Recycled Art, a form of Environmental Activism

Highlighting waste and the environment through art.

Upcycling is no doubt an inspiration, with designers, artists, furniture makers and zero wasters all taking items, which would end up in landfill, and giving them a second life.

Art is one of our passions, and we believe that recycled art as a form of environmental activism can be thought-provoking on many levels. So, we have done some delving to understand what upcycled and recycled art is and why it is important to our cultural experience and education and we showcase three artists who’s work we find truly brilliant.

What is upcycled art?

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value. – wikipedia

Why is recycled art important?

There are a number of benefits to recycled art, perhaps the most important being, extending the life of materials which are difficult, expensive or impossible to recycle.  Creating worthwhile, beautiful pieces of art which will be cared for and admired is important too, after all, what would be the use of creating something from waste, only for it to be thrown away after a short time. This understanding, is perhaps why there are artists who create recycled art with a great degree of skill and imagination.

Art has the power to inspire action. Artworks, sculptures and installations, made from waste materials which are damaging to the environment, such as plastic, can help to highlight the problem and open conversations to bring about change.

Below, we showcase a few standout artists who have taken their talent, skill and imagination to another level. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have.

BRIAN MOCK

Sculptor, Brian Mock from Oregan, USA, has been creating art from 100% reclaimed materials, such as nuts, bolts, screws and cutlery since 1997. His work is intricate with thousands of pieces all hand welded to create unique pieces.

Brian is a self-taught artist who began exploring art at an early age with drawing, painting, and woodcarving, and developed a passion for upcycling back in the 1990s. He taught himself to weld, and has incredible skills that turn discarded everyday metal items into the most breath-taking sculptures of animals, people, musical instruments and more.

We are huge fans of his small Octopus (main image) as well as the life-size cats and dogs which all feature in his collection.

Octopus by Brian Mock, Artist | Watson & Wolfe
Small Octopus 17in (L) x 7in (H), by Brian Mock
Cat by Brian Mock, Artist | Watson & Wolfe
Life-Size Domestic Cat, by Brian Mock
Molly by Brian Mock, Artist | Watson & Wolfe
'Molly' Life-Size Labrador by Brian Mock

You can see more from Brian on his website and Instagram.

CAROLINE BERZI

Egyptian artist Caroline Berzi made an impressive move to being a full-time artist, after seven years as a financial analyst. Her works are impressive, with a focus on painting, serigraph, and installation pieces.

We particularly love her first solo exhibition called GENESIS, which focused on upcycling and in particular the use of waste plastic bottles.

“The story behind the start of the upcycled artworks began after my return from Italy and I noticed that there was no policies governing the production and sale of plastic materials in Egypt (includes plastic shopping bags, grocery packaging, plastic bottles and many more), and is a highlighted problem worldwide and causing a major setback in marine life. I decided to be part of the initiative to raise awareness in my surrounding and educate new behaviors which I learned while in Italy that help curve environmental issues.”

Caroline’s work is undulating, colourful and eye-catching. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian heritage, the sacred flowers Caroline creates with the bottles are symbolic across the artworks to represent nature’s fragility and beauty.

Environmental Art by Caroline Berzia | Watson & Wolfe
Art by Caroline Berzia, Upcycled Art | Watson & Wolfe
Art by Caroline Berzia, Recycled Art | Watson & Wolfe

You can see more of Caroline’s work on her Instagram page.

SEATY

Originally from the south of France, SEATY has become an emblematic Contemporary Artist of the 21st century and has exhibited all over the world.

We love the Art from SEATY, not just for it’s raw urban feel and the vivid colours, but that often his pieces are created on reclaimed signs, wood and even cardboard, which came about during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The idea came to me during the first lockdown when I ran out of materials and found myself unable to order any canvas boards. Nearby there was a pile of cardboard in my studio. Because I want to keep an urban spirit in my creations, this meant cardboard was the perfect solution as a stand-in canvas. Before I started painting there was a little bit of cutting, assembling and painting needed, to get the aged style that I was looking for.

It’s true that I wanted to promote recycling and to give a second life to a small piece of cardboard – and even a personal challenge to sublimate or embellish what we usually consider to be waste.”

Dwarka Sur Bois, Art by SEATY | Watson & Wolfe
Dwarka Sur Bois, by SEATY on Wood
Turmi, Art by SEATY | Watson & Wolfe
'Turmi', by SEATY on Cardboard
Kingston, Art by SEATY | Watson & Wolfe
'Kingston' by SEATY on No Entry sign

You can read and see more pieces from SEATY on his website and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in the article ‘waiting for climate change‘ which looks at the thought-provoking art installations by Isaac Cordal.

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