Blog:
Liam Hopkins

Recycling plastic bottles to create an angelic installation

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When I think about the scale of the project and the timescale to deliver it, I do wonder if it’s achievable. But then if you don’t push yourself, do you ever reach your creative potential?

This piece of art is formed from thousands of plastic bottles and the thought of collecting and recycling them locally in four weeks is overwhelming. But then I’ve had massive help from the team at Moodswings charity, students from Manchester College and kids and teachers from local schools who’ve undertaken litter picks and raided the recycling bins to get this world-class installation off the ground.

Once gathered these plastic bottles are being coloured and fashioned into a 14.5m x 14m metre sculpture I’ve called Angel, which will grace Angel Meadow park from November until the end of the year.

Colouring the individual bottles has been great fun. Local manufacturer HMG Paints, which has been based down in the road in Collyhurst for over 80 years, has shared all its cast-offs from colour palettes that have gone out of fashion or end of lines that haven’t been re-ordered by the retail giants, allowing us to mix our own range of amazing colours. The quality of the paints means they adhere to the bottles after just one application and really reflect the light, making Angel have real stand-out when she takes her place in the city’s only park.

What’s been really helpful is having the gang from New Mount Street-based charity Moodswings getting to work on picking litter from Angel Meadow park itself each week. Through a series of organised events, the charity, which helps people recover from mood problems together with the severe emotional distress they can cause, managed to collect hundreds of bottles, which they then cleaned and sorted ready for painting and to become an integral part of the sculpture.

 This generation put recycling at the forefront of their thinking and don’t want single use plastic to be an option

Involving children from the local primary schools has also been phenomenal. I’ve been in doing workshops every week since last month and just love the enthusiasm and the recycling mindset that today’s little kids really have. By creating a piece of lasting artwork from everyday used items, they are observing at first hand the critical role recycling plays in our environment and we’ve all had lots of fun in the process.

The students at Manchester College have been incredibly impressive. These teenagers have really invested in Angel and their creative input and assistance in creating this immense piece of work has been amazing. This generation put recycling at the forefront of their thinking and don’t want single use plastic to be an option. I really like their viewpoint and how they turn it into action.

I find strength and beauty in the lightest and most ubiquitous of materials, and plastic bottles are exactly the sort of products that the team and I want to work with in this multi-dimensional design. It is a true community effort bringing together the base materials through Manchester College, local schools, the paint manufacturer and the charity to combine resources to create a thing of beauty.

Angel will take three weeks to create through a combination of traditional handcraft techniques combined with computer-based modelling and pattern cuttings. It’s being funded by developer Far East Consortium, which is offering apartments and townhouses at MeadowSide overlooking Angel Meadow, the largest green space in central Manchester. She will be ready by 29 November and I’d love to hear what people have to say about this community effort.

Interact: Responses to Blog: Liam Hopkins

  • Notmymeadowside
    25 Nov 2019 19:37
    "It’s being funded by developer Far East Consortium, which is offering apartments and townhouses at MeadowSide overlooking Angel Meadow, the largest green space in central Manchester. " How ironic this is in the big issue.

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