Art from Waste

From 27th April to 22nd May, the Enviro Hub, Devon Contract Waste, will be featuring exhibition From Cowboys to Astronauts. Featuring art pieces from city artists, the exhibition is based on the idea of scarcity – the idea that we are rapidly using up limited resources such as fossil fuels, some of which have taken billions of years to form – and creating serious waste problems along the way, still holds true 40 years later.

As far back as 1966, economist Kenneth E. Boulding envisioned the need for a movement away from what he termed a “cowboy economy“, based on the assumption of apparently boundless resources, to a “spaceman economy”. In his essay “The Coming of a Spaceship Earth,” he made the analogy that “the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system”.

Concern about the issue is growing, and this is reflected in the growing trend of creating art out of waste materials, that has taken off in the past few years. From Cowboys to Astronauts promotes the concept of a circular economy – a regenerative economic system where materials and energy from products are recovered and put back into the system instead of simply being disposed of. Invited artists will use waste materials to demonstrate what can be achieved when we move away from the throwaway mind-set that is endemic in our society.

Participating artists attended an art from waste workshop hosted by the Centre for Alternative Materials and Remanufacturing Technologies (CALMARE), a business technology centre, part funded by the ERDF, based at the University of Exeter. The waste materials used in the exhibition have been sourced from the University itself and from other locations around Devon, including Exeter and Plymouth Scrapstores, Peninsula Waste Savers in Okehampton and the Devon County Council recycling centres managed by SITA.

Meet the Artist days on Saturday 9th and 16th May will give the public an opportunity to talk to some of the artist exhibiting and find out more about their work.

Entry to the exhibition will be free, and it will be open to the public from Monday to Saturday, excluding bank holidays, until the final Friday, May 22nd 2015. For more details, visit


detail Tumbleweed Caroline Saunders


‘One More Revolution’, an installation contemplating the virtue of the circular economy. The wheel, put together using bits of old furniture, returns to a cardboard floating forest; the old furniture cannot change back into a tree – it has to change into something else. The installation is made of materials derived from trees: wood, cardboard, magazines and paper. The wheel represents the circular economy, its components are clearly visible, revealing glimpses of what they once were part of and what they might change into.

Angela Read aluminium cans close up


Old cans cut and manipulated into an origami shape (the Fortune Teller) – The multiple shapes have been assembled to make a 3D structure. The drinks cans are packaging, designed to seduce. The can’s eventual state of dejection, its albeit brief history as receptacle, and the variety of surface graphics, appeal to me. My work is process based, using ritualised methods to articulate ideas involving decay, renewal, consumption, repetition and change.

Ben Yates Screwtopia! - Copy


This is a spin-off piece from Ben’s usual work – miniature cityscapes made from recycled circuit boards. All the computers and other appliances that Ben has dismantled over the years have yielded the thousands of screws and bolts that have gone into this space-age, micro-scale city. Waste not, want not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s