The Re-imagining Waste Art Project

Janelle Randall-Court

The Blue Mountains Creative Arts Network is partnering with artist and cultural worker, Janelle Randall-Court, a Bundjalung/ Yaegl woman who lives in the Blue Mountains. Janelle and BMCAN would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land of the Darug and Gundungurra people and pay respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Janelle’s commitment to ‘Caring for Country’ has inspired her to continue to help people re-imagine domestic waste. This builds on her previous work with the Aboriginal Cultural Resource Centre (ACRC) resulting in the documentary, No Waste on Country—Leaving Only Footprints and on her Tipp Wear fashion project, featuring fashion items rescued from landfill, cleaned and displayed on local catwalks. These works were featured in the ‘Waste to Art’ exhibition in Katoomba and Parkes NSW, promoting the message: “Recycle, Reuse, Relove”, with the aim to reduce landfill in waste management.

With permission from the photographer

The Re-Imagining Waste Art Project aligns with Janelle’s other major work Treasures, a contemporary dance work based on the iconic Satin Bower Bird. Treasures takes the audience on a journey to discover the charismatic male of the species who historically collects and adorns his bower (his ‘love shack’) with natural treasures such as flowers, berries and an assortment of other strategic items.

However, sadly today these bowers are littered with a wide selection of plastic and other man-made waste which is all too easy for the males to acquire.

The Project

The Reimagining Waste Art Project has received funding from the Wentworth Health Community Wellbeing Grants program for bushfire-affected areas in the Blue Mountains. The project aims to improve community wellbeing through engagement with the arts to change the way we think about the things we throw away, and participate in sensate based creative play, to create art works that we can share with others.

The project will specifically target key groups, such as young people and families, as well as the general community who have been experiencing heightened anxiety resulting from the severe bushfires that ravaged parts of the Blue Mountains area in 2020, followed by ongoing anxiety resulting from the COVID pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

This project demonstrates Aboriginal thought leadership in addressing an important environmental issue, as well as showing ways in which the arts can contribute to community engagement with local Aboriginal people and participate in ‘Caring for Country’ and heighten environmental awareness that challenges our ‘throw-away’ consumer culture.

Waste Land—the Documentary

Through this project Janelle will take the community on a journey to re-imagining our relationship with waste. First, through a film event at Mt Vic Flicks, she will share with us the inspiration she gained from the powerful and award winning documentary, Waste Land by Lucy Walker.

That a beautiful film could be set in the world’s largest garbage dump sounds like an oxymoron, but Lucy Walker’s profoundly moving “Waste Land” follows renowned Brooklyn-based, Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz on a singularly ambitious project. She goes to Jardim Gramacho, a vast landfill established in 1970 north of Rio de Janeiro, photographing its catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, and then collaborating with them in transforming these photos into portraits created with recyclable materials. Vik’s purpose is to inspire his pickers to see themselves in a new way and even to re-imagine their lives.


Waste Art Workshops

Janelle will lead five community art workshops whereby participants will explore multiple ways to engage with this important issue in a creative and fun way, transforming a problem area with associated feelings of guilt and anxiety, into one of creative solutions, thus contributing to building a more resilient community of connectedness to one another, and to our natural world.

As a member of Resilience Blue Mountains, Janelle seeks to aligns with the work of Blue Mountains City Council to engage the community in envisioning our future based on the theme of ‘resilience’ in terms of our relationship with one another in our neighbourhoods, with our natural environment, and with the Darug and Gundungurra people who are the traditional ‘owners’ of the Blue Mountains.

During the workshops, participants will explore:

  • What role does waste play in our lives and community?
  • Waste and how to better ‘care for Country’
  • Creating artworks using recovered or gathered waste materials
  • Discussing the meaning of the artwork created.

The Exhibition—Re-Imagine

Janelle will select the best of the artworks created to feature in an art exhibition that will be exhibited online on the BMCAN website, and COVID regulations permitting, will be featured as a live exhibition at the BMCAN gallery space at The Edge Cinema in Katoomba.

The ‘People’s Choice’ award from the art exhibition will also have the opportunity for their artwork to be featured as a bin sticker for local wheelie-bins—to be offered to local schools and community organisations to raise awareness about waste management.

Waste to Art with BMCAN

BMCAN has a long history of celebrating waste to art through Peter Shoemark’s sculptures that are a regular feature of our BMCAN Gallery at The Edge Cinema complex in Katoomba.

Featured here:

Daisies—metal daisies and leaves

Rose—coffee pot and golf sticks with ceramic rose

March of the Molluscs—recycled wood, metal and marbles