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The Art of Recycling – 2003


Harold Hill Mosaic


In 1998 Mark Wydler, Karen Wydler and Carrie Reichardt set up Living Space Arts. The collective were awarded the DEFRA (Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) funded contract for this community art project, following a competitive tender process and public vote. Living Space Arts designed, fabricated and installed the project.
The design was inspired by news that Harold Hill had the worst record in the region for recycling. This was taken as the controversial central theme for the artwork, as an attempt to raise awareness and combat the issue. Over 70% of the materials used to make this mural were recycled and re-salvaged.

The 8×2.4m mosaic is a rich and eclectic combination of stylistic influences, from Moroccan inspired borders to New York style graffiti, designed to relate to a diverse audience on multiple levels. The image is dominated by two figures that look out over an industrial landscape. The toxicity of their environment is evident in the smoke and sulphur which fills the air, forcing the young woman to draw on an asthma inhaler.
Beyond the initial stark impression, the Mosaic is an intricate and symbolic composition. An ammonite provides a reference to time and how, in a relatively short period, humans have had such an enormous impact on the planet.Similarly a large fern is a lush, green reminder of the earth’s legacy and our responsibility to maintain it.
Whilst the work depicts a world in crisis and the problems that need to be addressed by every nation, it grounds these issues and their solutions in the local area and community. A map of the area is incorporated, along with slogans written by children from the local school. These additions have clear but simple implication; think globally, act locally.
The call to action together with evidence of a communal desire to change, transforms this mosaic from a disenfranchised depiction of the world as we know it, to a sign of hope. It shows a community’s desire to address universal environmental issues head on, even if these demands places them under public scrutiny and exposes past failings.