Lessons from the Art of Junk-Modelling

14 Aug 2022

Oftentimes children are the best teachers.

Each Thursday morning in August, my organisation is hosting, “Exploring Art Together.” This is an environment in which budding artists of all ages and all abilities can have space to ‘play’ with Art. Some of our activities are led and some are self-supervised.

The biggest surprise for me has been the self-supervised activity of “Junk-Modelling.” This is exactly what you might expect it to be: a pile of rubbish with tape to stick it together! We’ve got flower pots and cardboard tubes, boxes and plastic bowls. All the items were once useful as packaging to contain something else. Now, they are no longer needed or wanted.

The sight of one of the grandmothers carrying the large ‘house’ her granddaughter had built out of our building to take safely home is a sight that will tickle me for years. I wonder where she will find space to put it!

This activity is by far one of the children’s favourites. It requires three major ingredients: supervision for safety, a pile of discarded junk (with things to stick it together), and tons of imagination!

I have that kind of brain that sees lessons in most experiences. As the children created masterpieces of Art, I thought about the junk we have in our own lives. We all have ‘containers’ that once were useful for a task or resource whose time has passed. Now those containers clutter our lives. Penny is in the process of breathing exciting new life into a dressing table she had as a child. This is good but not what I have in mind here. Instead, Penny is restoring a piece to its original intended purpose.

What if, like the children, we could take wasted resources and make good Art? What if we could take experiences that we no longer think have value and stick them together with other experiences in new ways to find new meaning and value? The children are showing me that nothing is wasted and everything has value when mixed with energy and imagination.

Perhaps you have wasted talents (I don’t think they are ‘wasted’ but I use the language to illustrate the point) that could be put to new use. Innovation is surely a ‘new’ use for existing ingredients. It is the bottle-tops that become the new bricks to build with; wasted-plastic that becomes a new bench for the park. What use could one’s ‘wasted youth’ be put to? What value could be found in and for loss? For example, the lady who is passionate about collecting our medical waste – blister packs for pills – does so because it raises funds for Marie Curie as well as keeping the waste out of landfills. She does this also because her husband died of cancer and they were cared for by Marie Curie. I would not say everything is valuable but I would say every experience can be put to good use… as the children teach us.


A Moodscope member.

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