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Art from waste

by Adriena Pekárová

Waste produced by the consumer society and its impact on environment have provoked concern and interest in the use of once used materials. Waste, remains, used and discarded items have become interesting for art, crafts and design.
12 The light from plastic bottles designed by Juraj Výboh, 2011 Processing used things was important in the past for different reasons then now. The key factor was saving and economical use of materials. And, it was the idea behind patchwork craft in England from where the English colonists imported it to the Northern America. A must later transformed into a challenging craft possessing characteristics of visual art.
A similar idea – seeking to preserve a valuable part of clothes – stands behind many old folk costumes. Unique embroideries from high-quality materials were cut out from worn-out folk costumes and sewn on a new folk costume. Weaving carpets from odd scraps of fabric is another type of craft with significant recycling potential. Such carpets have been popular symbol of tradition and homemaking.
Lack of goods and materials, importance of economising, inventiveness and creativity provoked development of many unique homemaking activities between 1950s and 1990s. What we now know as recycling was, back then, a skill of how to make clothing items, bijou and decorative items from cheap materials (such as toothpaste package, insulation material or plastic bags). Majority of such items were kitsch, however, some amateur makers became true master craftsmen. A collection of flower brooches from insulation material made in 1975 is an example of good taste, sense of colours combining and proficiency of the author.
Unfortunately, we have not discovered the importance of waste processing and recycling yet. However, there are few impressive examples. Long-time teacher at the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava, painter, environmentalist and expert on craft procedures in wood processing and design Marián Huba initiated lectures on wood, its characteristics and recycling opportunities in the 1990s. Many interesting recycling –based furniture pieces and interior items have been made at the premises of the school.
Currently, architect Juraj Výboh is the only person who is active in making design items from recycled waste. He uses plastic bottles, a material typical for waste designers, and cans, wooden products, plastic and metal waste to make wide range of small items and interior elements. He started his waste recycling career with making lights from plastic bottles.
There are some other artists working with used materials such as textile artist Iveta Miháliková who makes jewellery and hanging objects from plastic; or jewellery designer Mária Nepšinská who makes items from old metal cutlery. Work of architect Katarína Šléglová is a good example of how hardware waste becomes an interesting source for conceptual solutions.
12 The light from plastic bottles designed by Juraj Výboh, 2011






Further articles in the magazine Craft, Art, Design 01/2012: