29 Jul 2021

Meet Sarah Turner, an eco-artist and a woman on a mission to revive our rubbish and inspire people to think differently about their household waste.

As part of our Love it for Longer summer exhibition, Sarah will be joining our fantastic event line up this summer to educate and interact with our visitors by encouraging them to think twice before throwing out their rubbish.

As an Eco-artist, Sarah creates unusual, practical and decorative things from waste, something she has been passionate about from a young age. Ahead of her eco-artistry workshop, we met with Sarah to find out more about her, what inspires her to create things from waste and what visitors can expect from her upcoming events at the zoo…


Tell us a bit about you, and what you do…

“I’m and eco-artist and designer, so what that means is, I only make things out of rubbish. So I collect things from people’s houses, businesses that would normally go to waste, and upcycle it into lovely new creations. I’m obsessed with using plastic bottles and tin cans, they’re my main source of material but I often get offered random materials. The other day someone gave me a popped air bed and a paddling pool, and managed to make it into a giant turtle! Each day is different and creating things from rubbish is much better than throwing it away!

“I also run workshops and classes, going into schools, at events and places like Chester Zoo, to teach people how to upcycle and create things out of their everyday rubbish. It’s a real passion of mine and I like how people can learn how to create things with me, and hopefully take something new home with them, whilst also taking materials home with them so they continue to create things. I also sell my work on my website and through galleries and I get commissioned to create large artworks/sculptures. Sometimes companies will send us rubbish and say ‘can you create something for us?’, whether that’s a large sculpture for their lobby or a two metre giant turtle for the high street!”

What inspired you to become an eco-artist?

“I’ve always been into making things since I was young. We used to keep yogurt pots and packets in our garage, to create a little area for me to create new things. When I went to university, I studied design whilst working part time in a coffee shop, but we didn’t have any recycling bins back then. So we used to throw away a lot of plastic bottles and cans, and I always thought what a shame, I’ll try and take some home with me to see if I can make something from them. I’d often go home with one or two giant bin bags full of rubbish a day! Walking them back to my student accommodation to try and make things from them. I also made some lighting out of plastic bottles for my degree show, and people were coming up to me to say ‘can I buy one of those?’. That’s when I first started to my business, back in 2008.”

What can people do at home, to be more sustainable whilst being creative?

“Look at what you’re throwing away and start from there. Gather all your materials together and see what inspires you or what you could create. Plastic bottles for example, lend themselves well to create flowers out of them. General household materials are often quite good for art materials, I always feel like you don’t have to go out and spend lots of money on fancy art materials. For example, nail polish works really well on plastic bottles because they’ve already got the brush right there so you don’t even have to buy any equipment, just use that! It can be quite surprising what you can actually make just from what you already have at home. So gather all your rubbish together, see what inspires you and have a think about what art materials you might already have in your home.”

What can people expect from your workshop at the zoo?

“Visitors will get to make their very own upcycled light from a plastic bottle. So they’ll learn how to create a lovely decorative flower across the bottle, learn how to attach an LED light to it and it’s all made from materials that they can find at home. So once they’ve learned how to make one and take it home with them, they will hopefully feel inspired to create new things at home.”

What do you hope visitors will take away from your workshop?

“They certainly won’t look at a plastic bottle in the same way again! Hopefully they’ll be looking at plastic bottles in the shop and thinking ‘oh that’ll be a nice bottle to make a flower!’. I just hope they’ll be inspired to think twice about rubbish and think about whether they can make some useful or decorative from it.”

Feeling inspired?

Drop by to see Sarah and get creative at her workshop on 4 and 25 August, and learn to love it for longer whilst creating beautiful things!

Find out more

Visit our Sustainability spectacular this summer!

A completely utterly incredibly absolutely, gobsmackingly, amazing exhibition that is 100% TOTAL UTTER TRASH.

We will be turning the world of waste on its head. From plastic and technology to water and even POO! We’ll be revolutionising our rubbish and learning to…


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