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Hello everybody , My Name is Ruby
I’m going to talk about plastic in the natural environment and why I make recycled art. After the first couple of introductory slides you will see images of my work both as an artist and as a children’s workshop facilitator.
Ahhh plastic, plastic, plastic … everywhere… as far as the eye can see
The extent of the environmental impact of plastic pollution in the ocean is a world wide catastrophe.
Since the 1950’s we have been experiencing a Great Acceleration – Ecosystems changing rapidly and extensively.
Manufacturing plastic is dirty. There are 3 major processes in plastics manufacturing. At every stage one of the greatest wastes is heat, as well as unnaturally concentrated chemicals. Plastic is not a natural substance, there is no ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’, it decomposes to a concentrated chemical soup that poisons.
Animals are dying.
People feel apathetic, negative, hopeless.
I am deeply concerned and to express this I am making a collection of wearable art made from recycled and found plastic.
I am a recycling artist.
I rescue things from landfill : Plastic – Textiles – Paper – any thing
By making wearable art I hope to draw attention to the pollution of the seas by exhibiting pollution on the body.
On the other hand, plastic is fantastic!
The bright shiny objects produced are unlike anything else before in history. Plastic has revolutionized life.
High class designers like Coco Chanel popularised plastic jewellery and helped to eliminate class distinctions with the uniformity of mass production.
Plastic cloth and accessories have changed the way we dress and consume fashion.
Plastic is Fantastic! Imagine modern life without the bikini!
Lycra is a fabulous plastic cloth it has special plastic properties of strength, stretch and absorbability allowing more flesh to be revealed, while carefully maintaining some modesty.
Fantastic plastic! The fluoro colours of the 1980’s would never have been possible without plastic!
Hair combs, banana clips, scrunches, false nails, oversized sunglasses – we can thank plastic.
The economics of mass production means that it is more profitable to manufacture 10,000 plastic items than 10, encouraging people to treat plastic as disposable. This is were it has all gone wrong …
Another important positive use of plastic is food security, although I think it important to consider the irony of plastic packaging used as a symbol of freshness and saleability inside the shop. BUT when the plastic wrap has been removed an object loses its value. In consumerism only ‘packaged’ has value. The same plastic as discarded waste in rivers and on beaches triggers reactions of disgust and despair.
So Why am I making Wearable Art??
People have always played body decoration games, sending signals of social class or availability; individuality or conformity. Sometimes these games are disfiguring, sometimes they are subtle.
Feminists of the 1970’s who used their own bodies in their art created some of the most radical and provocative works we remember. In response to mass media and social and cultural stereotypes feminist artists have attempted to reclaim the image of the female body.
By using the body as a canvas I aim to communicate and explore socially confronting issues.
There is a long standing tradition of subversion through clothing. Punk, grunge and deconstructionist cultures have all created clothes responding to the hopelessness and disenchantment of anarchistic urban youth. Fraying hems, ripped knees, seams on the outside, paint, rust and bleach as fashion items were shocking, especially to the layperson.
Sending cut-up, abused clothes down a catwalk is a revelation society is still recovering from.
Modern advertising encourages consumerism by focusing on shopping details that proclaim our individuality. Fashion gives people a way to negotiate the constant dichotomy between the quest for self and the need to belong.
A handmade garment is a proud symbol of rejection of mass-produced clothing. Wearers can rejoice in knowing the garment was made by an individual rather than an industry.
It is the disposable way we treat plastic that is problematic. I firmly believe that the manufacturers of plastic should be responsible for the full life cycle. If the total costs (economic, social and environmental) were considered plastic would be worth its weight in gold!
By sourcing my material from rubbish bins I am rejecting the wealth of material available in retail stores, I am limiting myself to the discarded.
Please REFUSE plastic where you can …
If you do feel the need to buy something to express your individuality … buy a song! buy a picture! Buy a beautiful piece of hand made wearable art !!!
Finally, I must thank Council, who have recently awarded me a sustainability grant.
Thanks to Glen O’Malley who took some of the fashion photos.
Thanks to Barbara Head at LuLu’s modelling agency for including my work in her fashion parades.
Thank you everyone.
Hope to see you at Carnivale on the 17th May for the Bag Bride and at Ba8 on the 31st May to support the Turtle sanctuary on Fitzroy Island.