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17 Days

Well, our residency has come to an end. In 17 days, we have collected much rubbish and many friends. We love Newcastle and are sorry to leave, though we are looking forward to returning to our community, our garden and our chickens. To everybody we met, thank you for making us feel so welcome, and to everybody who followed our journey on this blog, thank you so much for your support.

But before we bid you adieu for now, we hope you enjoy this short film about our time here. Until next time, signing off, The Artist as Family.

Thirsty Work

Now that our Lock-Up exhibition has been and gone, today we relaxed somewhat. Meg and Zeph took to the streets on their bikes as sightseers and Patrick worked on the film.

The lady behind the counter of the kiosk at Newcastle Main Beach told us that the local council asked them not to sell any drinks in glass as they are likely to end up smashed and injuring someone. So instead they only sell plastic bottles that get left on the sand or placed into one of the many bins that go straight to landfill sites without being sorted. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Today as we navigated the beaches and streets, we were very impressed at how many water bubblers we came across – a fantastic council initiative to encourage people to rehydrate without having to pay money for a disposable bottle.

The Bins Full

We were in the Newcastle Herald today! Here is the photo that accompanied the article:

After breakfast, we donned latex gloves and began the task of sorting our accumulated waste: recyclable, non-recyclable, and organic matter.

We had set aside the weekend to disassemble our collection, though in 6 hours we had finished; the bins full, the exercise yard swept clean.

It was Zeph’s job to gather and flatten all the cans. So after lunch, he and Patrick biked the 4 kilograms of aluminium to Hunter Recyclers where Zeph received $5 for his efforts (with which he bought a block of dark chocolate he generously shared with us elders).

Meanwhile, Meg was kicking back at the Loft Youth Venue, not far from the Lock-Up, where she gave a blogging workshop to a great group of students.

If you live locally and were planning to come down to see our show over the weekend, we’re sorry, but the show is no longer. But stay tuned to these www’s, as our short film about our residency will be screening here shortly.


With three days left of our residency, our two main tasks are to process the waste we have gleaned in the best way we can, and to finish making the short creative documentary of our time here.

Here is a sneak peak from the film so far:

This afternoon, journalist Greg Ray and photographer Jonathan Carroll, from the Newcastle Herald came to the Lock-Up to interview us and photograph our expanding waste line. In the beginning of our stay, two and a half weeks in Newcastle seemed like a long time. Seeing all the rubbish we have collected through Jonathan’s and Ray’s eyes, we were able to see how much we had collected in a slightly objective way and we were filled with an aching regret that our culture’s consumption leaves us with so much waste that can’t be reused.

The Japanese call this mottainai, a term that Wikipedia defines as:

“…a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilised.” The expression Mottainai! can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted.

Going Backwards

From today’s Age:

State’s rubbish heap becoming a mountain

Recycling has gone backwards in Victoria for the first time this century, with an increase in organic waste being dumped into landfill, and mountains of glass sitting unprocessed at recycling plants.

While households are becoming more recycling conscious, the amount of some types of commercial and construction waste being re-processed has fallen sharply.

Recycling of organic rubbish – forestry waste, garden clippings and food – fell 20 per cent in 2007-08, according to a Victorian Recycling Industries survey. The drop was 14 per cent for glass and 4 per cent for construction and demolition waste.

The drop ends a decade of rapid growth for the recycling industry.

More organic waste in landfill poses a second problem – boosting greenhouse gas emissions. When massed in landfill it emits methane, a greenhouse gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Environment Victoria campaigner Fraser Brindley said recycling had been hit by two events: the financial crisis affecting demand for recycled goods and State Government policies not supplying the incentive to boost recycling.

The rest here.