Innovative artists making art from trash

An exhibition showing how our daily trash can be transformed into art is being held at National Wetland Museum of China.

Sun Jiewei

A public rest area made out of a dismantled bicycle at the exhibition

An exhibition showing how our daily trash can be transformed into art is being held at National Wetland Museum of China through this weekend.

The exhibition came about when the School of Design at Zhejiang University of Technology, Bureau of Urban Administration at Xihu District and Wenxin community called for public entries earlier this year.

The organizers received over 300 pieces of artwork, from college students, primary school children and retired amateur artists, and selected 81 pieces to put on display at the museum.

Not all of the entries came from an art background, while the materials came from a variety of household sources, including fragmented eggshells, drinking straws, toilet paper tubes, plastic bags, deserted keyboard caps and construction waste, to name just a few.

It was estimated that people living in urban areas of Hangzhou produced 3.79 million tons of garbage in 2016, which increased by 3.36 percent. The mixed garbage is either mechanically or biologically processed. Mechanical processing means burying and burning waste, which accounted for 98.2 percent of the urban trash in 2016.

The Tianziling landfill is the largest of its sort in Hangzhou and more than half of household refuse is disposed here. Built in 1991, the landfill was expected to operate for almost 25 years. But the growth of waste in recent years has outrun its maximum capacity despite a second dumpsite being enabled in 2007.

Sun Jiewei

A copy of Van Gogh's "The Starry Night," which is made out of disposed drawing paper and toilet paper tubes

Hangzhou was among the first eight cities nationwide to carry out a pilot program separating urban waste in 2000. Based on a solid waste standard released in 2003, waste is classified into kitchen, harmful, recyclable and other.

Several works from the exhibition are made from kitchen waste. Pistachio shells, eggshells and fish bones form a landscape picture or, in one case, a Pablo Picasso influenced Cubist painting.

Some participants raised concerns over certain social issues. Three students from Zhejiang University of Media and Communications made a dismantled bicycle into a rest area, which may offer a solution to the piling up of rejected shared bikes in the city.

Shi Qingyao from China Academy of Art, introduced an installation with a sound effect. Shi collected trash dumped into the Yangjiapailou creek and hung them on a wire grid fixed on a relief reproduction of the creek. Visitors can listen to the flowing sounds of the water while looking at the polluted creek in front of them.

“Everyone acts as both the producer of the garbage as well as the participant of waste sorting and waste reduction,” said Li Ming, head of department of display and exhibition. “We hope the exhibition provides new perspectives to think about our relationship with trash.”


Date: Through June 24

Address: 402 Tianmushan Rd

Admission: Free


Shi Jia

A deserted TV set constantly plays advert songs while two bottles of expired cola toast to each other, enabled by powered gear fixed on them.



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