I met some more members of the team at the Recycling Centre today and we had some really good Rubbish Conversations.

I asked them what the strangest thing they’d had thrown away was. After a bit of thought, the strangest thing one of the team said was money. People throw money away. Not just by accident, which does happen, people throw foreign currency away too. Even current GBP is thrown away in house clearances and such like where people don’t have the time or inclination to sift through everything. Jewellery gets chucked away too – gold in amongst costume jewellery. They try to sift through things like boxes and bags to retrieve valuable materials that can go in the Revive charity shop but it’s not always possible, and depending which skip it ends up in, might not be retrieved in the materials processing either.

Today there were a lot of items thrown away that were outgrown and out of fashion. This mirror was no longer wanted due it’s dated look. It’s 50 years old and was bought in a second hand shop originally, 50 years ago, before they were called charity shops. It will go back into the on site charity shop for resale:

These modular shelving units were thrown away because they’re not on trend any more, again retrieved for resale:

A daughter’s roller skates that have been outgrown:

A daughter’s desk who has finished her full time education:

I love collecting the stories behind these rubbish objects and finding out why they are now ‘rubbish’. It would really interesting to follow the items through the recycling shop and find out where they end up going and for what reason.

I also had a delivery from a lovely women off our local trashnothing! network of magazines to use in upcoming workshops and collages and gleaned a shiny bin lid from the skip.


I spent the morning on site today meeting the team, talking rubbish and talking some photos.

We had a good chat in the office about rubbish: the sorting categories and value of rubbish. Apparently there’s no money (for them) in glass which surprised me, whereas metal (unsurprisingly) and cardboard are the most value.

Materials are either worth something or they have to pay to have it taken away to be processed. Glass is cost neutral. The glass bins are clear, brown and green. Someone had left a blue gin bottle by the green bins in an uncertain guess. Blue glass should go in the clear bin apparently.

We discusssed people’s perceptions of the centre and that calling it a tip is irksome. “People come and literally tip stuff in the skips without bothering to check it’s the right skip sometimes.” The media play a big role in the perception of the recycling services and do the team no favours in the public perception and negative attitudes. We also talked about Brexit and how that might affect rubbish.

We talked about the site users and I loved that they have ‘regulars’ that stay for a chat.

I chatted to one person who was getting rid of some paint for a relative. He had just split with his fiancé who had moved out and he was clearing out the house. He’ll redecorate now for a fresh start. Split paint / tainted paint.

I went into the Revive charity shop on site and had a nosey around. It’s a treasure trove in there and the juxtaposition of objects is brilliant. There seems to be a high turn over of copulating animal salt and pepper figurines.

I had a good chat with the staff in there too. One of the team told me there are three women in total across all the Calderdale sites and some the older generation of the public have told her this is no place for a woman, and she’s too glamorous to be here. I would actually love her job, although apparently it’s freezing in winter. Another one of the team told me that the public often say in summer things like, “We’re paying your wages to stand around in the sun!” which they find ridiculous because they’re not just standing around and what about the other half of the year – been paid the ‘stand around in the freezing cold’?

We had a really good about consumer society and throwaway culture: how working here has been a real eye opener to what people throw away and why. House clearances and getting rid of items after a death or break up is common and people just want rid. Then there’s the built in obsolescence and continual upgrading to the almost-identical next product. How it’s changed from the years when things were built to last and passed down through generations.

Another guy was telling me about having a washing machine for years and years: When they redid their kitchen they got a new one that kept breaking and they had the engineer out several times in the first year. Then I found this book in the hoards and hoards of books in the shop:

So of course I bought it and will take it back to my studio. I’m hoping to have some studio time in between working on site to ‘process’ everything: all my scavenging from the charity shop and the photos, stories and information I’ve gleaned.

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As I gear up for my first proper day on site on Thursday, I’ve been making some collages out of discarded/recycled (charity shopped) materials combined with Suez’s leaflets (which inevitable become recycled materials too).

The first one of these (above, front and reverse side) I sent to Louise Ashcroft as part of her mail art project Penpals I’ve been involved in (sending each other art in the post that responds to the previous piece).

I’ve made some more collages and am looking forward to my regular scavenging in the plentiful book section of the Brighouse Recycling Centre Review charity shop.

I also watched The Secret Life of Landfill which was really insightful about the history, present and future of landfill. Suez’s main targets are around recycling and minimum landfill and I also found this little promo video on the history of Suez.

One of the previous Rubbish Conversations I had with the area manager and site manager was about the terminology we use. They don’t call it ‘rubbish’ or ‘waste’ – everything is ‘recyclables’ or ‘household recyclables’. As my whole Master by Research was looking about these definitions this is really key. Their categories are all about material composition – also a crucial art labelling component.

I’m really looking forward to my weekly/daily recycling!


I’ve had the Suez site user induction at the Halifax transfer site which is mostly common sense with a bit of jargon thrown in for good measure. There was a test at the end! Which has inspired me to maybe incorporate a little rubbish quiz into the end of my festival talk/performance.

The induction talked a lot about being aware of your environment: top (weather), middle (equipment/machinery), bottom (terrain) and the importance of safety workwear. I’m kitted out in steel toe cap boots and have got a hi vis vest printed.

My official start date on site is 6th September.


Thursday 11th October, 1-2pm

Brighouse Household Waste Recycling Centre, Atlas Mill Road, Brighouse

Alice Bradshaw is Brighouse Arts Festival 2018’s artist in residence and will be based at Brighouse Tip researching & undertaking Rubbish Conversations, culminating in a public performance on site on Thursday 11th October at 1pm.


The Guided Tour will be a performative walking tour of the Brighouse Household Waste Recycling Centre on Atlas Mill Road in Brighouse. Free to attend, booking recommended but not essential.


The tour will start at 1pm, please be prompt as safety is important on site. Audience will be at own risk.


Alice will also hold an exhibition at (venue tbc) for the duration of the festival.