Artist who turns his rubbish into sculptures comes to Norfolk for first UK solo show
PUBLISHED: 16:43 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:23 09 March 2018
Sculptures by internationally renowned Dutch artist Jan Eric Visser are going on display in King's Lynn, including works made from waste collected along banks of the River Great Ouse.
Dutch artist Jan Eric Visser, who has built an international reputation for transforming his everyday garbage into works of art, is holding its first UK solo show in Norfolk, including works made from waste collected along banks of the River Great Ouse in King’s Lynn.
Based in Rotterdam, the artist is deeply concerned about depletion of the earth’s resources and sees the value in the waste from his household.
Since he first created art from discarded newspaper and wax in 1987, his work has reflected on the value and potential beauty in waste.
Once it has served its original purpose, all the paper and card, plastic packaging and local newsprint which comes in through his front door is transformed in his studio into sculptural forms.
While waste is finally being recognised as a hugely topical and important political subject, particularly plastic waste, by no means all of it is effectively recycled or repurposed.
Speaking of the common practice for waste to be incinerated, the artist said: “To me it feels like we are burning our future as I look upon waste as our collective capital of the future. Fortunately, my waste is safe in the interior of my creations...waiting for future generations to excavate the valuable resources”.
In Jan Eric’s world, his waste becomes part of another form of existence for artistic purpose.
Visser is well known in the Netherlands and also exhibits internationally, but TrashArt, which is at environmental art gallery Groundwork in King’s Lynn until June, is the artist’s first solo show in the UK.
Previously in the UK he conductedan innovative project in Scarborough from 2008, when he created a series of stunning sculptures made from a new landfill plastic material called Aquadyne.
One sculpture from this material is included in TrashArt, combined with a base made from a beautiful new waste concrete. Aquadyne is made from 100% post-consumer waste plastic and the sculpture is itself adapted from a shape left by a previous process in the factory.
The material has remarkable properties, having macro and micropores which enable rooting of plants, and yet it was used in large scale drainage projects in the Olympic Park.
While the underlying scale of any work can be shaped by the garbage it starts from, Visser says he is never literally guided by it, but his forms emerge gradually.
Using pulped paper and card fixed and finished with wax recovered from Catholic church candles, he makes art instinctively without ever anticipating the end result.
His sculptures often take the form of enigmatic figures, hovering mysteriously somewhere between humanoid and abstract.
The work is always untitled — he does not want to fix any specific identity or association. Its material presence, its quality of surface and colour, scale and shape, is inextricably related to the ethics of its production.
For his Norfolk exhibition he has created a new body of work, 10 major pieces of freestanding sculpture and wall-reliefs and 11 smaller wall-works made from waste collected along the River Great Ouse.
To accompany the exhibition, the Groundwork foundation has also published a book of his work entitled Veritas, the Latin word for “truth”, the artist having noticed that this same word was used for branding by the boats in Venice carrying the garbage out of the city.
Visser describes waste as “the new gold”, increasingly valued, commercially traded, sought after and fought over.”
• TrashArt: Jan Eric Visser is at Groundwork Gallery, Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn, from March 10-June 2, Tues-Sat 11am-4pm, admission free, 01553 340714, groundworkgallery.com