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10 Artworks to Get You Obsessed with Recycled Art

“…uses newspaper print to create lifelike animal sculptures. From walrus and hares to iguanas her sculptures can take up to three months to create.”

The words recycled art might conjure up mental images of school art projects; made from milk cartons and wonky hot glue guns or you might picture the sweet but alas a little tacky tin can aeroplanes of your local crafters market. What you might not immediately imagine is gallery worthy fine art. No I am not kidding; recycling and fine art certainly belong in the same sentence and the same room. But before I get into that, I am going to touch on why this topic excites me so much.

It has been a welcome relief to see the recent surges of interest in acknowledging and tackling climate change and environmental disrepair. As a long time nature lover I have often wondered what makes people cringe when environmental advocacy is discussed. I posted on my Instagram about being an animal lover and had 6 of my 600 followers- 1% unfollow me in a matter of minutes. And whilst I have never been one for social media numbers, I was honestly quite surprised. Did those people think I was climbing up the ladder of my soap box at a mere mention of animals? Or are some of us trying that hard to hide from our own shame of not doing more, that we can’t tolerate someone else sharing love? I am not sure -but I do know whether we like to acknowledge it or not is we belong to Mother Earth and we all have a responsibility to start caring for her. Which brings me back to art- how do we motivate each other to change poor habits, how do we raise awareness without the soapbox and how do we inspire people that cool things can be done and created with what we already have? Well apart from saying a quiet thank goodness for David Attenborough amongst other people, there are lots of things we can do. When it comes to art, I have already written a blog post about sourcing ethical art materials (that you can read here) but we can also look at arts role in playfully advocating and creating inspiration for meaningful change.

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Art for Change

 Let me take you through a mix of positive power stories from artists and creative influencers to some tips of tried and true ways to put your creativity to power and make art for change.

So unless you have had a trip to Mars recently or live technology free you will be have experienced the heartbreak of watching the Australian fire crisis unfold over the last few months. Perhaps you experienced it or had family experience it directly. If you did, then my heart goes out to you. The horror must have been unimaginable.  The amount of loss and devastation tally’s high. From 24 deaths, to estimate thousands of dwellings burnt. And the affected animals falls into the 100’s of millions as declared by Sydney University. Amongst that boggling mix has been disenchanting behaviour by Australian politicians, toxic smoke haze issues, river and sediment imbalances and the list goes on. ABC recently reported on widespread misinformation and “bots” spreading arsonist claims that aren’t true. The fact that climate change discussions, in a country dedicated to coal got ah, heated, is hardly surprising. But it’s enough to increase the agitation and despair we all feel. Australia ended and started the decade with a physical and emotional enormity that no-one anticipated. I think feeling all the feelings is so important; sadness, despair, fear, uncertainty, agitation and contempt all help to mobilise action.

Action is the reason I am writing this blog post. Because alongside the terror and the pain there has been incredible amounts of action and as time continues i hope that much action will continue. This beautiful country we live in requires better care urgently. Continue reading Art for Change

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Where to buy Eco Art Materials

Despite many dead-end google searches I have been replacing “all too hard” with a list of ethical producers and suppliers and alternative ideas to our fast paced art cupboards. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about starting and transitioning one thing at a time. 

So you have your eco hit list; the one with your regular purchases and habits that your determinedly and slowly switching out for more ethical and environmentally friendly alternatives. Reusable shopping bags-tick  Glass Tupperware- tick, reusable straw- tick, stainless steel razor- tick, art materials- um, cross. It’s no secret that certain things are harder to find ethical alternatives for and art materials, i believe, are right at the top of that list. It’s not that there aren’t ways to make art without the plastics,  environmental toxins and  ocean threatening micro-waste, it’s just that these ways aren’t as convenient or as pretty and sometimes they are even a bit hard to find. Bright colours, fast-drying and affordability have all become trade-marks of the art supplies industry. For the last year as i slowly wade through my back-log of art materials i have wondered, where to next?  Despite many dead-end google searches I have been replacing “all too hard” with a list of ethical producers and suppliers and alternative ideas to our fast paced art cupboards. There is now enough of a list of eco art materials I thought i would share. Each mention of a store or brand should be hyper-linked for you to click for more info- I hope you enjoy!

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The Beauty of Waste: Recycling Art

“And that is the scary bit, bins -especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful…So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon”

This has to be one of my favourite topics. For a long time I could never reconcile my two passions for art and the environment. But once i started working with children, i realised how important it was not to pass down the habit of using toxic and wasteful materials, many of which are plastic based. These days I never look at the recycle bin the same way (and I have to get in first before my puppy!). It is not secret that our consumer habits and waste is getting pretty out of hand. My mumma tells me memories from when she was younger and remembered her parents and grandparents being extremely resourceful. Post-War England had no option but to be. Now? There is a bin for that. And that is the scary bit, bins especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful. The truth is we need to be resourceful now more than ever. Precisely because there is so much waste and so many products on the planet. It is best to be an advocate for reduce and reuse before recycle. So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon. This week on Instagram I posted some fun art and craft ideas straight from your household recycling. (it won’t be my last recycling art inspired stint of posts, so head over and follow me if you’re interested in a dose of inspiration). To recap i posted ideas for toilet roll animals, robots, letterboxes and a time machine- check them out here.

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Mandala: Natural Art Therapy

The Mandala creates a clear visual boundary which can be grounding and soothing for a restless mind.

So I took a break and have come back a little more process orientated, a little more humbled by materials and a little more motivated to match my environmental consciousness with my art business. I have spent this week posting about Mandala’s on my instagram and thought they were worth a little more limelight. Before I get started on the many ways to create Mandala’s minus the plastic fantastic art materials, I thought I would give a brief description of where Mandala’s come from. The traditional mandala originates from Tibetan Buddhism and is a sand ritual that symbolises the interconnections of the universe; it also acts as a reminder of impermanence as the mandala’s are swept up at the end of the ceremony and ritual. Within each intricate design are different lessons, symbols and meanings. The complexity of the design can be outstanding.  There is a strong connection between Mandala’s and healing. Read more on the process of Tibetan Buddhist Mandala in this BBC article. You can also see Tibetan monks on youtube creating Mandala’s. They are pretty special.

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