Artful Waste

It’s Christmas Day and I’ve been awake for hours thinking about waste. The waste from our ever consuming lives. All the festive fun or what!? I hate wasting things.  Throwing away the unnecessary packaging from products, foods, and life makes my insides spasm.  This is why I like free and second hand stuff.  People’s unwanted things that I shall make great use of, that have a past life, an aged beauty, untold histories and that would only have ended up in landfill if a magpie eye had not scooped it up.

However, it’s not all Scrooge-esque doom and gloom!  I can’t wait for the Welsh lamb leg and red wine to be in front of me, along with my lovely family opening handmade and specifically requested presents.  It will be a super day with the log fire, cats and savouring the wonderfully imposed stillness.  But I can’t help but ponder the utter ridiculous nature of a lot of the imposed festivities. The heaving trollies of food and booze for that 48 hours of perfection.  The “Oh, shit… I haven’t bought X a present.  Quick! Let’s pick up, erm… that oh so cute winter scene in a snow globe!”  Some may love it, of course, but really!?  This was a Secret Santa to my Ma from one of her work colleagues, that now lives in the foot well of the back seat of her car. I’m sure it was the thought that counts, yes?

This whimsical and defunct snow globe, in all it’s polystyrene casing, reminded me I needed to write about an interesting and inspiring artwork I experienced recently at Arnolfini’s Museum Show 2, by the artist Maarten Vanden Eynde. Eynde’s Museum of Forgotten History presents an array of thought provoking future “artefacts” that the archaeologists of 2211 could be likely to find.  A possible future past.  From a human skeleton (a medical school prop!) with several bones missing, and arranged with seeming scientific sense to make a long tailed, multi-legged creature, to an Ikea “vase” made from small fragments of a typical cup, I was left seriously deliberating what it is that shall constitute the archival remnants of today’s world.   The evolution of history and construction of chosen histories is very much something I have been reflecting on during 2011, and the physical manifestation of this shared notion I found particularly provoking.

The Museum Show, in both it’s parts, houses 40 artist made Museums that explore the institutions in which we find ourselves as artists and the receivers of “information”. Eynde’s work looks out further into the very real issue of man’s impact on the world’s eco-system. His snow globe houses small fragments of plastic taken from the plastic trash island in the Pacific Ocean.

The globe embodies, with great convulsive beauty, the unseen results of our constant waste disposal.  There is  no finger pointing, no imposing, didactic solution, just the noting of a reality.  You are invited to pick up and shake the snow globe, as if you were enjoying a merry, wintry scene.  The mindless nonchalance one adopts in this movement, only to suddenly realise how grotesque the back story, I found particularly hard hitting.  Picking things up for our entertainment, a quick shake, to then be bored and move on. Well, it says it all really, doesn’t it.

This led me  to gaze in a different direction while on my beach run yesterday.  Usually I explore the horizon and find myself bent over trying to find smooth sea glass amongst the pebbles on the shoreline.  This time I looked where before I had hopped over: the tangle of seaweed and plastic.  I shall leave this musing there for today (as I’m sure I need to crack on with unwrapping a few bits and bobs) and will post up my findings very soon.

Wishing you all much love and festive warmth today.  May you savour the brilliance and wonder that are the small moments of connection with your family and friends.  May you eat just enough to feel content, and drink heartily, and may you win at all boardgames that get dusted off and wielded by excited and drunken family members.


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