Plastic Bags

Animal Ecologies in Visual Culture

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, and Minding Animals International, a ‘bridge between academia and advocacy,’ are hosting an event entitled Animal Ecologies in Visual Culture at University College London on Saturday 8 October 2011. Information also available on Facebook.

Antennae’s website has all the back issues of the Journal available for download as pdfs.  Themes include insects, taxidermy, Deleuze, plastic bags.

Minding Animals has a range of networks, study groups and organises conferences.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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H20 – Preview: Dia Bassett

This post comes to you from Green Public Art

On May 6, 2011, H20: The Art of Conservation, at the Water Conservation Garden, San Diego, CA, will open to the public. Green Public Art reviewed over 1100 artists portfolios before inviting 14 San Diego artists to participate in the exhibition which offers San Diego homeowners an artistic alternative to incorporate water conservation into their own garden spaces. Green Public Art awarded each artist a mini-grant to develop their site-specific sculptures. In the weeks leading up to the exhibition opening the artist’s concepts will be revealed on this site. Questions? Contact Rebecca Ansert, Curator, Green Public Art at

Bassett.Dia Bassett.Dia Bassett.Dia

CONCEPT: My sculpture will mimic the flow and reflective qualities of water. By recycling plastic bags to build my structure, I urge others to consider our uses of man-made materials, especially that of plastic which takes 10-20 years to decompose. People do not recycle their plastics consistently, possibly because of the confusion of which kinds are recyclable. Here, I do not wish to mandate how we should consume products, but only to question how we consume them and to what degree we are dependent on them.  My sculpture will cover the rock layout on the east side of the Cactus and Succulent Garden with my crocheted plastic form.  The design will split off after 144 inches, as does the rock formation and continue to the end of this formation, 164 inches further.  The piece will be 48 inches wide, covering all the rocks laying on the ground, and will be anchored down with rocks as well as ground stakes

ABOUT: Dia Bassett was born and raised in San Diego, California.  She is a Masters of the Fine Arts candidate at San Diego State University.  She received her B.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2003.  In 2001, she began an eight-month stay in Florence, Italy to study sculpture, archeological conservation, and Italian.  She has a background in theatre, which led to her participation in the Eveoke Dance Theatre Performing Group from 2004-2005.  Most recently, she has exhibited works at UCSD in the Hyperlocal Identities exhibition. In June 2010, Dia traveled to London using the Isabel Kraft Sculpture Scholarship, in order to participate in an Oxford workshop with Lucy Brown and to research textile and art collections at various institutions such as the Tate Museums, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art, and the Saatchi Gallery.

Rebecca Ansert, founder of Green Public Art, is an art consultant who specializes in artist solicitation, artist selection, and public art project management for both private and public agencies. She is a graduate of the master’s degree program in Public Art Studies at the University of Southern California and has a unique interest in how art can demonstrate green processes or utilize green design theories and techniques in LEED certified buildings.

Green Public Art is a Los Angeles-based consultancy that was founded in 2009 in an effort to advance the conversation of public art’s role in green building. The consultancy specializes in public art project development and management, artist solicitation and selection, creative community involvement and knowledge of LEED building requirements. Green Public Art also works with emerging and mid-career studio artists to demystify the public art process. The consultancy acts as a resource for artists to receive one-on-one consultation before, during, and after applying for a public art project.

Go to Green Public Art

Halesworth in Transition: Uplifting upcycling! Stopping shoppers in their tracks

On Saturday May 22nd May Halesworth Thoroughfare saw an upcycling event, complete with hand-powered sewing machine converting cloth into shopping bags, companionable knitting of one garment by two knitters, and making logs from old newspapers.

The event stopped shoppers in their tracks. They were delighted to be given (no cost, no strings attached) a cloth bag to replace their plastic ones and many took patterns to make their own. The organisers now intend to continue their bag-making evenings at the Library, helped by the on-the-spot donation of a stunning Singer hand-powered machine by a generous passer-by. Brampton Primary School, who helped make bags for the event, will be continuing their sewing sessions.

Upcycling is a new word for taking old or unused things and making them into something better.

Organisers Halesworth in Transition (HinT) are part of a widespread and growing grassroots movement of people who are taking a positive attitude to preparing for the impacts of climate change and peak oil (when cheap and easy oil runs out).

For this event HinT had gathered material from generous Halesworth people including members of ‘Time Out’, Halesworth library’s social group for older people. HinT volunteers have been sewing up bags in evenings in the library. Brampton’s Primary School, who already have a reputation for their environmental awareness, also helped to make bags in the week before the event.

Every minute hundreds of thousands of plastic bags go into circulation globally. This wastes precious oil, creates mountains of waste and kills wildlife.

Many towns are already affiliated to the international Transition movement. Locally, this includes Bungay, Beccles, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Norwich, and Ipswich. HinT is not affiliated to any political party and is a non-profit-making organisation run entirely by volunteers.

For more information about this event and other activities phone 01986 875323 or email

CSPA Quarterly Available!

