Category Archives: Recycled Art

Cairns Children’s Festival – Waste Not World

For the first Cairns Children’s at the Tanks children from Edge Hill State School were invited to make life sized silhouettes of themselves to populate a cardboard maze world. The child was the creative director and the adult was the technical coordinator, who does the cutting and enabling the imagination. The child then decorated the cardboard silhouette with old clothing and oil pastels. The negative cardboard offcuts were used to create a growing multidimensional Waste Not World in the Tinker Tank.

Sustainablity Symposium at James Cook University

JCU declares war on waste

Video tape dresses and moulded plastic costumes will be paraded by the ARC Ensemble at James Cook University on April 11.

The parade and performance by the ARC Ensemble will be a feature of JCU’s Sustainability Symposium and Fair, Challenging Consumerism: The War on Waste, at the Cairns campus.

Artist and student Ruby Boussard said the costumes which were made from 100 per cent recycled and reclaimed materials including packaging found in rubbish bins, were an ideal way to show how these materials could have another life.

After marching through the courtyard and around Founders Green in their recycled costumes, the ARC Ensemble will be on stage at JCU’s Cairns Institute on April 11 for their performance of Sprucing Shakespeare.

Sheridan Lawton of ARC Disability Services said Tropical Arts has been bringing ARC members into ‘Shakespeare at the Tanks’ for the past four years.

For the 2013 production this was further supported by a JCU Action for Sustainability Fund, allowing Ms Boussard to conduct 100 per cent recycled costuming workshops with the ARC Ensemble.

“This ensured all the participants were comfortable in their costumes, participated in their making and had the opportunity to consider the advantages of using second hand materials and clothes,” Ms Boussard said.

“The Parade and Performance at the upcoming Sustainability Symposium is the final celebration of this process.”
In addition to the program of speakers, the free event incorporates workshops including recycled craft, a clothes swap, food, live music and stalls featuring the Kuranda Seed Savers and the Saltwater Creek Basketry Group. To register go to

The ARC Ensemble will also be participating in this year’s Tropical Arts production of “Much Ado About Dragons” at the Tanks Arts Centre in October.


Chinese New Year – Horse

20,000 pack Grafton Street in Cairns CBD to welcome Chinese New Year of the Horse in 2014

RECORD crowd numbers crammed into Cairns CBD to welcome in the Chinese New Year of the Horse on Saturday.

About 20,000 people hit Grafton and Shields Sts to watch the parade and take part in the traditional Chinese celebrations, including the awakening of the dragon ceremony used to ring in the new year.

Text and some photos from Cairns Post.

The first costume try on at the Tanks

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The very first try-on with real actors of costumes.  The video star range were clearly a sucess, but my ideas about breast-plates less so.  The actors noticed the branding on the plastic, which I had not been looking at.  I had only been thinking about the colours red, white and blue.

Pecha Kucha 2013

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6 minutes and 40 seconds.      1024 x 768 pixel jpegs

Hello everybody , My Name is Ruby  

I’m going to talk about plastic in the natural environment and why I make recycled art. After the first couple of introductory slides you will see images of my work both as an artist and as a children’s workshop facilitator.

Ahhh plastic, plastic, plastic … everywhere… as far as the eye can see

The extent of the environmental impact of plastic pollution in the ocean is a world wide catastrophe. 

Since the 1950’s  we have been experiencing a Great Acceleration – Ecosystems changing rapidly and extensively.

Manufacturing plastic is dirty.  There are 3 major processes in plastics manufacturing.  At every stage one of the greatest wastes is heat, as well as unnaturally concentrated chemicals.  Plastic is not a natural substance, there is no ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’, it decomposes to a concentrated chemical soup that poisons.

Animals are dying.

People feel apathetic, negative, hopeless.

I am deeply concerned and to express this I am making a collection of wearable art made from recycled and found plastic. 

I am a recycling artist.

I rescue things from landfill :  Plastic – Textiles – Paper – any thing

By making wearable art I hope to draw attention to the pollution of the seas by exhibiting pollution on the body. 

On the other hand, plastic is fantastic!

The bright shiny objects produced are unlike anything else before in history.  Plastic has revolutionized life.

High class designers like Coco Chanel popularised plastic jewellery and helped to eliminate class distinctions with the uniformity of mass production. 

Plastic cloth and accessories have changed the way we dress and consume fashion.

Plastic is Fantastic! Imagine modern life without the bikini!

Lycra is a fabulous plastic cloth it has special plastic properties of strength, stretch and absorbability allowing more flesh to be revealed, while carefully maintaining some modesty. 

Fantastic plastic! The fluoro colours of the 1980’s would never have been possible without plastic!

Hair combs, banana clips, scrunches, false nails, oversized sunglasses – we can thank plastic.

The economics of mass production means that it is more profitable to manufacture 10,000 plastic items than 10, encouraging people to treat plastic as disposable.  This is were it has all gone wrong …

Another important positive use of plastic is food security, although I think it important to consider the irony of plastic packaging used as a symbol of freshness and saleability inside the shop. BUT when the plastic wrap has been removed an object loses its value.  In consumerism only ‘packaged’ has value.  The same plastic as discarded waste in rivers and on beaches triggers reactions of disgust and despair.

So Why am I making Wearable Art??

People have always played body decoration games, sending signals of social class or availability; individuality or conformity.  Sometimes these games are disfiguring, sometimes they are subtle. 

Feminists of the 1970’s who used their own bodies in their art created some of the most radical and provocative works we remember. In response to mass media and social and cultural stereotypes feminist artists have attempted to reclaim the image of the female body. 

By using the body as a canvas I aim to communicate and explore socially confronting issues.

There is a long standing tradition of subversion through clothing.  Punk, grunge and deconstructionist cultures have all created clothes responding to the hopelessness and disenchantment of anarchistic urban youth. Fraying hems, ripped knees, seams on the outside, paint, rust and bleach as fashion items were shocking, especially to the layperson. 

Sending cut-up, abused clothes down a catwalk is a revelation society is still recovering from.

Modern advertising encourages consumerism by focusing on shopping details that proclaim our individuality.  Fashion gives people a way to negotiate the constant dichotomy between the quest for self and the need to belong.

A handmade garment is a proud symbol of rejection of mass-produced clothing.  Wearers can rejoice in knowing the garment was made by an individual rather than an industry. 

It is the disposable way we treat plastic that is problematic.  I firmly believe that the manufacturers of plastic should be responsible for the full life cycle.  If the total costs (economic, social and environmental) were considered plastic would be worth its weight in gold! 

By sourcing my material from rubbish bins I am rejecting the wealth of material available in retail stores, I am limiting myself to the discarded.

Please REFUSE plastic where you can …

If you do feel the need to buy something to express your individuality … buy a song! buy a picture! Buy a beautiful piece of hand made wearable art !!!

Finally, I must thank Council, who have recently awarded me a sustainability grant.

Thanks to Glen O’Malley who took some of the fashion photos.

Thanks to Barbara Head at LuLu’s modelling agency for including my work in her fashion parades.

Thank you everyone.

Hope to see you at Carnivale on the 17th May for the Bag Bride and at Ba8 on the 31st May to support the Turtle sanctuary on Fitzroy Island.

Chinese New Year 2013 Snake

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We celebrated the year of the snake on Grafton Street.  I had been collecting the hose pipes from the bins out the back of  Good Guys for months.  It was a hot day, people sheltering in the shade, making things.  The tables were full!  We listened to the singing on the stage and waited until the fire works went off in time to the singing.