Trash to treasure
Artist Val Hunt's elaborate necklaces and headdresses are made out of beer and soft drink cans, but are fit for a queen.
HANDBAGS MADE out of beer cans, brooches from metal tops the materials used are ordinary, the trash of a consumerist culture. But through her creativity, Val Hunt manages to fashion stunning ornaments and statements out of them. This is not just thumbs-up for environmental awareness but for aesthetics and art. Glinting blue and silver, purple and gold, the elaborate necklaces and headdresses she makes out of beer and soft drink cans could well adorn an Egyptian queen.
Val Hunt was at the Forum Art Gallery on Tuesday to show school children the magic of transforming unwanted materials into cherished artefacts.
Following "Reclaimed", the exhibition on recycled materials held by the British Council at various cities, the Council and Forum Art Gallery have organised workshops for students from August12-14. These are conducted by this artist from the United Kingdom, whose work was displayed at the exhibition. Children from various schools in Chennai listened to her keen-eyed and soon the next Mother's Day gift was under way!
Val Hunt belongs to the group of designers in Britain today whose works are fast becoming an established genre. In the mid-1990s, they were hailed as the "New Alchemists" and their work has received appreciation from the press and public both in the country and abroad. Their imagination bridges a range of craft and an array of materials.
After winding up the workshop, Val Hunt, in dazzling choker and earrings of (cola can) scarlet and silver, pulls up a chair for a tete-tete. "I love being a recycle artist. Because I work with unconventional material in an unconventional way, the end result can be very exciting. Every time it is like embarking on an adventure," she says enthusiastically.
Though Val had trained in traditional jewellery making at the Coventry University, the enduring romance with recycled material began when she looked with fresh eyes at the can in her hand after a drink. "I fell in love with the material for it was so pliable. When I heated it up, it became soft and the colours grew muted; it could be pleated like textiles." And availability (no surprise!) is never a problem: "My friends bring me so much of it, I get a lot of rubbish outside my door," she laughs.
Her unusual jewellery is in demand and it is very durable, "it doesn't mind getting wet!" Though the thought of helping save the planet does bring its own satisfaction, this is art and "people have to like it; I try to make it as perfect and user-friendly as possible."
Having been a teacher, Val enjoys interacting with the young. The artist conducts workshops frequently for school students as well as for the physically challenged. Chennai is her first stop on her first visit to India. She loves the colours and patterns of Indian textiles and jewellery and plans to bring out a new collection inspired by them.
And of course, Val always wears the jewellery she has designed. "Never those made by anyone else. I love mine." And why not? She looks really gorgeous in them!
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