Scotland’s first ever waste management company Artist-in-Residence has brought a whole new meaning to “recycling” metal.
Perthshire artist Susie Johnston is working with Glenfarg-based Binn Group in a unique collaboration to create inspirational installation and gallery pieces using metalwork destined for the scrapheap.
“This has to be the least conventional – but most exciting – project I have been involved with,” said Susie, who works at Duncan of Jordonstone College of Art and Design at Dundee.
“To take redundant, rusted and battered pieces of metal and see them re-evolve as artworks is utterly compelling – I’m really enthused by the whole experience.”
Binn Group has provided an endless supply of scrap metal to help create the artworks, several of which will be available to view at Perth Museum as well as the entrance to Binn Group’s Shore Road premises in Perth, throughout Project 2018.
“I am constantly inspired by the unique qualities of scrap metal,” explained Susie. “I look at old exhausts and see spiders’ legs, or a battered and rusted drum and see a beached creature. Even cogs and washers and nails and heating elements all suggest something creative and exciting – every piece has a history, every piece has a story.
“In many cases the metal items dictate what they are going to be while other pieces are evolving of their own volition as I work with them,” she said. “Some pieces beg to be cleaned up while, in others, the rust and dirt are part of the character of the artwork. It’s been a fascinating journey for me as an artist.”
Susie learned to weld in order to fulfil her ambitions of working with Binn Group to recycle scrap into art.
“It’s another string to my bow,” she said. “My art school roots are in painting but my practice has over the years become sculptural, particularly whilst studying an MFA in Art & Humanities at Duncan of Jordanstone in 2014.It’s been compelling working within a different area of the art world.
“Binn Group is keen to encourage creative outcomes and diversification streams for waste and they have been a tremendous help to me throughout this project, providing training in welding, workshop premises, friendship and support and a never-ending supply of weird and wonderful pieces of metal.”
Binn Group’s brand and marketing manager Louise MacGregor expressed amazement and delight at the artworks created from the company’s waste materials.
“Binn Group is very proud of its recycling and environmental credentials and to see Susie take pieces thrown out by someone and breathe new life into them as fabulous works of art is just fantastic,” said Louise.
“We were more than happy to get involved with this project when Susie approached us and the results are even better than we had envisaged.
“Susie is a very talented lady and Binn Group is proud to be working with her for the Platform 2018 festival in order to take her creative skills – coupled with the underlying recycling message – to a wider audience throughout the event.”
It is hoped that Susie’s Binn Group metal works will find permanent homes after the festival – either at the company’s Binn Ecopark at Glenfarg, their Shore Road premises or in private ownership.