We are pleased to announce the first edition of the CSPA Quarterly! This edition of The Quarterly explores sustainable arts practices in performance, visual art & installation, green touring, and eco-policy. Articles include ‘Code Green: A Comparative Look at Worldwide Cultural Policies for Green Events,’ by Sam Goldblatt. This edition’s featured artist is Dianna Cohen, a Los Angeles based multi-media artist who is best known for her works using recycled plastic bags. Other contributors include Moe Beitiks, Linda Weintraub, Patricia Watts, Thomas Rhodes, and Olivia Campbell.

CSPA Fall 09 Cover


The issue is available through CSPA Subscriptions, or through our website at:

Bloggerscircle: why we need a plastic bag tax

bloggers-circleRob Greenland at The Social Business blog wrote, a couple of days ago:

It’s in the news today that supermarkets just missed their target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use (they got to 48%).  I’m not a big fan of supermarkets but I think on this one they need to be congratulated.  Remember the reaction against proposals to tax plastic bags, and how, many believed, people would never change their habits.

Far too many bags are still used but a 48% reduction is a massive improvement.  If businesses and the public can get their act together on this issue, what other seemingly impossible environmental problems might we solve?  It may also suggest that it’s better tonudge people into doing the right thing (like the clever question the checkout assistant was trained to ask), rather than taxing them into behavioural change.

50% sounds great, doesn’t it?

But in Ireland the introduction of a plastic bag tax in 2002 cut the use of plastic bags immediately by 90%, and created millions of Euros in government revenues which were pledged for use in environmental projects. Cutting ours by 50% is nothing to be proud of in comparison to that figure, especially as much of that 50% is people like Rob, me, and you, dear reader. The remaining 50% are inevitably going to be much harder to reach. Even with Tesco offering the carrot of Nectar card points for every bag reused, this is still too slow. It’s time to get out the sticks.

Like it or not, taxation is the most effective behaviour change lever government has. As Anthony Giddens suggests is in The Politics of Climate Change these are levers we’re going to have to use, and not be afraid of using. But the revenue used from these taxes must be used creatively and positively if we’re going to trust the system. Denmark’s carbon taxes, introduced in the 90s, have created an absolute fall in Co2 emissions from that country not only because they disincentivise carbon use, but because the revenue created by the fed directly back into subsidising energy-saving measures.

This post is part of a collaborative  initiative at

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The significance of a plastic bag

MICHAELA CRIMMIN: One of this week’s pleasures – pleasure with a big kick in its tail – was opening the October Gallery’s exhibition of work by Chinese artist Huang Xu, entitled Fragments. Big photographic works featuring plastic bags, tattered and torn and beautiful and fragile. For me these are warnings – plastic bags as a collective memento mori and curiously reminiscent of Dutch seventeenth century paintings of flowers. I’ll never look at a plastic bag in quite the same way. I know they were banned many years ago in Rwanda. How shameful is that? A country recently torn apart and they can think about the environment. And we seem to find that so terribly difficult.

The work in this exhibition refers to economic wreckage as well as environmental wreckage – and the two are anyway, as we know, very closely related indeed. Fragments. Wreckage and waste. We are all pretty much convinced that the consumers amongst us, across the world, are culpable of the most remarkable amount of waste.

There’s huge seduction in wealth as most of us know, and there’s also destruction. It seems entirely appropriate that the artist in his work does what other artists have done before – Huang Xu presents to us beauty in entropy. An integral quality of interesting art is its capacity to hold contradictions and paradoxes, and layers of meaning. This work is not didactic, it’s too complicated and delicate for that, but it leaves me pondering big societal issues which are ultimately of choice.

We are at this unpredictable moment in our history – despite ‘civilization’ – with societies themselves fragile and often fragmented. At the RSA this week we profiled a film on Burma, True Stories: Burma VJ, shot by brave citizens during the 1988 and 2007 uprising against a brutal regime – here’s one example among so many. Chuck in climate change, remember the recent cyclone in Burma, and we are at a moment in the huge sphere of time that will literally determine survival, or not, for future generations.

Another current version of environmental, social and economic melt down at its most literal is in Australia with the graphic, heart rending accounts heard and seen on the media this week. The consequent societal revenge-taking – blame – is mostly being directed at arsonists, rather than at the economics of forestry, or at climate change. So much easier to pin down an 18-year-old spotty pyromaniac than try and understand the bigger picture.

The October Gallery, working in partnership with China Art Projects, say on their website that their interest is the trans-cultural avant-garde. That is to say, the work of artists who, whilst working at the forefront of their own respective cultures, assimilate into their work elements from other cultures as well. Huang Xu’s work is a very good example.

And here perhaps it our salvation: we have an opportunity to join together in tackling the dauntingly enormous challenges by first acknowledging, often through images, the ramifications of what we are creating – the significance of a plastic bag whether you are in Rwanda, China or the U.K. may be ridiculously prosaic but it is also a signifier and an everyday prompt to change our damaging way of living.

Illustration: Fragment No. 1 by Huang Xu, 2007 October Gallery

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