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Friday, 6 April 2012

Not Rubbish Art... Art Made of Rubbish!

Mrs. Frog by Haley Kendal

I've been following some amazing artists on twitter lately... and some have inspired me with their bold and unorthodox ideas! I have found adorable handmade animals (via @leanimale) and self-expression photography (via @kfreemanexposed)... I have found magnificent photos on Pinterest (via Ozlem Yikici)... and finally, I have found... Rubbish Art.

Before you get outraged, let me clarify. The art is not rubbish and it definitely does not indicate anyone digging through rubbish bins or something third-worldly like that (although I must say, it's popular in my home town in Bulgaria!). One example are @ApostrophePong's dump photosBut the spotlight today goes to the fantastic art of UK artist Haley Kendal, who make strange little beings out of found and discarded objects. Basically, she recycles things which nobody else wants... that's what I call environment-friendly!

You can find Haley tweeting at @KendalSculpture and blogging at Haley Kendal Sculpture

Without further ado, here's Haley talking about what she does. Come say hi!


My name is Haley Kendal. And this is how it all started... Inspired by American Folk Art and the whimsical world of Julie Arkell, I made stuffed fabric cats and put them in decorated box frames. I created mixed media canvasses and painted wooden hearts. About 6 years ago I started selling my work at craft markets but I didn’t enjoy it.  

"It ended up becoming a production line to fill a table which didn’t excite me and sapped my enthusiasm."

This led me to the decision that when my son started school I would enroll into art school.  I went in with the idea of coming out as an illustrator, I have always loved drawing but after a module on sculpture that was it, I just got lost in the making.

The first time I stumbled upon working with found and discarded objects was one summer when I was adamant I wanted to build a working 5 ½ ft wooden light house. I couldn’t afford the cost of materials and was in the process of re-evaluating the whole idea when, leaving work one evening I found a discarded wooden crate outside a café and grabbed it.  I was so excited that I had the start of the materials I needed!  I sourced the rest from a grocery store who were more than happy for me to recycle what was meant to be thrown away.  

("I Got One")

"This felt so good, not only was I saving money I was also being kind to the environment by upcycling unwanted items."

Looking back, that was the start of working with found and discarded objects although I hadn’t fully realised it until a little later on. I made my first strange being when I was working on a self initiated project on collecting and hoarding.  I was enthused by the work of Mark Dion.  The ThamesDig especially but also the way he catalogued his findings and displayed them.  Drawing on my own personal experiences and living on a farm with sheds stored full of 30 years worth of stuff, I had access to wonderful bits of metal, wood and forgotten objects, and it just seemed to be staring me right in the face.  

("Private Inkerman")

"I would go round with my bucket, fill it with goodies, catalogue them and then start creating sculptures with the finds!"  

It is fascinating how all these objects are made for different purposes and have distinct functions but unite when placed together to form one of my characters.  I had been keeping an old black and white television my late Grandpa had given me.  It didn’t work anymore but I couldn’t bear to get rid of it so I took it apart and set out to reuse as much as I could and make myself something new, something desirable, something I would look at and think of my grandpa fondly.  That’s when it began!  

On a rather low day I sat down in my workshop (which is mostly made from old doors) and I started assembling objects, adding bits, taking them away.  I am always studying the materials thinking about texture, colour and composition then suddenly a little face looks up at me to say ‘hello’.  Once they say that, I have fallen for them! 

("Cowboy and Mule")

"Now I still go round with my bucket but I also go to car boot sales, charity shops, woods and the estuary to source materials."  

Each trip I make to the estuary I come home with a coconut!  I have quite a few now!  One day I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them!  I always have my eyes to the ground as I don’t want to miss out on the potentially crucial piece I may desperately need one day.  I re-use the eyes from creepy old plastic dolls (the whole process of removing the eyes is not a pretty sight!) and I have a drawer full of their left over body parts for future projects.  

I draw inspiration from Henry Rasmusen and Art Grant. Their 1967 book ‘Sculpture from Junk’ is my bible; it’s the first book I found that mirrored the way I work. And I never get bored with making my strange beings.  Each one is completely unique, everyday is different and every find is thrilling.

To see more of my art, please visit my website. It's nice to meet you all!