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Art & Culture

Plastic waste, from childhood nightmares to a recycling dream

By August 14, 2020August 27th, 2020No Comments
Ding Dang ©Aurora Robson – photo by Marshall Coles

Canadian artist Aurora Robson crafts her whimsical sculptures from plastic litter to raise awareness about the world’s plastic pollution nightmare.

Multi-media artist Aurora Robson is best known for intercepting the plastic waste stream and re-purposing the collected material into fantastical sculptures and 3D paintings. Born in Toronto and raised in Hawaii, her work is a formal meditation reflecting recurring nightmares she had as a child, mixed with forms found in nature.

Robson aims to ‘subjugate negativity and shift mindsets’ through her practice. Most of her work over the past decade has centred around exploring plastic debris as a viable art material. In 2009, she founded Project Vortex, a growing international collective of artists, designers, architects and other creatives who work with plastic debris, with the shared aim of supporting conservation initiatives. This project stems from Robson’s passion for developing integrative methods to encourage artists and creatives to utilise ocean plastic as a raw material. 

Since 2014, Robson has been developing and assisting with the implementation of the course, Sculpture + Intercepting the Waste Stream. The course is designed to foster creative stewardship through academia at colleges, universities and high schools around the world.

“We think of plastic as disposable when it is precisely the opposite, so I extract it from its problematic destructive fate and utilise its potential to become a source for enjoyable reflection. It is a process of rescuing, de-contextualising and romancing. Developing more appropriate, robust and integrated methods for managing our residue is essential at this time. I see creative stewardship as a future positive way of art making that provides elements of creative problem solving and present day relevance to any studio practice. “

Aurora Robson

While she initially incorporated common household plastics like water bottles and caps in her work, she is currently focused on large scale sculptures made with industrial plastic. She also paints and creates 3-dimensional collages made with junk mail and excess packaging.

Watch Aurora Robson speaking about her work in this BBC video:
Turning plastic pollution into fantastical dreamscapes