International festival seeks art that can be put to work

26 May 2002

Art that works: Second year sculpture students at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Stuart Bird (left) and Mikhael Subotsky, produced a new-look trolley for strollers who collect and sell cardboard and metal for recycling.

A MAJOR art school in France is running an International Biennial Design Festival of St Etienne with the theme Objects for Sustainable Future and entrants are being sought from art schools and universities around the world.

With this in mind Professor Gavin Younge from the Michaelis School of Fine Art set his second-year sculpture students to work developing objects and sculptures with more than decorative and aesthetic purposes in mind.

The sculpture students were allowed to work in teams (with cross-departmental and cross faculty participation encouraged) and were asked to investigate the environmental impact of every aspect of their proposed creations.

Overall they came up with a pedal-powered hairdryer, a water barrow made from recycled parts that also doubles up as a sink, wash basin, dish dryer and soap dish, and a fire extinguisher for use in shacks, using recycled Coke cans containing sand.

Another novel production was a trolley for "strollers", people who collect and sell used cardboard and metal for recycling.

"This team researched their product extensively and the idea is that companies can buy or rent advertising space on the sides of these 'movable homes'," said Professor Gavin Younge. The trolley has space for all the cardboard and metal to be sold to recycling depots as well as a pullout drawer and a rainproof box to store belongings.

The designers, Stuart Bird and Mikhael Subotsky, followed the strollers around to see what they collected and what they did.

"We tend to ignore these people but they perform a valuable service, cleaning up the City in their own way," Bird said. "We also got some valuable information from 'Mr Bob' who runs a local recycling depot."

The duo is still working on perfecting the design.

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