Aurora Robson: Intercepting the Waste Stream

It is estimated that over 5 trillion pieces of plastic are currently polluting our oceans. In Australia, over 15,000 plastic PET bottles are littered or landfilled every single minute of every single day.

At Upcycle Studio, we’re not only passionate about beautiful art and design, but we are invested in helping to promote those who actively try to tackle this staggering problem.

Aurora Robson, a multi media artist from Toronto, is one of these amazing people. Currently based in New York City, her work consists mainly of sculptures, reliefs and installations that are made from PET bottles and other plastic debris.

The art she creates is not only strikingly beautiful but carries an important message for society. She believes that by taking these materials and transforming them from ugly trash into something of value, that she can change people’s perceptions about waste.

Kamilo, 2011, 48″ x 48″ x 55″, plastic marine debris

Her sculptures and installations use intricate patterns, often almost floral shapes with thin and delicate plastic components. Aurora expertly utilizes the inherent colours and reflective quality of the materials she uses, her pieces almost seem lit from within.

Ambrotos Aurora Robson
Ambrotos, 2011, 24″ x 24″ x 26″, plastic debris (PET), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic + mica powder

One installation, called ‘Everything all at Once’ was comprised of 16 sculptures made from over 3000 plastic bottles and 300 bottle lids. Each piece was suspended from the ceiling, which Aurora explains is to force her audience to look up at the artworks, symbolically changing their point of view and signifying optimism and hope for the future.

Everything all at once

Some pieces are made from as many as 15,000 bottles and are often sourced from places that are meaningful for the location of the installation. One work, created for a US bank in 2007, was made with over 9000 bottles taken directly from the banks rubbish bins.

Rational Optimism, 2012, 18″ x 18″ x 27″, plastic debris (PET), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic + mica powder
Rational Optimism, 2012, 18″ x 18″ x 27″, plastic debris (PET), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic + mica powder

Another work, used material from beach clean ups in Hawaii, to highlight their plight with international garbage. The profits from the sale of this piece went into helping clean up the beaches of Hawaii (the first clean up yielded 50 tonnes of trash from all over the world).

Synesthesia, 2011, 32″ x 32″ x 36″, plastic debris (PET), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic + mica powder

Another Upcycle Studio favourite is a sculpture called ‘Pulp Fiction’ which is made from 100 Tropicana juice bottles and was created as a protest against the company for changing their packaging from cardboard cartons to thick PET containers.

Pulp Fiction, 2011, 32″ x 32″ x 46″, plastic debris (PET), rivets, tinted polycrylic + mica powder

Aurora not only makes beautiful art, she also encourages students to get involved in intercepting the waste stream themselves. The founder of Project Vortex, she has created a college course which focuses specifically on the problems of waste in our oceans as well as encouraging students to explore their own sustainable artworks and designs.

Proceeds from student artworks go towards cleaning up local waterways.

You can explore all of Aurora Robson’s fantastic collection of artworks on her official website and have a listen to her funny and inspiring TED Talk above, ‘Trash + Love’.

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