Climate change, eco-artists and healthier sustainability practices have gained prominence in the corporate and social sphere as well as in the art world today. As environment-friendly businesses and entertainment practices gain importance, the arts have started shifting their focus too. Many art installations now use recyclable or recycled items as sustainable practice and oftentimes as social commentary as well. These large-scale installations focus on sustainability by using recycled and upcycled waste materials to make brand new creations. The results are awe-inspiring and packed with meaning. These installations show the only better way to preach ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is to practice it.
- The Bristol Whales, Cod Steaks
This large-scale sculpture depicts two life-size whales in a bright blue ocean. Situated in Millennium Square, Bristol, the sculpture is made entirely from recycled and eco-friendly items. The whales are made out of locally sourced willow and the ‘sea’ is 70,000 plastic bottles, discarded from local marathons. The sculpture was made for Bristol Green Capital 2015, a partnership to make Bristol and other European cities environmentally sustainable. The artwork is a literal representation of the problem plastic waste poses to our oceans and the sea creatures directly affected by it.
- A Shining Waste Landscape, Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard
This installation can be viewed as a literal reflection on the impermanence of mass-produced goods. The artists, Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard created this piece to juxtapose the arbitrary qualities of a CD with a larger piece that conveys meaning. The CDs all together give the impression of an undulating wave that has a liquid look to it. The CDs totalling 65,000, are all hand woven together to create metallic dunes. The installation is designed in an interactive way, where the visitors can walk through these reflective waves. The installation is in Centquatre at the Halle d’Aubervilliers building in Paris.
- Chandelier Of Spirits, Living Spirits
Presented in Marina Bay, Singapore, this public art installation was a temporary piece for i Light Singapore 2018, the country’s annual light art festival. A nod to the corporate character of the country, Chandelier Of Spirits is made up of refuse coffee bottles- the workplace fuel. 1,404 waste cold brew coffee bottles create an overhead hanging at a plaza symbolising the working community of Singapore. The chandelier douses its surrounding in a warm golden glow, lighting up the city after sunset.
- The Parting Of The Plastic Sea, Von Wong
Made up entirely of waste plastic straws, this art installation in Estella Place shopping mall in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam makes a meaningful statement about plastic consumerism. Von Wong uses 168,000 plastic waste straws to create a ‘strawpocalypse’; the last push to irreversible harm via single-use straws. This straw installation is a commentary on the waste single-use plastic straws create. The construction reflects the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea by Moses to lead asylum seekers to safe land. The installation is vivid and immersive, to be viewed as a message to change the route from inexhaustible plastic consumption to healthier and sustainable alternatives.
- Ray, Subodh Gupta
A giant spill of metal, this large-scale metal sculpture uses stainless steel utensils to create a larger than life spill from a bucket. The sculpture consists of pots, pans and steel boxes cascading out of a giant metal bucket. Gupta uses purely metal to create the installation and turns everyday objects into a grander piece. Installed in 2012, Ray was part of Subodh Gupta’s larger art show, ‘Everything Is Inside’ at National Gallery of Modern Art.