Durban artists make gems from junk

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A wonderful initiative has been taken by Artisan Gallery that features recycled art from computer waste, used tea bags and electro-plated nickel-silver (EPNS) cutlery.

With conservation on everyone’s mind, South Africans Shirley Krause, Barbara Rishworth and Aubrey Situ are going green through their art.

Rishworth fell in love with art from an early age and knew she wanted to go into the field so she studied fine art in Joburg.

Her EPNS cutlery is made into eye-catching pendants, rings and bracelets: “I found that what I loved about recycling is that it tied in with a responsibility to the planet. Recycled materials were available that were cheap and my whole outlook is that it’s not what you look at, but how you look at it.

“So for me, this recycled jewellery was something people could afford, something people wouldn’t feel guilty about and something I could generate as fashion items by using resources I have and keeping it local.”

Rishworth finds her material at scrapyards, second-hand shops and charity shops: “I look for anything people have thrown out and make something out of it. I like my art to give the public a new way of looking at things.

“It has a story behind it and had a previous purpose and that really intrigues me. There’s a quirkiness about it and it gets your interest in a different way. It’s not just what it seems to be.”

Krause is also a talented, creative artist. From used tea bags she has created beautiful gift-bags which have leather thong handles and an almost suede finish.

Explaining her technique of using the tea bags in an innovative way, she says it began four years ago: “I looked at all the tea bags we were wasting, only so much you can empty in the garden each day. I washed the tea bags and left them to dry, only to notice a beautiful stain that developed from the tea. After a while, I thought I would try to turn these stained bags into gift bags.

“When I realised they looked really good, I went a step further and put sparkles, ribbons and roses on the bags for birthdays, and for Christmas I used red and green decorations.

“Little did I know that I would have orders locally, when my daughters showed them to work colleagues and friends. The gift bags grew from then on.”

Then there’s Situ who is originally from the Eastern Cape. Sharing how his passion for art developed, he says: “I first became fascinated with art after watching people making crafts. And I thought maybe I could do the same, but in the form of jewellery.”

His art is made from computer waste which has been recycled into unusual and funky earrings and necklaces: “I wanted to bring new products into the market. And if people like it, I want to take it a step further.

“The beauty of it is that it’s used from stuff people don’t look at twice. They just throw it out and it’s about conserving the planet. By making recycled art, I’m trying to keep the planet beautiful and people can feel happy and proud to wear these fashion items.”

• For info, call the gallery at 031 312 4364.

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