Recycling Art Competition | Brisbane City Council

The Salvage Recycling Art Competition explores the creative potential in reusing and recycling household items and furniture.

Will Davy was voted the winner of the 2017 Recycling Art Competition for his Cable Harvester Bug.

Second place was awarded to Michael Littler for FAX (after Boccioni) and third place was awarded to Claire Tracey for The Phoenix.

The artists found their materials in Council’s tip shops and other second-hand stores around the city, and created artworks with their reusable treasures.

This competition explores the creative potential of reusing and recycling household items and furniture, and inspiring others to see the possibility in things that may have otherwise have been thrown away.

Artists and their art


2017 winner - Will Davy - 'Cable Harvester Bug'

As an artist and tinkerer in Brisbane, Will creates gadgets and kinetic sculptures using recycled everyday objects. Will views these objects as having an alternative purpose and this forms the basis for his artwork.

About the artwork

This artwork depicts a robotic dung beetle collecting copper, lead and steel cables. It is inspired by the introduction of fibre optic cable technology that is replacing existing copper cabling in cities throughout the world. Will takes inspiration from mechanical objects that resemble shapes found in nature. The collection of curved forms determines the final creation.

Created from second-hand instrument stands, plumbing parts, radio parts, lamp shades, gym ball, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, a transformer, electrical cable, motorbike parts, fuel case and cowling, car parts, lights and a hair dryer. Dimensions: 185cm x 110cm x 125cm.


Second place - Michael Littler - 'FAX (after Boccioni)'

Michael is a graduate from Queensland College of Art with a major in Sculpture. He's worked as a professional studio assistant for the last 15 years. Michael uses bricolage techniques to apply recycled materials as assemblage in his work.

By juxtaposing discarded 'man-made' items into a new whole, the work can appear slightly absurd and abstract. Michael's approach aims to challenge the viewer's impressions of concepts such as 'utility' and 'novelty'.

About the artwork

This artwork explores the idea of recycling and reusing through an ambiguity of meaning in the artwork FAX (after Boccioni). There is a sense of fluidity carved within the form of stacked books that is both nostalgic and adaptive. An ironic nod to the exponential development of technology and our relation to it.

Created from 180 second-hand books. Dimensions: 104cm x 84cm x 34cm.


Third place - Claire Tracey - 'The Phoenix'

Claire is a Brisbane-based contemporary artist who has worked on environmental art projects in Australia, Mongolia, Turkey and China. Within her practice, Claire transforms manufactured, everyday objects to raise awareness of a range of contemporary social and environmental issues. 

About the artwork

Inspired by Greek mythology, Claire uses her artwork to show the possibility of something being born again, recreated and repurposed into a new life. The Phoenix is inspired by the detrimental effect of plastic in the natural environment and in particular the impact of plastic on ocean bird populations. Through her work Claire invites you to find whatever opportunity you can to repurpose, upcycle and recycle.

Created from pre-loved plastic toys, homewares, furniture, cutlery, toothpicks and cable ties. Dimensions: 100cm x 100cm x 30cm.


Karen Benjamin - 'Once I was eight'

Karen is an award-winning, eco-friendly artist who uses only recycled materials. Karen's arts practice grew out of her concern about the overwhelming amount of 'rubbish' going into landfill and memories of her grandmother knitting plastic bags and sewing curtains into clothing. Karen lives by the mantra 'reduce, reuse, recycle' and conducts workshops about sustainability in schools and art galleries and with not-for-profit organisations. Karen's work aims to draw the viewer in with colour and joy and to prompt them to think about their own recycling habits.

About the artwork

This artwork explores representations of childhood past and present and has been inspired by Karen's experience as a childcare worker.

Created from pre-loved textiles, board games, puzzle pieces, toys, books, children's chairs, pencils, fake grass, milk crates, ukuleles, wool, books, jewellery, timber and sticks. Sourced from Council tip shops and other second-hand stores. Dimensions: 150cm x 75cm x 126cm.


