I first became interested in recycling plastics on a trip to India in 1998, where I saw the effect of plastic water bottles collecting in piles on the streets and plastic bags littering the desert in Rajastan. In India they had beautiful buckets, jugs, plates etc made from recycled stripy plastic and they looked so much more attractive than the plain green or beige ones you could buy in this country. When I returned to university I was determined to find a simple way of recycling plastic waste – primarily plastic bottle tops which were not recycled and went to landfill, and hence my little cottage industry ‘plastikrap’ was born, using an oven and an old bookbinding press.
After graduating from the University of Brighton in 2000 with my BA(hons) in 3D Crafts and the Universities prestigious Innovation award for my recycled plastics, I set up Green Gallery, promoting my own work and that of other artist’s working with recycled materials. It can be a real challenge persuading the public to see value in goods made from recycled materials, although perceptions are changing all the time, and I enjoy being part of this process.
I have always been interested in making things from rubbish and repairing things – I think it gives an object more personality and originality.
Initially I was making bags from my recycled plastics which were well received; I won two awards and two bags were purchased by Hove Museum and Art Gallery. Since 2007 I have been working with lighting, which is made from milk bottle plastic (HDPE) which I fuse with vintage lace and second-hand net curtains. I buy these pieces of lace from all over. If I’m on holiday, I’ll always pop into the local charity shop to check out the net curtains. By treating these bits of material in a completely different way and giving them a new life, they become beautiful. All the intricacies in the lace are illuminated when the light is switched on.
I worked full-time for three years as a teacher and technician of Design Technolgy from 2005-2008, and then part-time as a Plastics Technical Demonstrator at the University of Brighton until 2011, where I also completed my MA in Sustainable Design at the University.