Artists and Rubbish

Edifice Complex

What is it that about skips that attracts us artists?  Ever since my first portfolio preparation course, I have wandered the streets of the city, searching out the junk-filled containers and rummaging through their dusty entrails looking for… I don’t know what – nice bits of wood, lengths of plastic piping, plastic soldiers, old suitcases, older record players, cardboard cut-outs… I found an angle-poise lamp once (it didn’t work), and a hand saw. But mostly it’s just rubbish.

Amazing what one can do with rubbish though. Recently I went to see an exhibition in Visual, in Carlow by Tadhg Mc Sweeney.  It was all sculptural works made from “found, recycled, discarded and unfunctional materials”. But it was amazing, there was so much detail, so much to see.  The photo above shows just one small section of the show.

And I’m not averse to using bits and pieces in the work myself. I think that it started during the Boom years. There was so much waste. It seemed such a shame to be throwing out all that good stuff but also, I find sawn-off edges of wood to be interesting, and the way cardboard tears, and the way that old bits of material hold a history within…

more about Tadhg’s exhibition at:



  1. Hi Eoin,
    I enjoyed your post. work with found objects can ask lots of questions, like ” is it art?” and the preciousness that is often associated with “Fine Art” objects


    • Thanks for your comment John. That’s an awful thorny subject: is it art? or what is art? For myself, I just like the grain in old bits of wood, wood that’s been weathered over time, stuff like that. I remember seeing an exhibition once of ‘constructions’ by Tony O’Malley. They were mostly made from old pieces of driftwood that he had picked up on the beach in Cornwall. They had this primitive quality that would’ve been hard to recreate in paint. Why is it, I wonder, that old decaying pieces of material seem so much more interesting than new stuff?


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