As far as putting them in the recycling box, very little thought is given to just where our recycled goods end up. If you live within the parameters of the map below, there’s a good chance your former bottle tops have wound up at Sarah Mai’s Plastic Pixel Art exhibition at Participate.
Plastic Pixel Art is the name artist Sara Mai has given to the repurposing of plastic bottle tops as a source of pigmentation, the idea is to revalue the bottle tops as an art medium. To see some of the work click here.
“Instead of throwing them away or letting them flow into our watercourses, we actually reuse them here and now in a positive way.” – Sara Mai
As part of the installation, fact sheets cover one section detailing the history of plastic. Sara outlined an important connection between plastic, water and Art: “The most important thing as an artist on these (fact sheets), is when you look at the 1960’s, which was the introduction of water based acrylic paints, so here you’re looking at artists mixing plastics and water. What I’m trying to do is raise the value of our waste plastics, so they are no longer thrown away, ending up in our watercourses.”
An important aspect of Sara’s work is the community feel, for the weeks the installation runs, members of the public are welcome to come and sift through kilo after kilo of bottle tops to help create Sara’s pixel pallets. There is also the chance to produce your own plastic pixel creation, as well as interactive games such as bottle top building, which as you might imagine really does keep the kids entertained for a few hours.
Sara’s ‘Have A Go at Plastic Pixel Art’ installations have made appearances at a number of events in Shrewsbury alone, these such events include: Shrewsbury’s Food Festival, Shropshire Kids Fest, Reggae for Refugees and Self Help Africa.
It’s been no easy feat for Sara looking after 15m² of bottle tops, especially when having spent over a decade collecting them all. The caps first spent time in storage, only to be evicted into Sara’s back garden in Belle Vue, which was never going to be a long-term solution. A bottle cap will take 800 years to fully biodegrade so they were perfectly safe out in the elements but it can’t have been the best view. Finally, the caps have a roof above their head in the Participate gallery, where they can be stored between exhibitions and events.