Sarah Darling has found a novel way to recycle old milk bottles, she recreates them into extraordinary and monumental works of art.
Sarah Darling’s THINK TANK, which is being shown as part of Devon Open Studios, is made up from hundreds of plastic milk bottles shaped together into a gigantic curl like the inner chamber of a sand worn sea-shell. A shell you can walk into, and then find yourself encased within.
I found myself standing inside its cylindrical centre, peering up at a convex mirror feeling puny and insignificant amongst the ripples of bottle bases; a fitting reaction to the oceans of plastic waste we throw away every day. And then there’s the eerie blue light. It caused a sensation at her degree show at North Devon College last month with reams of comments in the visitor’s book.
Sarah decided to return to college as a mature student and originally began with embroidery, but given a free rein, her interest in sculpture began to reveal itself. She soon moved to making forms in card and then onto much bigger structures, discovering the potential in throw-away objects particularly when they were duplicated. She now makes large installations, exclusively using reclaimed materials such as old bottles and empty jars.
The immersive environment of the Fine Art course, run by Pete Newal, inspired her to see a further use for the things we discard.
She said: “I came from a background where there was use for everything but today everything is disposable have always seen other applications for things particularly when they are replicated. I see the potential. The pieces take on a life of there own and ‘make themselves, like a seed out of a pod, my forms grow in a natural way even though they are made of un-natural materials.”
Other works such as Crystal Fall were made from washed drink bottles which she melted over a flame to shrink them down to hard crystal-like forms that can no be longer be identified. She strung them together with nylon fishing strings and hung them from a tree by a pond in her water garden where the wind fanned them out in the breeze to reflect across the water.
In order to make the Fall she had to cut the coloured ring tops from the bottles and repelled by the waste she stacked them in old Perspex display boxes to create a wall of colour that plays in the light as the sun shines through them.
Even a basic college exercise based on the town of Appledore led to a completely original work made of old cans coated in seaweed and bladderwort and ground up muscle shells. The piece is characteristic of the development of her observational skills and is made up of a slope of tubes evocative of the spherical holes in the concrete sea wall and the undulation of the tidal river.
As a mother of five, Sarah always noticed how the family generated enormous amounts of unavoidable disposable household litter. Recycling is second nature to her and she feels strongly against the profligate waste that has become commonplace in society. Her hope is that her work will focus attention on these recycled materials and people will find value in them again.
Sarah Darling is showing her work at Lee House, Marwood, Barnstaple, EX31 4AZ
• Devon Open Studios runs until Sunday, September 19
- Artist Sarah Darling’s got a lot a bottle! (Devon Open Studios feature) - September 13, 2010