Recycling Artist Creates Portraits From Trash

perkins recycled art photo
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With themes of environmentalism and climate change becoming increasingly popular in the art world, one artist in particular is putting eco-friendly philosophies to practice with portraits made entirely of unwanted objects. Recycling and reusing objects normally destined for the landfill has always been a creative process, but in the hands of a skilled artist, the practice can result in masterpieces superior to works crafted of more traditional mediums.

Such artwork has the power to broaden the imagination as well, turning the most unassuming trash-bin or cluttered drawer into an artist's palette. Inspired by Ecuadorian hairstylists, who are known to use broken jewelry and other shiny objects in their designs, British artist Jane Perkins began creating broaches from similar bits and pieces that would normally go unused. Since 2008, she's expanded her recycling technique to make portraits using buttons, toys, plastic forks--or nearly anything else she can get her hands on, according to BBC Brasil. Her work has been on exhibition in the UK's Devon Open Studios.


It all started because I have a huge collection of stuff that I have amassed really since childhood. I used to do embroidery and beads and more traditional kinds of things. We did a few recycling projects in my degree course, which I really enjoyed, and from that I started making things with beach debris
recycled art photo

As opposed to traditional forms of recycling, Perkins' art infuses the items she uses with even greater value than they had in the first place--but she still doesn't consider herself a recycler:

I think I would describe myself as a 'remaker'--meaning that I take things and make them into something else. I started with making broaches in my degree course using broken jewelry and plastic toys. Since then, I've developed into making portraits using found materials in this collage-y way.
recycled art photo

While politicians and world leaders have been the subjects of her portraits, they are not overtly political nor endeavoring to make a larger statement on waste--which is what makes her work so compelling. It is difficult not to be inspired to reexamine notions of waste or recycling when seeing what complex forms can be created from it. If we all look closely enough at all the material clutter of our lives, who knows what sort of possibilities will emerge?