So I’ve taken my dumpster diving to another level and enlisted the school staff in my pursuit of discarded materials, placing containers at tea-making facilities around the school late last week. Despite my reservations that this request may be viewed as just a bit too odd (and potentially smelly and gross!) I was pleased to return from emptying the containers yesterday with a hearty and surprisingly fragrant-smelling stash. Placing the teabags to dry in the sunny window of the classroom adjacent to my space has drawn only a few perplexed looks from students and, in fact, I’ve overhead a couple of comments concerning my creativity, which I’ll take as a compliment.
And why am I collecting teabags?
I’ve chosen teabags as a symbol of the proliferation of ‘things’ around us that we overlook or discard as worthless. There are lots of products that could serve this purpose (look in your rubbish bin, recycling bin and almost anywhere you store things for examples) but I happen to find the paper of a dried, used teabag rather beautiful and creativity inspiring.
I have a bit of a thing for discarded paper, have you noticed?
When I’m not playing with paper my other chosen medium is porcelain clay, which I used to make functional vessels of various forms. Doing this in a consumer environment of low cost, mass produced domestic ceramic wares brings me to question how objects are valued: what is the non-monetary currency that makes any one object more or less valuable than another like object?
Books are also a good example of objects whose value is placed in question in the context of our contemporary environment, largely thanks to the Internet and other digital technologies. In searching for discarded materials within the school environment I recognised a synergy (and irony) in the availability of discarded printed information in the form of newspapers from the library. This caused me to question how and why we value any one form of printed information above another. Also how, and at what point, is any object transformed from being of value to being discardable?
So the idea still needs more investigation and a lot more experimentation with processes, but within the form of a book and the use of discard paper products I think I’m onto something.
Stay tuned, but for now here are a couple of my experiments.