Sustainable shopping centre installations for Summer

More than 90% of the materials used to make Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre’s astounding summer decorations came from creative reuse centre, Reverse Garbage.

Bottle tops, plastic cutlery, bra cups, polystyrene, fabric samples and hessian coffee sacks that were discarded by their first owner and would go straight to landfill if it weren’t for Reverse Garbage, now take pride of place throughout Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre.

When the Metro approached Reverse Garbage to make their 2020 Christmas decorations, Creative Director Kirsten Junor saw it as an opportunity to collaborate with the students studying prop-making up the road at the Design Centre Enmore TAFE NSW.

With a broader brief that encourages longer use of the sculptures, students were invited to pitch their ideas on what Summer in Marrickville means to them using reuse resources. We had incredible submissions and were impressed by the amount of thought and creativity they produced. Seven students were selected to bring their concept to life.   

“This collaboration is a fantastic example of how with a little bit of creativity, reuse resources can be given new life – and hold their own against brand new installations. We hope other shopping centres and corporates will be inspired to follow suit,” said Kirsten Junor, Creative Director, Reverse Garbage.

This three-way local collaboration has delivered amazing results for all involved. The Metro has spectacular Inner West-inspired installations that complement their existing sustainability measures (see their recycling station) and hopefully inspire other shopping centres and commercial operations to consider reuse resources first.

The TAFE students benefit greatly from the industry experience, and Reverse Garbage has succeeded in diverting more reuse resources from landfill and inspiring people to make reuse their first choice – their company vision.

 “It is really progressive for a shopping centre who survives on consumerism to actively seek a sustainable option for their decorations. As a reuse centre we see the waste created every day by visual merchandising, so it is really encouraging to see this movement. We hope it catches on!”, said Kirsten

Reverse Garbage is a not-for-profit creative reuse centre based in Marrickville, in Sydney’s inner west. Each year we redirect around 250 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste from landfill to a new life with educators, artists, upcyclers, DIY enthusiasts, tinkerers, set builders, window dressers, community organisations, festivals, charities, and more.

Here are the 7 artworks you will find throughout our Centre: 

1. Watermelon by Sudevi Nath and Glenn Culhane  

 “When I think of Summer, the first thing that comes to mind is watermelon. We wanted to create nostalgia around warm summer days and cooling down with a refreshing slice.” 

Materials used: plywood, paint and bottle caps

2. Summer Scourge by Angus Thomasson and Amber Fraser 
“One of the best things about Summer in the Inner West is heading down to the beach or pool and enjoying hot chips. One of the worst things about Summer in the Inner West is the seagulls also enjoying your hot chips.” 

Materials used: recycled polystyrene, eva foam, soft foam and plastic cutlery

3. Summer Fruits by Richard Domingo 

“Summer fruits is inspired by family and the joy of sharing the flavours of Summer in the Inner West with each other. We are so fortunate to access incredible produce so why not hero them?” 

Materials used: recycled polystyrene, paint and steel rod

4. Ibis by Emilia Lilischkis, Sarah Donnelly & Seymour Van Houten 
“This resident bird is commonly known to join your picnics. Although we love to hate this so called bin chicken, it’s constantly adapting to our changing environments. I hope this silly bird becomes a symbol of a brighter, cheekier Summer.” 

Materials used: steel frame, recycled fabric and plastics

5. Fans! Fans! Fans! by Anna Alvisi
“Fans are a simple, practical, and universal cooling method. We wanted to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity that’s unique to Marrickville and what better way than to create many shapes and sizes of fans from all over the world.” 

Materials used: recycled fabrics and recycled card.

6. Magpie by Hayley Sheehan & Seymour Van Houten  

“I’ve always been an admirer of magpies, their resourceful nature and irreverent fearlessness. I wanted to play with this, magpies can often be found placing themselves in our world, even replicating sounds we make. These birds are seen everywhere, and often not appreciated. Magpies are one of the greatest recycle/upcyclers and I believe we could all learn a lot from them.”

Materials used: steel frame and bra cups

7. Melted Moments by Melissa Gajardo-Green, Sebastian Vrocharis-Low & Ivy Ngo

“What says Summer more than ice cream? The first things to pop into your head is ice-cream, the beach and swimming. When we were given this brief ’ Sebastian and I (Melissa) were excited to attempt a giant ice cream cone, not just because it’s a wonderful snack or how the icy cold ice cream is a wonderful juxtaposition to a scorching day, but also for nostalgia. Everyone has fond memories of cooling off with ice cream because it brings friends and family together.”

Materials used: steel frame, recycled polystyrene, hessian, bottle caps and paint

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