Rubbish, garbage, debris, junk, leftovers, litter, refuse, scrap, crap, shit, trash, waste, ruins, remains, rejects, discards, shreds, dirt, detritus… Practice based research into contemporary rubbish in art practice and news from the Museum of Contemporary Rubbish.


I visited BasementArtProject’s latest exhibition curated by artists Gordon Culshaw and John O’Hare last month and reviewed the show for Corrior8 (first published on Corridor 8, 25 May 2015):

Roadside Museum featured a selection of artworks excavated from a twelve-month burial in a roadside field in West Lancashire. Curated by artists Gordon Culshaw and John O’Hare, the ‘art residency’ involved 13 artists’ work selected from an open call, which were then buried in a designated plot and exposed to organic decay in naturally acidic soil. The excavation process was documented and featured in the exhibition alongside the remains of the artworks.

The exhibition venue – a terraced-house basement in the Beeston area of Leeds – echoed the underground habitat that the artworks had resided in during their year-long ‘development process’. Not all the original artworks survived the burial and the fragments of those that did presented varying degrees of fragility. Preservation measures, such as the plinth which encased Peter Trukenbrod’s (miniature/reconfigured ‘Equivalent VIII’-esque) ‘Sugar Cube’ and Stig Evan’s text/painting fragments in ‘Untitled’ which were cleaned and fitted into display units, performed the conservation function of museological display. However, the stuffiness and pomposity usually associated with the display of priceless and rare museum artefacts were disrupted by the several artworks which were able to be handled.

The works spanned various media from painting and sculpture to sound and photography. Several artists utilised analogue media, such as tape cassettes and slides, as if to suggest that the burial and unearthing of this media were symbolic of the resurrection of the postmodern analogue medium. Chris Wood’s ‘Untitled’ took a recorded soundscape from the farm burial location, which was then subjected to the land’s natural decomposition of the tape reel, and Graham Dunning’s ‘Sound, loss and decay – Music by Metre’ experimented with the analogue process through abstract soundscapes on a looping turntable. The two exhumed book works on display by Topp & Dubio and Barbara Ekström also arguably represent archaic forms of media in contemporary culture; one only partially decayed and one almost entirely.

The erosion of surfaces during the burial process was another theme shared between the artists. Verobika Lukasova’s ‘In Time / Underground Occurrences’ examined the effect the burial had on 120mm transparencies, and Raksha Patel’s ‘Untitled’ consisted of prints taken from a 35mm film shot on the farm location before and after burial. Fred Martin’s ‘Exvagus’ also emphasised the surface erosion of material, but instead of examining the effect on existing works as Lukasova and Patel had done, Martin buried a blank zinc plate and made prints from the patternation resulting from soil erosion.

Samira Shafiei’s buried painting ‘The Unending Series’ transformed flat surface into sculptural installation through the decay process. Originally the largest work in the collection, the canvas was buried at the bottom of the demarcated plot. A projection showed some images of the original work against a brick wall, which effectively juxtaposed the materiality of the wall against the spotlit sculpture. The decomposed grey mass of canvas and paint, littered with broken bits of frame, took on a new life reminiscent of 1960s anti-form sculpture.

The deliberate erosion of information and history is antithesis to the traditional museum conservation process. Both the artists’ and curators’ selection of works for Roadside Museum was unique in that they consciously chose works to undergo a specific but limited degradation and decay process. Using a variety of rare and analogue materials and museological techniques, the combination of contingent object and curatorial framework provided a thoughtful interrogation of decay as a developmental process and excavated remains as finished artworks.


Rubbish Dialogue is a new twitter project facilitated by the Museum of Contemporary Rubbish Research Department.

Rubbish Dialogue examines the relationship between rubbish and language through ‘talking rubbish’ on social media platform Twitter. Anyone can participate by tweeting @rubbishdialogue with rubbish content – original or recycled/appropriated.

Rubbish Dialogue features as part of Hannah Directory 2015 and selected highlights will be submitted to the special Techno Trash issue of Wi: Journal of Mobile Media for publication in 2016.


Museum of Contemporary Rubbish is participating in an Arts & Trash event organised by Flora Hochrein of the University of Leeds.

Postcards of selected items from the Leeds Collection will be available for visitors.

Exhibit #0245

Thursday 4 June 2015, 12-4pm
Hyde Park (Woodhouse Moor), Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS6 2AS

“Waste is one of the most pressing issues today. Particularly plastic waste poses many threats to our environment. Currently, only 12% of waste is recycled and plastic products are still consumed excessively. When walking through Woodhouse Moor after a sunny day, waste issues and careless attitudes become very apparent.

This is why I have developed a research project as part of my Masters thesis, targeting this issue and sparking a dialogue about waste and sustainability. The project aims to raise awareness for local and global waste issues. Using art as a medium of universal communication, the goal is to deliver issues to a diverse range of people, and make sustainability engaging and relatable.”


I finally submitted my Master by Research portfolio at the end of April and it is currently with the examiners pending their grading and comments.

The printers duplicated my order by mistake so ironically two copies of the thesis have been disposed of (recycled) although they ignored my requests to come and document this process.


Notes from my Residual Projects Residency at South Square last December:

Day 1 of the residency involved drawing the previous artists’ leftovers with day 2 making hybrid works on paper from these.

I also made ‘conversational leftovers’. Two gallery visitors and I discussed remains: We talked about excess packaging of consumer items and environmental issues of burial/cremation of human remains. One visitor made her mum’s coffin with family and we all liked the idea of cardboard coffins. I made a cardboard coffin for the pencil sharpenings from my earlier drawings.

Day 3 I made a series of pencil drawings with aid of leftover tape measures from Claire Weetman’s residency and recorded the sound of sharpening pencils in a cardboard sound booth.

Day 4 I put the drawings and sound together into a short video Sharpening a Pencil at South Square (2014)