Helena Lacey has gathered the things thrown away at the University and has turned them into the artwork Academic Waste.
The final year Fine Art student has created three clear cylinders on stands which she has filled with broken glass to represent chemistry, paper to represent English and metal offcuts to represent engineering. The cylinders are placed around campus outside the Students’ Union, in the University Quad and in the Claremont quad.
“I wanted to create something which showed students and staff the impact of the work that they do here every day,” said Helena. “I’m really interested in issues of sustainability and the environment and know that the University works really hard to meet its goals. But, I don’t think a lot of students have any idea of all the work that goes on around them to make this happen.
Art has the power to change society
Helena’s work is inspired by conceptual artist and politician Joseph Beuys who came up with the idea of social sculpture, where art has the power to change society.
“I hoped by outing these recyclable materials on show in a very visible way, it would get people thinking about the impact of University life and what they can do to help,” she said.
Fine Art lecturer David Butler added: “This is an ambitious and large scale project that embodies the ways students work outside the Fine Art department developing the artistic and professional expertise they will need after graduation. Helena has worked very successfully with people from a wide range of disciplines demonstrating how an artist makes new connections and creates impact.”
Getting the message across
Helena is artist in resident for the university’s Institute for Sustainability and worked closely with the Estates team to find out more about what the University does.
University Sustainability manager Hannah Owens said: “As a university we produce large quantities of general waste on a daily basis, it is important that we minimize this and recycle as much as possible in order to reduce our overall environmental impact. The contribution that staff and students make is vital, and we want to encourage everyone to use the facilities on campus in order to increase our overall on-site recycling rates.
“Helena’s sculpture really helps to get this message across.”
Academic Waste was funded by the University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice. It is launched on Wednesday, 15 March at 5pm and will be on display on campus until June.