Art students re-create natural beauty of Northumberland for composting project

Art students re-create natural beauty of Northumberland for composting project

Art students re-create natural beauty of Northumberland for composting project  
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Northumberland College’s Art students have teamed up with Northumberland County Council and The Alnwick Garden on a project to decorate compost bins to fundraise for a local charity and increase awareness of home composting week in early May.

The project was initiated by Northumberland County Council to involve the students in waste and recycling issues and encourage them to see an item of waste as an art medium. 

The compost bins used are the same size, shape and fabric as a standard compost bin but have no hatch opening and have no lid. The hatch is seen by many gardeners as surplus to requirement so the bins are perfectly functional without that feature.

The lids were donated by Straight PLC and Northumberland County Council donated the bins. 

Students were briefed to decorate the bin in a way that would create interest in the garden and inspire people to get involved and see home composting in a different light.

As a result, the 34 students have designed and painted bins depicting outdoor scenes with local landmarks and wildlife which represent the many facets of the county of Northumberland.

Scenes include the wildlife of the county, Woodhorn pit wheel, the Puffins of the Farne Islands, historic castles, Blyth beach huts, the couple statue at Newbiggin-by-the Sea, The Royal Border Bridge at Berwick and boats to play tribute to the fishing heritage of the county.

The bins have been transformed and will be transported to The Alnwick Garden by Doves Builders Merchant in Ashington who are supporting the project. They will be on public display from Friday 11 April to 9 May. 

Patrick O'Doherty, Programme Area Leader for Creative at Northumberland College said: "This has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to put their creative skills to the test in a very different way.

"Our students wanted to show the public that, rather than the bin being seen as an eye sore, it could in fact, have an interesting feature or be their own work of art. They have responded brilliantly and come up with some wonderful designs that really showcase their talents and the beauty within our county."

Councillor Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for waste management at Northumberland County Council added:  "This initiative represents an excellent way to re-use items that would otherwise have gone to waste, and has also provided the students with an innovative design project.  The results are stunning, and I can see that the students have put a lot of thought into what are the key attractions of our fantastic county."

The compost bins will be placed around The Alnwick Gardens in appropriate surroundings to complement the design. Visitors will be given a map and will be able to follow a trail around the gardens to see all bins in place.  Visitors will be able to vote for their favourite and a series of prizes will be awarded for those most popular from the public vote. 

Visitors will also be able to enter a silent bid for any of the bins with all proceeds donated to the 'Roots & Shoots Garden' which supports a number of projects such as; Blooming Well, providing therapeutic gardening and wellbeing activities for adults with early onset dementia and memory loss;  The Forget-me-Not project, providing family gardening for children with disabilities in a safe and supported learning environment; and the Northumberland Schools programme, teaching children basic planting and gardening techniques, learning about nutrition and healthy food choices.

Judging of the bins and the silent auction will be overseen by The Alnwick Garden and any that are not sold in the auction will be offered for sale to garden visitors with proceeds also going to charity. 

The votes will be collected and the winning design announced at a special prize giving ceremony at The Alnwick Garden on Wednesday 7 May to coincide with National Compost Awareness Week, 5 - 11 May 2014.

Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places and will be donated by Northumberland County Council and The Alnwick Garden.

Northumberland College offers art and design courses in a range of disciplines from Level 1 up to HND Level. 


The photograph shows the students with their compost bins at Northumberland College.