“Rubbish” artworks to be exhibited in the near future

14 Sep 2021

Fuelled by her passion for sustainability and the healing power of nature, Debbie Lim with the support of the Creative Communities Scheme, created and ran a weekend workshop over the July school holidays, where school children and their parents scoured Whitianga picking up rubbish to take back to the Art Centre on School Road to sort out, wash and create art. 

The rubbish hunt day on 17 July presented with what Debbie called “the worst weather of the year”.  When she asked the parents and their kids if they wanted to flag the outdoors activities in favour of staying inside to just do art, they were all fired up to get out in the weather and clean up the town. The group of kids ranging from pre-school to middle school ages, with their parents and a couple of volunteers, got out in the nasty weather and picked up what Debbie said was an overwhelming amount of debris. 

The group split up into teams and worked their way through the Whitianga skatepark, Robinson Road, Brophy’s Beach, Joan Gaskell Drive and the beach end of the State Highway 25 bypass (at Racecourse Road). Debbie and her daughter worked on the Racecourse Road part, and Debbie was dismayed at the shocking amount of rubbish there, which had been dumped presumably from cars. The rubbish had then been mowed into the grass, washed into the drains and was on the way to Buffalo Beach. 

Debbie said that the children were especially amazed at the variety of rubbish they were finding with some very weird and wacky things - especially in the middle of town. They found tap fittings, an entire bag of sawdust, a rubber bib, broken ceramics, a leather glove and of course an abundant amount of bottles and cans. 

All of the teams brought their rubbish collections back to the Art Centre where they washed it all, sorted it into categories and photographed it. For the rest of the day the children and their parents were treated to an acrylic painting workshop with Debbie.

On the second day, 18 July, Debbie brought in friend and artist, Christina McGrath from Tairua, to teach the group techniques of creating seascapes using acrylic pouring. Acrylic pouring is a method where acrylic paints are watered down and the mixture poured over mediums, in this case hard boards, to create colours that approximate ocean scenes. Later in the day, the group worked in teams to integrate their favourite bits of rubbish collected on the day before into their artworks.   

Debbie said that she has had an incredible amount of positive feedback from the parents and children alike. “As a parent attendee of the course I was impressed and grateful for the skill and passion that Debbie shared with us,” one of the parents said. “My daughter was riveted - from the storm-tossed search for rubbish to the new techniques for painting and ultimately to the finished product. And what a great way to introduce our kids and families to the Art Centre, a real community treasure. My daughter loved every minute.”  

Debbie also said that the adults seemed to really enjoy the creative process in the workshop. As busy parents, they don’t often get the chance to just stop and create.  

Debbie has now turned her focus onto creating her own artwork from the collected rubbish. She has started creating a korowai (cloak) for a new artwork in the works dedicated to Tane (god of the forest). Tane will be a companion artwork to Tangaroa's Tears, which Debbie created for and displayed at March’s Mercury Bay Art Escape Open Studios. Tane will be on display for the 2022 Open Studios along with a collection of ocean-inspired art by Debbie. 
The artworks created by the children and their parents at Debbies July school holidays workshop will be exhibited at Mosaic Gallery in Whitianga sometime in the near future, Covid-19 Alert Levels dependent. The dates will be announced soon. Debbie is also preparing for an exhibition called “Amplify”, an ocean art and sustainability festival, in Whangamata in February next year.

Debbie hopes to run another school holidays workshop where rubbish is turned into art, but she is not yet sure when, based on the disruptions caused by the recent lockdown. For more information about her activities, follow Debbie on her Facebook page, Debbie Lim Wellness.

Pictured: Whitianga artist, Debbie Lim, at the workshop she hosted during the July school holidays this year.