By Chrissy Bonham
Today as I commenced my bleary eyed early morning dog walk, the sleep was very quickly blown from my eyes when I saw a front garden full of flowers made entirely out of rubbish collected from the streets! As I rubbed my eyes, I really could not believe the beauty I was seeing in something made entirely out of waste plastic bottles.
There was a sign in the front window stating ‘Welcome to the Hawksley Avenue Flower Festival, Wednesday 19th – 26th August 2015’. Intrigued by the motivation behind this installation, I dropped the dog off after his walk and then made my way back to Hawksley Avenue to knock on the door and hopefully meet the creator of this wonderful piece.
I was welcomed into the home of Brian Marsh, an artist and architectural designer who was more than willing to tell me the story behind his project. He created the installation as a reaction to the large amounts of litter discarded in the street where he lives and in his home town in general. It was also mounted in support of the current ‘Clean Sheffield’ campaign, and to promote a litter-free city.
The original inspiration for this piece came from a motorcycle tour of the North of Thailand where he developed an affection for the pristine jungle environments. He was impressed by the sometimes ingenious ways in which nothing was discarded which could be recycled or repurposed to become a functional or artistic object.
On his return to the UK earlier this year, Brian produced an installation at the University of Barnsley which consisted of an Urban Jungle. It was constructed from discarded packaging complete with heat and humidity, swampy conditions underfoot, a jungle soundtrack generated from urban sources, and both sodium and neon lighting. This all resulted in an authentically oppressive and unnerving jungle experience, and it received some excellent feedback. It was described as ‘a great experience’, ‘thoughtful, ‘intelligent’, ‘inventive’, ‘a striking piece of work’, and in the words of one person ‘bonkers’!
In the spirit of recycling, some of the items created for this previous installation are now ‘double recycled’ and utilised in the current Hawksley Avenue Flower Festival installation. Brian commented: ‘I am proud of my home city in so many ways, but am always ashamed and dismayed when I see litter discarded without any thought to the environmental consequences and the eyesore this creates.’
Brian hopes that the flowers in this installation might be further used by others. I’m certainly hoping that Brian may have started something which could have the potential to become an annual event across the city, with local art groups and other services taking part to create gardens made entirely of waste products to brighten up the streets of Sheffield.
The installation can be viewed at 105 Hawksley Avenue until the 26th August and any applications about workshops or more information about Brian’s work are welcomed by contacting him at: firstname.lastname@example.org