Waste piles up in Refinery spaces

03:04, Jul 04 2012
Lisa Grennell
MELTING: Lisa Grennell with work from her exhibition Infested.

The rising tide of human waste and the threat of climate change are explored in artworks at the Refinery Artspace this month. Anna Pearson reports.

Infested - Lisa Grennell

The sticky mess from the melted iceblock appears as blood, which artist Lisa Grennell says references the effects of climate change on vulnerable animals and children.

"Everyone's got a story to tell about ants. I thought I would use them as a theme of infestation as a condition of climate change," she says.

"I want it to be playful – that's why I'm drawing on the walls. It's not supposed to be sad or anything. I'm hoping people see the humour. I admire ants, how they have a way of coping and adjusting to change. If you stick something in their path, they will find a way around it and keep going. I think we tamper with things a bit too much. We want to just kill, crush and destroy. Sometimes I just wish we could leave things alone."

Grennell graduated from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design in 2010 and has been working furiously ever since.


She says the street art she has created for the Refinery, using screen-printing techniques, is a way of commenting on the effects of climate change.

The works feature children playing, butterflies, a boy and a dog. "They're simple, precious moments that our children are not experiencing anymore, with modern technology."

The children are suspended in "nothingness". They're facing an uncertain future.

The Rising Tide

A waterfall of plastic water bottles is streaming from a pipe in the outer gallery at the Refinery Artspace.

The waterfall was designed and created by three Bachelor of Arts and Media students at NMIT as part of an object sculpture project.

Chrissie Cleary, Marc Lenton and Didi Bleinagel collected about 800 bottles from the recycling centres in Nelson and Richmond.

They wanted to highlight the amount New Zealanders spent on bottled drinking water and how much plastic waste was produced by the consumption of something that runs free from our taps.

The 10-metre-long installation, woven together with nylon string, is making the rounds around town.

It has appeared on Nelson's Church Steps as part of the Hyperwaste Art Expo, flowing down the stairs. It has hung from the G-block atrium in the NMIT arts and media building and now, it spews out of a pipe at the Refinery. It splays out on the floor in a pooling effect made possible with the addition of a further 800 plastic bottles.

Cleary says they were inspired by English designer Michelle Brand, who once created a chandelier out of cut-off bottle bases.

Lenton says he'll no longer buy bottled water after seeing how much waste it produces.

"I think it's something that a lot of people don't really think about," says Cleary.

The Rising Tide, which was curated by the Refinery's resident artist Nick Haig, also features an installation of used paper coffee cups by NMIT tutor Catharine Hodson.

Switch, as the installation is called, features a pyramid of used coffee cups – there's even a residual scent of coffee.

Haig says: "What role can art play in addressing the ecological imbalances created by fossil-fuel capitalism? Is the climate change `debate' reflective of a collective crisis of imagination? What are some of the problems involved in making waste an object of aesthetic pleasure? Working with everyday emblems of our excess, the artists exhibiting in The Rising Tide give shape to such perturbations."

Hyperwaste Art Expo

It's where waste education meets art.

The Hyperwaste Art Expo was first displayed at Church Steps as part of an event organised by Nelson Environment Centre waste education services school facilitator Sarah Langi.

The exhibition featured more than 30 sculptures from Nelson schools and early childhood centres and was timed around Matariki, to represent the new life of the recycled products. It aimed to use creativity to change people's attitudes and shed light on their wasteful habits.

A selection of about a dozen works from the expo are being used as an extension of the environmentally-themed shows at the Refinery this month.