Plastic Pixel Art: A green gallery from your brown bin

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.”

The damning statistics of the worlds plastic waste. (Made with: Infogram)

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.

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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.

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“Well organised and well attended” – The Mayor reflects on a successful trip to Shropshire’s Pet Rescue Day

On Sunday 8th of April, Shropshire’s animal lovers gathered in Shrewsbury’s Quarry Park to raise some money for the local rescue charities. Dogs of all breeds and ages took to the grass to strut their stuff in an all welcoming dog show and it seemed as if all day the sun would just not go away.

Every 30 seconds in the UK someone phones the RSPCA’s animal cruelty line, resulting in 140,000 complaints of animal cruelty and neglect each year. There has been a 10% increase in cases of abuse in Shropshire too, with more than 1,400 complaints of animal cruelty being made in 2016. These were some of the damning statistics made available to the public at Pet Rescue Day.

Made on Infogram

The event itself was put on by Grinshill Animal Rescue, but they were far from the only charity to make an appearance. In total 22 animal rescues attended the event, with their support ranging from chickens, to donkeys to the dogs of Afghanistan.

Mayor of Shrewsbury Ioan Jones was also in attendance, he joined Grinshill and myself to tour the event stall by stall.

“The whole event has been well organised, well attended and the number of people and stalls here proves the need there is for support for animal causes within the county.” – Ioan Jones

The Mayor displaying his tombola winnings.

The day was a funfair of excitement and animals however, there were some much darker undertones. It is often easy to forget, having such fun in the sun, that the real reason we were there was to raise both awareness and money for animals that are treated so appallingly. A study by the Kennel Club that only 41% of dog owners ever saw their pups with their mothers, with 53% admitting that they had not see the breeding environment. This means that as many as half of the dogs we see on our streets could be bread from grossly unregulated puppy farms.

The Mayor was in high spirits following a successful day:

“We’ve raised quite a bit of money on our stall which helps toward our rescue, so on the whole I think it’s been a good day.” Said Kate Aspinall of Grinshill Rescue. £491.06 was the final figure on their stall, as well as all the money raised for the other shelters present. This amount  over doubled what was taken in any year previous which is fantastic news. The money will be put toward meeting the running costs of the rescue centre as the donations they receive, while good, just never seem to be enough.

Kate on Facebook

The aim of the event was to raise awareness and money but it surpassed that, as after their home check was completed recently, new owners have been found for Tilly the Terrier.

Tilly wasn’t the only pretty pup on show though, have a look at some of Pet Rescue Day’s finest animals: Albumizr (CC: Louie Hughes)