The Found Series by Michael Aaron: making art from discarded materials

Michael Aaron Williams, a young American artist from Knoxville, Tennessee, has created art from discarded materials.

Found series 1 by Michael Aaron - on old railroad ties.

Found series 1 by Michael Aaron – on old railroad ties.

He uses the materials he has found as a canvas to create intense and almost disturbing portraits. The organic and decomposing state of the pieces adds to the raw visual effect while also showing the beautiful transformation the artist has achieved.

Found series 2 by Michael Aaron - on old rusty sheet metal

Found series 2 by Michael Aaron – on old rusty sheet metal

Michael Aaron seeks to save materials from their fate and repurpose them, making them into something that is valued and appreciated.

 “These pieces are done on things that have been found on the side of the road, railroad tracks and in old barns. Basically it is about using something that would have deteriorated over time if left where it was and taking them into the studio and making something beautiful out of them.”

Found series 3 by Michael Aaron - sheet metal

Found series 3 by Michael Aaron – sheet metal

He does not only experiment with different materials, but also different techniques in composing his work. The piece below has been created using a process of burning the wood rather than painting it.

Found series 4 by Michael Aaron - burnt onto old barn wood

Found series 4 by Michael Aaron – burnt onto old barn wood

Each portrait is simple yet captivating and very real, showing the artists ability to capture human emotion.

Found series 5 by Michael Aaron - this one is on an old wrecked up carhood

Found series 5 by Michael Aaron – this one is on an old wrecked up carhood

The Exbury Egg: A Floating Art Studio

Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

The Exbury Egg which is now floating in the Beaulieu Estuary, is possibly the first water born artist’s studio. It was designed to combine art, architecture and sustaining a fragile marine environment. Artist, Stephen Turner, who specialises in long term artistic explorations of environmental settings, worked with the designers to create the Egg.

Exbury Egg. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Exbury Egg. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

He is using the wooden structure as a floating ‘residency’ for a year, to allow him to examine the changing patterns of its marine ecology and to produce artwork that raises awareness of the importance of protecting such fragile places.

“I wanted to intervene in the landscape at a key moment when climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats. Established salt marsh is being eroded by a combination of rising sea levels and falling landmass and the entire littoral environment is in a state of flux. The implications for wildlife and flora as well as people are challenging and raise awareness of a particularly 21st century sort of tension.”

Steven Turner. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Steven Turner. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

The project is led by the Space Placemaking and Urban Design (SPUD Group). SPUD project manager, Phil Smith explains:

“Everything about this project looks to the value of our environment and sustainability; from the design and build of the Egg, to working with Stephen Turner to raise awareness of environmental change, to creating a cross curriculum education programme for schools and colleges.”

Interior of Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Interior of Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

The inspiration for the Egg came from nesting seabirds on the shore and was designed by Stephen Turner in conjunction with PAD studio. It was built locally, by boat-builder Paul Baker, the cold moulded cedar plywood sheathed structure is approximately 6 metres long and 2.8 metres in diameter. The ageing of the wood will also be tracked by Turner.

Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Stephen explains his pivotal role in the project:

“My contribution to the design concept of the structure itself was its symbolic egg form, that will decay and change during my occupation; turning the egg into a calendar revealing the impact of 365 days of changing weather and tides upon its surface. My idea is to show that nothing is forever and that understanding and welcoming such change should be part of our sustainable relationship with the rest of nature.”

Interior of Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Interior of Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Interior of Exbury Egg showing the bathroom unit Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Interior of Exbury Egg showing the bathroom unit Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Power will be provided from a series of photovoltaic panels which will trickle feed into several domestic car batteries that the artist will change over on a weekly basis. This will allow him to run a computer and charge a mobile phone so that some contact with the outside world is maintained. Monitoring devices will provide daily data readings of the amount of energy being generated and consumed which will be displayed on the project website.

Exbury Egg. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Exbury Egg. Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Grey and black waste will be fed into holding tanks which will have to be carried by the artist to a local septic tank, and fresh water will be brought on board on a daily basis.

The project architect, Wendy Perring, explains:

“It was our intent to explore the creation of a minimal impact live/work structure, using materials with a low embodied energy sourced within a twenty mile radius, and put together by a team of local craftsmen using centuries old techniques. We want to test the minimum someone needs to live quite comfortably, and how we can minimise the impact on the environment.”

Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

Inspired by the estuary and its ecology, Stephen Turner will incorporate the Egg into his artwork; a developing record of his work will be available for the public to see at Exbury Gardens and on the project website.

Exbury Egg Photo courtesy of Nigel Rigden

All photos courtesy of Nigel Rigden.

Hundertwasser’s Public Toilet

New Zealand, land of astonishing natural beauty, landscapes that almost seem false as they are so incredible and unusual. Land of sensitive and unique flora and fauna, tatoos, the haka, sheep and cattle…and err interesting public toilets. You may think it strange that such a facility is to be featured on this blog for it’s design aesthetic, but it is a pretty strange sight.

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Travelling up to the northern tip of the country to a small town called Paihia, I noticed the small vibrant structure immediately. At first it looks more like a small brick a brack shop or a tourist vendor. However as you come closer you will notice the sign written in multicoloured and individually styled letters reading the words “Paihia’s Wee Toilet”.

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The small box like building is decorated with metal toilets that have been converted into plant pots. Long wild grass potrudes from the disused boat that sits on the roof. Wooden benches line the small coves, proving practical for waiting children. The sloping walls at the entrance allow for a degree of privacy while washing your hands while also welcoming in sunlight. At night the public toilets light up in neon pink and green making it look even more inviting but also fooling some tourists into believing it is a silent dance venue.

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And who may be responsible for such an eccentric piece of architecture in the middle of a tiny remote town on the other side of the world – Hundertwasser of course. The eccentric artist and architect spent a considerable amount of time in New Zealand and although his contribution to Paihia’s architectural landscape was small, it is certainly significant. He would have no doubt also been pleased to know that it was certainly the cleanest public toilet I have ever visited.

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Around the World in 80 Chairs: The Tyred Chair, Cape Town – South Africa

A combination of Roy Lichtenstein, South African slang and upcycled design. Yameng Li has reimagined a simple recycling idea into a work of art, by painting this unique tyre chair in collboration with Tyred, at the Design Indaba Conference 2010 in Cape Town.

Tyred Chair by Yameng Li

Tyred Chair by Yameng Li

Yameng Li painting the Tyred Chair

Yameng Li painting the Tyred Chair

Street Art Bogota

This painting was hidden away on a quiet street in La Candelaria, the old town in Bogota, Colombia. The style was similar to some of the street art we saw in Cartagena but had a more sinister look with darker tones. The weather in Bogota is a lot colder and more cloudy than Cartagena, but La Candelaria is still full of a vast amount of incredible street art and the colonial adobe houses are painted in bright colours. It has a very creative and inspiring feel and the huge green mountains looming over the neighbourhood make it all the more intense and inspiring.

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