21 November 2023

Trash to treasure: Murrumbidgee Council wins statewide award for rubbish-to-art exhibitions

| Oliver Jacques
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woman with her artwork and award

Heather Goudie with her community award for her Waste to Art creation Nestling’s Feedtime. Photo: Supplied.

A Murrumbidgee Council initiative that encouraged residents to convert rubbish into art has won a major statewide award.

Over winter, Southern Riverina residents were invited to convert recycling items and waste into their own artistic creations, which were judged by a panel of experts in two categories: preschool/primary school and high school/community. The best designs were displayed at exhibitions in Darlington Point, Coleambally and Jerildere in July and August.

Keep Australia Beautiful NSW (KAB NSW), a not-for-profit group that recognises outstanding environmental achievements, handed the council its converted Communication & Engagement 2023 Tidy Towns Award for running the program.

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Mayor Ruth McRae said the council was pleased with the initiative’s success and the positive impact it had on promoting sustainable waste practices and challenging attitudes about things that may have otherwise been thrown away.

“It served as our flagship communication tool in the campaign to improve the way waste is managed in our area,” she said. “Importantly, it also served to foster artistic and cultural excellence and community cohesion.

“Adding to the success of the project was the collaboration with many different champions of waste and art, including NetWaste, Western Riverina Arts, Kerri Weymouth Art, Isis Ronan-Rae, as well as our waste partners Kurrajong Recycling and Wormtech. We also secured funding from the NSW Government for the exhibition opening.

“Thank you to everyone who was involved and who supported the initiative. Thanks also to our staff and councillors for their support.”

A crowd at an art show

Residents enjoy the exhibition. Photo: Supplied.

The primary school competition was taken out by St Joseph’s Jerilderie’s Ryder Billing, who transformed bits of broken mobile phones, toys and a severed Barbie doll into an eagle-shaped sculpture.

“An eagle in its nest was created with junk and e-waste. I wanted to explore taking apart old mobile phones and old broken toys to make an eagle because we always see them flying around our area in the sky,” he said.

A boy with his art and award certificate

Ryder Billing alongside his winning entry, Prime Eagle. Photo: Supplied.

Finley High student Travis Lawton was judged to have the equal-best high school/community entry with his work Long Horns, featuring a bull’s head design made from scrap metal. Honours were shared for this category with Coleambally’s Heather Goudie for her entry, titled Nestling’s Feedtime.

“I was lucky enough to be able to do a workshop with Andrew Whitehead [maverick Urana artist], where I made this sculpture,” Travis said. “The agriculture background of our area is what inspired me to make a bull’s head.”

KAB NSW chief executive Val Southam said the commitment of the councils, organisations and individuals who entered was evident in the calibre of the entries received this year and she congratulated the winners, finalists and everyone else who took part.

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