I went as far East as possible yesterday. That IS what Easter means, right? I headed to the East coast in East Anglia and braved the coastal winds to enjoy a walk along the seafront with my family. I enjoyed a traditional fish and chips lunch and a cup of afternoon tea before walking the promenade and ogling all the gorgeous seafront properties with much jealousy. One of the more interesting buildings on Aldeburgh seafront is the South Lookout Tower, an art space owned by Caroline Wiseman Modern & Contemporary which plays host to artists-in-residence and presents engaging exhibitions.
This weekend’s art offering included seascape photography in the very top of the tower (for those who could brave that spiral staircase in blustery winds!), an installation in the middle of the tower to represent how writer Laurens van der Post had used the lookout Tower in the past to write, and a though-provoking exhibition entitled Void – The landscape of waste packaging in the gallery space. The artist invited holiday-makers, visitors and locals to join in with the creation of a ‘landscape’ of waste by bringing their own used packaging to the exhibition in order to have it cast in concrete. The resulting sculptures formed an industrial landscape which grew over the course of the artist’s Easter residency and joined the existing waste landscapes that the artist had previously cast, painted and photographed.
This intervention discussed the levels of waste packaging in the UK and I was shocked to find out that we each create 38kg of plastic waste per year – the exact volume of concrete used in each landscape – in spite of our recycling efforts at home. I was certain that when I picked up every plastic bottle top, washed each piece of used foil and took my glass to the bottle bank, it would actually be recycled and reused in the next incarnation of packaging, but it turns out that only around 25% of our waste is genuinely recycled. Whether this is our fault for not knowing exactly what can and can’t be recycled, or the council’s fault for incinerating perfectly usable materials, or the government’s fault for sending our waste plastic abroad, whatever the cause I’d rather that the items I put into the recycling bin are actually reused as intended.
Despite the serious subject area, it was a playful exhibition and children were enthralled as they watched the artist popping concrete ‘sandcastles’ out of interestingly-shaped biscuit packaging and yoghurt pots. The fact that the installation grew over the course of the weekend was particularly captivating, and demonstrated how our own recycling waste would have grown over the same period of time. What do you think about waste and recycling? Did you visit this exhibition yourself? Please tweet me @Cassiefairy and we’ll carry on the discussion