Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Where now for a litter obsessed creative ?

abstract from someone else's bin

I am back from down under unexpectedly early.

Enjoying the pre-spring sunshine and doing a bit of spring cleaning and pruning in the garden.
All very therapeutic, but a big question looms.

What next, artistically?

I find myself without a project, uncertain of what or why I am doing in my creative life.

So much so, that I have applied for a mentoring session with ABC projects atelier  in the hope of finding some answers and a kick up the back side.

Asked by ABC projects to write why I wanted to do this, I found that the very act of writing made me more aware of some of the reasons behind my dilemma.

I wrote..... that I am no longer satisfied with taking photographs as an endpoint. That I also enjoy making books and writing. Which leaves me wondering what to call myself. Abstract landscape photographer no longer fully describes my intentions. Angry eco warrior fits the bill a bit better right now.

I wrote that I am obsessed with litter and the state of the environment in general.

at my local bus stop - a new source of litter - nitrous oxide chargers

Litter is my problem..... other people around me don't seem to find it troubling.
My frustration is driving OH ( my other half) a bit crazy.

Being angry is unhelpful to my wellbeing, and unconstructive.

So what to do?

I searched for some quotes that might help;

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

Maya Angelou

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. Buddha
Read more at:
You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. Buddha
Read more at:
Time to stop complaining.

Change my attitude.

Accept that people often make art about what is most important to them. Go with it.......

But what about my photography, and book making?

How does this fit with my current obsession?

bottle, Moeraki beach

I don't want to keep making photographs of litter. And yet, I don't have anything else that currently drives me.

So I am going to allow litter to take me down new paths, do some research, and see where that leads.

I started with a search of images of litter, garbage and trash on the web that are available for public use.

The titles are often amusing or bizarre; here is one showing evidence that littering rules are sometimes obeyed.....

Evidence That Littering Rules Are Sometimes Obeyed 05/1973, Original Caption: On Coeur D'alene Lake

 I had not thought of other uses of the word, such as a litter of puppies, a litter to carry someone on, or leaf litter in a forest.

There are hundreds of images of hand litters to choose from.

And quite a few litters of puppies, but only one story about a woman, Mary Tofts, who tricked doctors into thinking that she had given birth to a litter of rabbits.

I think she might have come off the set of the recent film, The Favourite.

Mary Tofts, who duped several eminent doctors into believing she had given birth to a litter of rabbits, twelve scenes.
You can see the story in more detail at the Wellcome Collection

And then I came across this lady, luxuriating in bed for an electric blanket advertisement in 1948. We don't get to see the carpet sweeper that keeps dirt and litter in her home at bay, but you can read all about it under the image.

Text Appearing After Image:

Sleep snug and warm under the new light-as-a-jeather Simmons Electronic Blanket (shown above), Dept. J, every blessed part of you feelat peace at last! What a moment! What a moment!And to think that all this comfort is yours nightafter night—not for just a few years—but for at leastTEN years! Thats Beautyrests guarantee! I, Milwaukee 9, only $4£.50 plus excise tax, such a luscious, 

Text Appearing Before Image:

The only carpet sweeper with MOV-O-MATIC Combs thatmove in and out of the brush to keep it clean. Only a cleanbrush can sweep clean! Whisks up dirt and litter in lesstime with less effort! No need to hand-clean brush. No tiring handle pressure. Adjust-O-Matic Brush sweeps with equalease on thick or thin rugs. Wheels never need Ask your dealerKmonSaJon. E. R? Wagner Mfg. Co., toe-wriggling stretch!A warm feeling of repose comes over you. Tensionleaves you. The strain of the day vanishes. Your nerves, W*s. WRGI1ER KOMB-KLEANEPSWEEPER Gette*. Sautoi^PICK-UP © 1948 LADIES HOME JOURNAL April, WAT WONPEZFUL, WOWE&FUL MOMENT/ 1. Its bedtime. Youve had a busy day. You slipbetween the sheets on your new Beautyrest andstretch . . . oli, your muscles

But I digress.

Some litter images are more to the pointof my intended search....

rats love litter

camel litter ( dung) being disposed of by burning

bread mould

 I am heading down a rabbit hole, with no idea where it will lead......

A sad doll story perhaps..

Inside a yellow bin

Roadside garbage....

roadside garbage..... my local litter problem pales in comparison

A fruit fly; up close and personal. Lover of rotting fruit and vegetables.

Inside a blue bin

A dirt road on a glass photographic plate

Some health hints for an air raid shelter

Eutrophication........algal bloom in a lake due to excessive pollution with nutrients

And finally, a couple of vintage photographs, described as being found in a 'trash-picked' book.

A motley collection of images that led me to some amazing resources and digital libraries.

I will save those for next time.

And leave you with an image of Mars from Wikimedia Commons

Which got me thinking that there is no litter in space.....

Until I found this.

Space junk described by NASA

With regards the litter that lines every road that I walk or drive along, I cannot pick it all up, but I do pick up what I can carry, and so far this week I have filled quite a few bags from my local streets.

The M20 is a different kettle of fish.....

And space trash is right out of my reach.

For now.


  1. Quite a collection.
    I find myself thinking about litter, even if not as obsessed as you. What I find most intriguing is how innovative and important the objects are which become litter. There is a point they reach, the buffers, when from extremely useful the object becomes beyond useless. From life-enhancing to life-detraction, even life-threatening.
    In a conversation with my husband this morning about litter - sparked by this post - he said that what struck him was how litter tells so much about the life of the user, how litter describes our lives: our history through our junk.
    Good luck with finding a project. I'm curious to see if your consulting a mentor helps with that.

    1. Hi Olga

      I really value your comments, particularly regarding the idea of an object reaching a buffer between useful and useless.

      Thank you for taking the time to ponder and reply!