Cate Collopy - 'The Herd'

Cate creates art that playfully presents new ways of working with recycled materials. Her work combines memorabilia and emphasises the repurposing of materials. Story is woven around the work, inspired by the materials, their first uses and the places they were sourced. Her work includes sculpture, assemblage and mixed media using materials such as metal, wire, plastics, found objects and domestic and industrial discard.

About the artwork

This five-piece assemblage explores the creative possibilities of materials that may otherwise be thrown away. Inspired by the artist's observation of herd behaviour, it makes a statement about the need to break away from the herd to initiate change.

Created from assorted biscuit and cake tins, golf clubs, light fittings, tableware, coaxial cable, copper wire, bed springs and aluminium cans. Dimensions: 110cm x 130cm x 130cm.


Susan Gourley - 'The Taste of Waste'

Susan is a Brisbane artist completing a Doctorate of Visual Arts at Queensland College of Art. Her focus is on exploring the role that waste and recycled materials have in contemporary Western culture. Susan is inspired by discarded materials and uses them to critique current social, cultural and environmental issues. Using discarded materials enables her to embed a 'make do' strategy, which invokes resourcefulness and inventiveness in her work.

About the artwork

This artwork uses a culinary aesthetic and 'taste' as a metaphor to critique ideas of waste and consumerism. Here recycled materials are disguised through the act of trompe l'oeil to create an over-sized cake adorned with an assortment of life-size chocolates and flowers. The aim is to employ satire to highlight the relationship between humans and environmental issues and concerns.

Created from a second-hand coffee table, gold paper, cardboard post tube, MDF board, felt pieces, steel frame, polystyrene, golf tees, acrylic paint and fencing wire. Dimensions: 160cm x 100cm x 100cm.


Katherine Grocott - 'De-Gradation'

Katherine Grocott is a jewellery designer who utilises found objects and recycled materials in her work. Katherine takes a minimalists approach in her work with clean lines and contemporary design defining her jewellery. Her commitment to environmental sustainability influences the design process, particularly through the use of recycled materials including silver, copper, acrylic, plexiglass, plastic and gemstones. 

About the artwork

This collection explores the concept of gradation, in size, colour and tone. Katherine has incorporated materials found at Council tip shops with microcentrifuge tubes, sourced from commercial waste which are hand-dyed in graduating tones. Katherine encourages other people to make and repair jewellery and hope they are inspired by her work.

Created from plastic bowls and plates, a spherical jigsaw puzzle, plywood construction toys, screw cap microcentrifuge tubes, fabric dye and craft ink. Dimensions: 30cm x 10cm x 30cm.


Ian Kulpa - 'The Kitchen Table'

Ian pains in acrylics, using everyday images that are transformed into cartoon-like art with the use of vivid colour and line work. Most of Ian's work is about local Brisbane icons and his recent works have explored the transformation of furniture into colourful centre pieces. Ian refers to his work as 'comic pop' art influenced by the work of Roy Lichenstein.

About the artwork

This artwork explores the role of the kitchen table and is inspired by the artist's own experiences growing up. Ian remembers that as a young child, the kitchen table was the place where his family came together and communicated. When his family got their first television that began to change. The family sat and watched television in the lounge and abandoned the kitchen table.

Created from a second-hand table and chairs. Dimensions: table - 100cm x 100cm x 100cm; four chair - 100cmx 50cm x 50cm.


Matthew Newkirk - 'Work, Buy, Consume, Die'

Matthew is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Brisbane, who has been exhibiting for more than 14 years. His work explores themes around society and location, in both the physical and metaphysical. Matthew likes to investigate working with new materials and mediums to explore the many facets of contemporary art and life. He favours working with distressed second-hand materials as each piece is unique and tells a story of the life that it has lived.

About the artwork

Matthew's three-channel video work presents a non-linear narrative that speaks of the daily cycle involving consumerism, waste and reuse in our society. Matthew uses found objects to demonstrate that they have already lived a life.

Created from second-hand projectors, televisions, DVD players, scrap wood and a digital camera, video camera and computer. Dimensions: 170cm x 78cm x 60cm.

More information

For more information about this year's Salvage Recycling Art Competition:

17 January 2019