You may see this as a heap of rubbish ...... we see it as creative opportunity!

It’s a global problem on a massive scale. In the UK alone, over 400,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill each year. Each tonne of cotton in that clothing required 200 tonnes of water for its production. Meanwhile a million plastic bottles a minute are being produced – and the vast amount will simply be dumped, with many getting into the Earth’s rivers and oceans. Plastic of all sizes ends up in the environment – and in living creatures. 260 individual pieces of plastic were found in the stomach of one shearwater chick. One growing approach to this problem of discarded fabric and plastic is to upcycle it – turn it into something new and beautiful and thereby remove it from the waste stream.

Creating Value

Art involves transformation – and one of the finest types of transformation is to take apparently worthless material and turn it into something of real value. For this process, everything is a potential resource. Discarded clothing like men’s ties can be put together into a strikingly coloured dress or an elegant scarf. An old T-shirt can be turned into a Japanese knot bag. A scrap of denim can be drawn out to make an ornamental feather. Pieces of milk carton can be cut and dyed to make flowers – or shredded and extruded into printer filament which can be drawn into a lacework of jewellery with a 3D printing pen. The creative process starts with an attitude and a vision.

The project is based in Moray, a region of fields and woodland, with the Moray Firth to the north and the Cairngorms to the south. Sea forms often emerge in the resulting designs, coming from the curl of a wave or the wing of a fulmar, from sea-worn rocks to seaweed cast up on the sand. The aim is to share the vision and the skills needed to realise it. Through the support of the Moray LEADER programme, we’re going to run 20 workshops by the summer of 2020, in communities ranging from Buckie to Findhorn. We’re getting help from local groups: the Phoenix Centre, the Earthtime’s Up Project, Moray Arts Centre, Moray Arts for Wellbeing, and Findhorn Bay Arts – and we’ll also be creating a full-scale artistic installation.

Our Vision

We want to everyone responding to the creative challenge set by the discarding of fabric and plastic. When dumped, these materials pollute. But upcycled, they provide a valuable resource to keep for your wardrobe or sell for profit. Either way, the quality of the design is the key to keeping the new article out of the waste stream. The range of techniques available is great: techniques in sewing, dyeing, and in shibori –the art of developing 3D texture from a flat fabric. The more unlikely the material, the greater the creative challenge. These are the values we hope to encourage with this project.