July 3, 2013

Hubcap Creatures: Waste Recycled as Art. ~ David Thomas

Ptolemy Elrington is a sculptor living in the seaside town of Brighton-on-Sea in Britain.

At the end of his road, there’s a sharp corner where vehicles often lose their hubcaps. About 12 years ago, Ptolemy began collecting these orphaned ‘caps and turning them into fish.

He’d bend them, tweak them with pliers, drill them and connect them with wires. He gave them to friends. They’d each be made of several hubcaps, and their eyes would be car manufacturers’ badges.

The only electric tool Ptolemy would use was his drill. Otherwise all his fish were crafted by hand, and each had its own personality—dictated by the pliability and characteristic of the hubcaps he’d find.

Gradually, people began donating hubcaps. Gradually, people began buying them.

Aesthetically, Ptolemy’s art has a Burning Man feel. The materials look truly appreciated in their new form. Over the years he has built a menagerie of animals, including a few human ones—a life-size samurai and geisha for Ernst & Young, and more mythical characters, such as the ten-metre dragon that took ten months and two hundred hubcaps to build. That now has a flamethrower fitted.

Today Ptolemy is a full-time waste sculptor, and makes his living selling Hubcap Creatures.

“There’s an inherent message in my work relating to recycling and the nature of value, but my artistic inspiration is fired by the qualities within the raw materials… I often prefer the shapes within the raw materials to ‘do their thing,’ as this makes it more interesting for me. It makes me feel like a vehicle for the creation process rather than a controller, and not knowing the exact outcome is exciting.” ~ Ptolemy Elrington



Bonus: I met and interviewed Ptolemy at the EcoTechnology Show. Here is the video of this interview.

For more information visit here.



David Thomas writes for British sustainability blog The Eco Experts. He interviews and profiles businesses and individuals doing their own interesting thing in the area of sustainability, clean tech and circular economics.



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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Brianna Bemel

{All photos credit: The Eco Experts}

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