Dubai students transform 250kg of waste into stunning art installations

Artworks were displayed at City Walk and The Beach, JBR

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 19 May 2024, 4:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 May 2024, 3:15 PM

Students from Dubai schools have crafted four captivating artworks by repurposing 250 kilograms of waste material. The installations were showcased at City Walk and The Beach, JBR.

The exhibits, which were on display before the massive storm hit the country, involved more than 110 students from the Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills (DIAEH), Dubai International Academy Al Barsha, Collegiate International School, Lycée Français International de l'AFLEC, Raffles International School, and Raffles World Academy.


Led by Dubai-based sustainability artist Christine Iris Wilson, the students participated in 32 workshops held over five weeks.

Bridging the Gap Sculpture’
Bridging the Gap Sculpture’

Workshops on sustainability

The sessions covered a diverse range of topics, including the circular economy, water pollution, plastic recycling, and fast fashion.


“I created a lesson plan which incorporated lifelong skills that included meditation, visualisation to connect with ‘the why’ of choosing sustainable,” said Wilson.

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Eco craft workshops helped students learn hands-on techniques such as button and rivet setting to repair things and fusing single-use plastic to create sewable fabric.

Explaining the process, Wilson said: “To create the Ocean Soundwave Bench, for example, required students to close their eyes and capture the sound of ocean waves with their paint brush while synchronising breaths with the sound.”

The artist taught students to play with ocean waves and soundwave forms to create the bench form. “By choosing to create this functional piece from recycled plastic and Palm Tree Frond materials we connected the dots between pollution, land, and sea. The Beach, JBR offers the perfect location as it is where city meets the sea.”

Slow Fashion Buzz Wire
Slow Fashion Buzz Wire

Using locally sourced materials

The installation, ‘Bridging the Gap Sculpture’, which was displayed at City Walk, symbolises the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

Using locally sourced materials like desert board, steel, and repurposed textiles such as textile fashion waste and 'datecrete,' a date seed-based cement-like material, the students used the Irish rope bridge as inspiration for the vibrant structure .

Similarly, another artwork, ‘Slow Fashion Buzz Wire’, incorporated a 3-D perspective art. The installation reveals the word “fashion” when viewed from a specific angle, inviting people to engage and navigate the metal frame maze, highlighting the principles of slow fashion.

A Grade 5 student at Lycée Français International de l’AFLEC, Layal Chahin, said, “Participating in the workshops and building these installations really showed me how much can be done through recycling and upcycling, making something old and ugly look really nice. The most enjoyable part of the project for me was making the braids that formed the rail of the bridge. I liked being able to recognise the bits of fabric that I had braided.”

Sustainability artist Christine Iris Wilson
Sustainability artist Christine Iris Wilson

Challenges

Shedding light on the difficulties, 10-year-old Chahin said, “A challenging part of the project was putting the moulds together as that required a lot of strength. Separating different types of plastic was also quite tedious because we had to look at the bottle caps very closely in order to check the type of plastic that the cap was made of.”

Showcased at The Beach JBR, the installation, ‘Ocean Soundwave Bench’ drew inspiration from the rhythmic waves of the ocean. The innovative seating solution was fashioned from recycled plastic sheets, palm tree fronds, and materials sourced from Polygood.

Similarly, ‘Starry Badriyeh Moon Sculpture’ has sustainably illuminated saltwater powered LED lights. It is constructed from desert board, aluminium, glass, and repurposed plastic CD cases.

Rebecca McDiarmid, Primary School Art teacher, Dubai International Academy Al Barsha, said, “The project has fostered a sense of agency and responsibility among students. By actively engaging in sustainable art practices, they’ve realised their capacity to effect positive change, both within the art community and the wider world.”

Starry Badriyeh Moon Sculpture
Starry Badriyeh Moon Sculpture

Students emphasised that the exercise has increased their understanding of recycling and how art can be created through upcycling, reusing, and reinventing with a touch of creativity.

“I now know that if you iron down plastic bags then you can make a sustainable art piece with it. I also know that aluminium foil can work as an electricity generator. I have learnt that you can press down plastic into little square pieces and then make a sculpture out of them,” said Aaradhya Anand, Grade 5 student at Dubai International Academy Al Barsha.

Ocean Soundwave Bench
Ocean Soundwave Bench

Fostering positive change in recycling practices

Industry stakeholders emphasised their long-term goal of fostering a positive change in the community's recycling practices and overall environmental awareness.

Lizelle Fitoussi, Director-Marketing, Merex Investment, said, “This initiative aligns with our commitment to environmental consciousness and community engagement. We believe that by supporting these educational initiatives, we are investing in the future leaders of sustainability and helping to foster a community that values and understands the importance of ecological balance.”

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