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EcoArt & Sculpting using Found Objects

EcoArt & Sculpting using Found Objects

The use of found objects in art is generally considered to be a relatively modern style, with it's origins lying in the Dadaist movement of the early 20th century. It involve using discarded, bought or salvaged items to create a larger work- often by combining them into a new form, modifying them or through reinterpreting their intended use. The movement is generally considered to begin with Duchamp in 1915, with his innovative and controversial move to place an existing object into the gallery space. It's intended roll was reconsidered, and new meaning was given to an otherwise mundane item.  From this beginning, the movement of found art has grown and evolved.

Often there is a strong association between found art and themes of environmentalism, with discarded waste objects being re-purposed and recycled into art. The process of creating found art is arguably relatively simple & inexpensive to pick up, and so its popularity as a medium has grown enormously. It’s popularity among artists, art students and even in more “DIY” areas such as ‘up-cycling’ mean that found object sculpture is an increasingly growing and evolving field. With concerns mounting regarding waste, and plastic waste in particular, across the globe and a general increase in eco-awareness amongst people this method has been adopted as a call-to-arms against ecologically conscious artists.

Given the typical use of salvaged or recovered items in found object art, such works often tend towards figurative, abstract or nature based works. The contrast of the materials and subject, and the methods used to create them often are a key part of the message behind such a work. Blue whales made of discarded plastic, trees constructed from scrap metal or animal forms from abandoned appliances are all likely found object constructions. One such example in the park is the “Four Horse of the Apocalypse” by Anthony Heywood. Constructed from an array of found objects such as televisions, toys and milk crates, the abstract works rearrange and modify these items into a completely different form. The construction methods required in found object art, the natural variation in the items, and the nature of the items being used mean that overt realism is often difficult to achieve.

Works constructed using found objects are sometimes considered to be evolving pieces. It is not uncommon to see parts of these pieces replaced with other objects of the same type to keep them refreshed, or to see artists building on their work over time. The ability to replace weathered, aged or loose parts with new pieces can give the work longevity and the ability to be maintained in a way that other artworks may not necessarily have. The beauty of found object artworks is that the artist may choose to remove and replace but the work will always remain the same. Some purists argue that this may affect the integrity of such work, but providing the artist is keeping with their message and the meaning behind a work it can help develop and evolve the work. In keeping to the original scheme, an artist may evolve or repair their work in much the same as a painter restoring works, with sympathy to its original intent.

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