Skip to main content

there's beauty in recycling

Return tree sculpture on show at Centre Court in Market Mall, Calgary, Alberta. October 17 - 23, 2016.

Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation's (ABCRC) new sculpture celebrating the beauty of recycling has just been unveiled...
Sheri and Angela from ABCRC with a tired but happy Cory and Jeff, and Return - a tree sculpture
decorated with materials from pop cans and bottles, milk cartons, juice tins, and every kind of
recyclable beverage container that can be returned to depots in Alberta.

Recycled containers grow
into Alberta flora
Jeff de Boer, Cory Barkman, and I were invited to create an artwork that could help reinforce the beauty and value that comes from recycling beverage containers. Our challenge was to re-use containers from the bottle depot as key components of the piece, transforming the materials into something new.

Project lead and maker extraordinaire Cory Barkman proposed a tree to capture the vision: "So many Albertan's recycle, and the hand makes it clear that by our direct involvement in recycling we are consciously taking responsibility for how we use the earth's resources". The tree is supported by a human hand, and Cory added "The hand shows that such life and beauty is a precious thing to be cared for, and recycling is a way to say 'Thanks, we like it here and want to stay longer'". Trees also live very much longer than people, and Cory concluded that "As this beauty takes root within us, our actions begin to bear fruit and the tree branches become far reaching both to the earth, and to those who live on it".

Foliage, fruit, and flowers decorating the tree were my challenge. I drew inspiration from Alberta flora, with poplar-shaped leaves, and species of violet, forget-me-not, heather, daisy, and, of course, our Alberta provincial flower - the wild rose. There are many coloured berries, and larger fruits—our domesticated apples, pears, and grapes—all made from recycled pop, juice, and milk containers and lids.

Jeff de Boer worked closely on the tree with Cory and I and - as always - solved so many problems, made so many parts, and made the project happen (whilst finishing up his herd of gorgeous sculptures in the new international terminal at Calgary International Airport). Building connections between people, as well as helping to build their skills, has always been integral to Jeff's artistic practice, it is part of how he chooses to build art.

The tree sculpture has new and recycled materials, and we hope it will be enjoyed for many years. Eventually, all materials are returned for re-use or will be recycled - including the artists! The tree is a reminder that everything we use is just a part of a much larger life-cycle, and it is our choice to reduce, re-use, recycle, and finally, to return.



Links and more resources:
1.  The Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation commissioned this artwork as part of a larger campaign - The Beauty Of Recycling - to raise awareness of the value in returning beverage containers. You get your deposit back, and the materials get re-used to make new things. See more details at albertadepot.ca

2. Alberta Depot gave artists the theme of "Alberta flora" to inspire our designs. The Return tree leaves are shaped like those on our local poplars. I consulted this excellent manual to learn more about Alberta trees, shrubs and wild-fruits: Guide to the Common Native Trees and Shrubs Of Alberta by Inkpen and Van Eyk, Published by The Government Of Alberta.

All of the flowers under the tree are based on the colours and forms of Alberta wild-flower species, though they are obviously not to scale ;)  The reference used for flower details is Wildflowers Of The Canadian Rockies by George Scotter and Halle Flygare.

3. Links to the Return tree artists:
Cory Barkman - see amazing pieces of furniture, lamps, interior artwork and - of course - robots at corybarkman.com  Find Cory on Facebook.
Jeff de Boer - internationally collected artist, public art and art community builder, famous for armour for cats and mice. See pictures at jeffdeboer.com  Find Jeff on Facebook.
Christine Pedersen - thanks for checking out my blog, I'm on Facebook too.

4. If you're out and about in Alberta, you have probably also seen gorgeous recycled metal flowers and foliage featured on posters all over the province. These artworks were made for Alberta Depot by Calgary artist Sasha Foster.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#GroundsForDiscovery - a series of unlikely events, and how science and art work together beautifully

This begins about 110 million years ago with the death of an 18-foot long armour-plated ‘lizard’, some time after it had enjoyed a large salad. Six years ago the fossilized animal re-surfaced at Alberta’s Suncor Millennium Mine, as an excavator dug down to recover the bituminous remains of prehistoric plants and animals in the tar-sands layer. The Royal Tyrrell Museum and National Geographic hail the dinosaur fossil as the finest specimen of its kind in the world—it is the best preserved, with armoured plates and even some skin tone visible. It is also the oldest dinosaur ever found in Alberta. As yet un-named nodosaur fossil. Photo: Kristi Van Kalleveen. #GroundsForDiscovery See the nodosaur fossil up close in this beautifully photographed essay from National Geographic , published in the June 2017 edition. All of the Grounds For Discovery exhibit fossils were accidentally discovered during mining and excavation work in Alberta. As the Tyrrell specimen fact sheet
“Open Vessel”, 14” long, Southern Ice porcelain. Survived the bisque firing—phew—now ready for a high temp firing to mature the clay. Everything takes time…make, dry, fire, fire again. And there’s a lot of sampling. Some pieces will unfortunately fail, but they all provide information. All this process tries to make next time go better, to feel more informed. But these are raw materials and their character changes, even with refined minerals, making ceramics a pretty harsh teacher. It's a journey, and to quote Tony Nadal, tennis legend Rafa Nadal’s uncle/coach: “Stay humble, stay hungry”. The sample: “Skiff”, un-glazed sculptural porcelain vessel, cone 10 fired, and ready to go out in the world. Skiff—deep in the kiln, in amongst endless glaze tests, on the bottom shelf of the last glaze-firing. That orange sample in the centre is incredible, going to be seeing a lot more of that colour…  
Over Christmas 2021, I had a little moment and bought myself a gift: christinepedersen.art —a new web-site . I’ve been watching this project evolve for quite a while, and was thrilled to see that .art was offering an easy to use pop-up artist site builder ; I finished writing all the descriptions and up-loading my images yesterday. And so today I can relax, just a little, write a blog post… OK, back to work! All the not-actually-making-new-art-jobs truly take a huge amount of time. There's shooting photography and video  - then editing the photos and video (including new #shorts on Youtube), maintaining the written statements and documentation, and making social media posts...and if I’m lucky to write some show applications and send work out into the world, I might even have a rare chance to scrub up for an afternoon and share a glass of something nice with you in a gallery!   And I’m not complaining about any of it (even when I want to drop-kick my computer off a bridge after I