Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts


School of the Arts, English and Media


This practice-lead research project examines the materiality, collection and conversion of rubbish: things,objects and stuff that we define as discards from contemporary culture. By focusing on trash as artifact and trash as treasure, this project suggests that we re-evaluate the commodity and draw attention to an alternative consumerism which values the packaging as much as what it used to contain. Using tropes of decorative design to imbue objects with a new life and re-commodify them in consumer terms, the project works with techniques of copying and simulation to re-position rubbish within a contemporary framework of material cultures.

My exegesis revisits two decades of art practice, focusing on elements that have explored ecological and cultural themes that often appear to be contradictory. In order to look at the expanse of decorative arts that are available, I bring together a new perspective that connects my fascination with historically significant works of Asian art, and contemporary consumer waste culture. I unpack my past works adjacent to the present, forming an analysis of the aspects that inform and confront me along the way.

The exegesis accompanies a major new exhibition. I am a 3-D printer involves the intertwining and co-mingling of cast-off items to create new objects and environments, demonstrating that beautiful visions can emerge from the detritus of modern life and illuminating the gap between the original and the copy. The exhibition includes copies of seventy pieces from the Wollongong Art Gallery’s Asian collection that are presented alongside other works inspired by Silk Road exchanges.

The research project as a whole suggest that within consumer culture the original can be reinterpreted by introducing slippages. The result is a series of flaws, mistakes and errors in objects that are expressive of the ruptures and contradictions of contemporary material culture. By re-making valuable commodities out of found trash there is a correlation formed between user and consumer; and, in merging contemporary understandings of trash with priceless antique objects an alternate materiality is found.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.