Saturday, May 24, 2014


Art from Trash! Wow! One of the most eagerly awaited art events in Hobart these days is organised by the Resource Work Cooperative, best known for running the Tip Shop.

For non-Australians, a word of explanation. A "tip" is a refuse dump, garbage tip, waste disposal facility. In other words, where the detritus of civilisation is sent to die. Since 1993 the Resource Work Cooperative has been collecting and selling discarded items from a shed at McRobie's Gully, South Hobart, and you can pick up some wonderful things for a minuscule amount of money.

In 1995 they organised the inaugural Art From Trash exhibition, open to all comers, with the only proviso being that the source of materials used in artwork construction be the Tip Shop. It's proved a huge success, with participants ranging from kindergarten classes to professional artists and it's amazing what they create.

There are always variations on some standard pieces: dresses made from furnishing fabric, tablecloths, packaging materials, drink can ring-pulls or disposable cups; guns, robots and humorous animals from plastic bottles or scrap metal; old windows as picture frames; furniture rejuvenated with mosaic, decoupage or painted images; serious assemblages with meaningful environmental messages hand-written across them. Each year there is something clever, some idea so simple and obvious you wonder why you haven't seen it done before, something beautifully crafted from unlikely materials, or something that's just plain silly and great fun.

These are some of my favourite pieces from this year's exhibition.

Some fanciful constructions by children from the Jordan River Learning Federation – I especially liked the suspended globe with a 33 rpm record as "rings".

The Margate Primary School kindergarten class took the theme of Faces, children using a variety of scrap plastics, papers and fabric to make faces which were then assembled as a great, big smile.

It was difficult to capture the magnificently ridiculous sculpture, Egghead by Melanie Zaugger; and I really liked the use of a tow-chain and hook as a very silly bird called Stickynose by Alan Culph 
It's been done before, and it will be done again, but I always enjoy a well done assemblage of plastic toys. These are two pieces by Catharine Brunt – Production Madness and Plastic Warfare.

So this is where Cinderella's slippers went! To my chagrin, it took me a couple of minutes to appreciate the title of this one – Tip Toes by Patsy Primozich.

This works so well on so many levels – Tripe Trophy is a beautifully knitted/crocheted sheep's head mounted on a serving tray with an affixed Onkaparinga blanket label. Karen Lyttle's succinct Artist Statement says: Our throw away culture is tripe, our lack of regard for domestic animals, tripe also.

As usual, this exhibition was not short on guns and robots, and very beautifully crafted they were, too. In fact, that was their downfall because the artists seemed so focused on perfecting the object they failed to convey any particular message. Not so The Final Battle by Hein Poortenaar.

Yes, the craftsmanship and finish are there, but there is a deliberate battered uncertainty to these "weapons". Vaguely anthropomorphic, they totter on crooked legs threatening to collapse at any moment. Cobbled together from whatever happened to be available, they make an exhausted last stand that I found very poignant

My favourite, however, had to be Trash Snack by Saarasa Madden and Rayma Kennedy. Here is one of those crazy, obvious ideas that has you cracking up with laughter at its audacity. What to do with all those plastic bags?  I think the picture says it all, really.

This year's Art From Trash exhibition - 24 May to 4 June, 2014 at the Long Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre. Get along and see it. It's anything but trashy art.
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