing and making new lighting products made from waste plastic drinks bottles but I do have a few other products still on the drawing board. I would love to design a make-it-yourself kit which would enable people to recycle their own waste at home and make their own creative recycled product.”
A new series of Lives of artists is coming soon; this time looking at fresh and exiting NY artist Jen Dalton, the entrepreneurial Central St Martin's graduates fashion outlet-come-gallery-space of Beyond The Valley in London’s Soho, 5 years on from inception. Fresh from degree photographer Zoe Boundry and Sarah Turner's very innovative start-up.
All with different accounts, experiences and solutions! in the business of creativity.
Back on Sunday !............