Around 100 artists in Old Trafford have contributed to a book full of rubbish – literally.
The Rubbish Art Book features drawings and paintings of litter found on the streets of Old Trafford, all created by residents who deal with the problems caused by rubbish every day.
The 200-page glossy bound book featuring over 100 ‘rubbish’ works of art is being launched on 4 June by OT Creative Space, a community arts group and studio led by Lynda Sterling.
Held as part of the Ayres Road Festival, the launch will also include indoor and outdoor exhibitions of the original art, with festival goers encouraged to identify items of rubbish art that have been placed throughout the site.
The artworks were created by Old Trafford residents during a series of workshops developed by artists Liz Lock and Mishka Henner, who wanted to highlight the problem of litter in Old Trafford in a positive way.
Mishka, who is originally from Belgium but lives in Old Trafford, is an award-winning visual artist who has exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries.
He explains: “As residents of Old Trafford, we wanted to find a way to talk about rubbish without resorting to the usual complaints or rants. Instead, we wanted to use art as a tool for reflection and for bringing people together.”
The workshops attracted artists of all ages with varying levels of skill. Participants were invited to bring the rubbish they found on the streets on their way to the workshops, with Mishka and Liz providing a series of drawing exercises to help find a way to represent the litter using a range of techniques including pencil, charcoal, watercolors and crayon.
Mishka continues: “I’m always trying to find more engaging ways of using art to describe or reflect on cultural and social issues. It doesn’t matter how skillful you are or how well you can handle paint or a pencil. What matters is simply taking the time to make marks on paper, discuss whatever’s on your mind with strangers and friends, and enjoy the process of making and reflecting.”
Sally Hirst, from Old Trafford, created several pieces including one which used a child’s discarded drawing she found in the street. “Even though the child clearly thought their drawing was rubbish, I saw the beauty of it from the crunched-up texture to the way it was folded and the colours used,” she says.
“The workshop helped me see the beauty in everything – even rubbish! Everything has a worth, and every piece of rubbish tells a story.”
Ravinder Virdee from Old Trafford, agrees: “It was truly inspiring to create art using rubbish,” she says. “Who would have thought such beauty could be found in litter?”
OT Creative Space founder and visual artist Lynda Sterling, who received funding from Arts Council England for the project, says: “The work that Mishka and Liz do is perfectly aligned with what we’re passionate about: bringing art to the community and using it as a tool to highlight issues.
“The rubbish life drawing classes they developed for the project fitted perfectly with our mission as a community creative space. Their vision for a book took it one step further and has given the community something we can enjoy on a more permanent basis.”
And, says Mishka, a book full of paintings and drawings of rubbish doesn’t mean Old Trafford is a rubbish place to live.
“On the contrary,” he says. “We love it here and hope that the skills and talents of our fellow residents and neighbours shown on the pages of the book help people think twice about littering.
“These days, the Council and Amey seem to react quickest when you tweet about them. And although books are a slower form of communication, they’re permanent in a way tweets aren’t. So we’re keen to see how our book will circulate in the community.”
The Rubbish Art Book costs £5 and is available to buy from OT creative SPACE from Saturday 4 June. The book also includes space for people to add in their own rubbish drawings.