22.2 Upcycled mosaic murals: ‘Rags to Riches’ conference activity

After registration and an introduction to the Glasgow conference by Ms Dilys Young, (University Librarian at Strathclyde) we had two hours to get involved with developing our very own ARCLIB bottle top mosaic under the guidance two Govanhill community volunteers who were working on the Rags to Riches project. The aim was to create something beautiful out of plastic waste whilst having a bit of fun with hammers and drills. As an icebreaker it was both enjoyable and very different!

Rags to Riches activityin Barony Hall

To begin with there was an introductory slideshow which gave us some context for the project and their goals to harness community action to help with regeneration efforts. It was born from the need for ‘community’ in a deprived part of Glasgow and has resulted in the largest occupation of a public building in British history (Govanhill Baths). They have set up a studio in the restroom of the sauna, where they make use of waste materials from the area and also waste textiles from a community charity shop. They even held an art installation in the empty swimming pool!

Barony Hall 'Rags to Riches' activity

The stained glass windows in the room at Barony Hall also provided some colourful if subliminal inspiration as we developed our mosaic art!

The bottle top mosaic project is just one of many activities. It involved local primary school children, who learn about colour theory and make mosaics. Other projects included making bird boxes from waste wood, stitching draft excluders from waste textiles, turning ruined t-shirts into yarn, fixing and repairing garments or even making new clothes. I particularly liked their use of old doors to build flower boxes for the local area, part of a 2015 ‘Stalled spaces’ funded project. The doors were found locally after being left on the pavement by companies installing new doors who did not want to bear the cost of collecting the old doors.

Volunteers and tutors for the Govanhill Baths Community Trust are mostly locals and their clever mix of creativity and waste reduction has helped to inspire and nurture more of a local community.

Review by David Stacey



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