They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Nowadays, everyone is aware that reducing, reusing, and recycling is a powerful weapon in the battle to protect our environment, but for artists, to reuse and recycle has a whole different meaning. It is all about being creative and transforming trash into stunning works of art.
Once again we stumbled upon a project that proves recycling and reusing can be seen as an inspiring form of art. Julie Alice Chappell, a UK-based artist working in the city of Portsmouth, creates a wonderful world of butterflies and various insect sculptures using old circuit boards salvaged from discarded electronics.
Our world relies on electronics, and we constantly buy new products and discard old, but many people do not consider the environmental damage caused by tossed-away old electronics. Luckily, individuals exist such as Julie Alice Chappell, who makes a perfect connection between her passion for art and the processes of recycling and reusing to create something new, exciting, and most importantly, environmentally friendly.
“My art practice involves breaking down the pre-existing materials, reinterpreting them and offering them a new form with new purpose, creating something beautiful, whimsical and precious,” she said.
The idea came to Chappell years ago when she discovered a box of discarded electronic components at the Beneficial Foundation Materials Bank in Portsmouth, also known as the “the Craft Bank.”
This community scrapstore receives recyclable waste and surplus materials from commerce and industry that can be reused for creative projects.
“The first thing that came into my head when I looked at them was, ‘a mass of tiny bodies and legs…ants!’ I took them home to my children and we made ants.”
Years later, Chappell was enrolled in a Fine Arts degree program. During an environmental art workshop, Chappell met other artists who were creating giant robots out of circuit boards from vintage games and old computers. When her young artist colleagues abandoned their “life-sized robots” project, Chappell took the circuit boards home and began making her own creations.
Computer Component Bugs is the name of her project. The whimsical, beautiful winged insects with bodies made of old electronic components send a smart and powerful message that by recycling and reusing old unwanted things, we can save and preserve the environment.
“The recycled bits of cultural refuse that are woven throughout my work represents a direct encounter with the excesses of modern living highlighting the dangers of planned obsolescence and e-waste in the environment. The work displays an aesthetic beauty whilst offering a socio-political discourse, attempting to reclaim waste and the destruction of the natural world, in the beauty of visual art.”
Chappell uses her talent not just to create these delicate and fascinating sculptures of insects but also to help raise awareness about electronic waste that in recent decades has become a major factor in the pollution of ecosystems around the world.
In a world where about 20 million tons of e-waste are produced per year, Chappell hopes that her project will help people understand how important current environmental issues are and that everyone can make his or her contribution while being creative at the same time.