Photographic challenge

Project dates : October 2015 - November 2016

Participants were invited to take part in a national photographic challenge to look afresh at plastic. The challenge was open to individuals of all ages, as well as school and family groups.

The challenge was inspired by ‘Plastics Vanitas’, an exhibition by artist Mariele Neudecker of still life photographs which she has created from plastic objects from the MoDiP collection.

‘Vanitas’ paintings are a specific type of 17th century Dutch still life that presented everyday objects as symbols of human achievement and the inevitability of death.

More things are now made of plastics than of any other materials group. Plastics can add to the convenience of life and even save life but they also impact on world sustainability. 

The challenge was to collect together plastic things and photograph them so that the resulting image was memorable and expresse the participants' ideas about plastic, be that positive or negative.


Colouring the Invisible by Julia Vogl

This art installation up for 2 months comprised of 106 M of multi-colour plastic vinyl placed on a schools atrium windows reflected the number and percentage of languages the community was fluent in. Made by Julia Vogl and the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies


Colouring the Invisible

Speaker and jug by Fleda Clarkson

Big chunks of polished bakelite, delicate decorative combs, colour and light. What’s not to love about plastics?


Speaker and jug

Flower Pot Dog by Stephanie Overton

The Flower Pot Dog at Blue Poole near Corfe Castle. Plastics can be artistically recycled! Just use your imagination!


Flower Pot Dog

The Pigeons by Stephanie Overton

The pigeons of Cairns Street in Liverpool. The streets are abandoned and ruined, but in order to keep the spirits high for the surrounding neighbours, art works and objects have been integrated in to the buildings.


The Pigeons

I still like plastics! by Karel Julien Cole

As a baby I loved the rattle of Kiddicraft a “sensible” toy designed by Hilary Page. Sixty-five years later I am plastic collector and the rattle my favourite piece.


I still like plastics!

Old broken Bakelite billiard balls by Karel Julien Cole

I found old billiard balls. They were dull and dirty and I could not guess of what material they were made. Two balls showed superfine cracks, one crack around the ball and the others starting and stopping at that around crack.

I decided to split a ball holding a chopping-knife on the crack and giving it a firm hit with the hammer. The result is amazing, the around crack is 5 mm deep and darkened inside. The other cracks are not so darken. The centre of the ball is hard, glossy white, 100% pure cast phenol formaldehyde. The billiard balls have a diameter of 45 mm.


Old broken Bakelite billiard balls

Beachcombed bottle tops and beads by Delia Webb

Littered plastic bottle tops and tiny beads from fishing nets are found on every beach clean around my Cornish home.


Beachcombed bottle tops and beads

Blue plastic by Millie Pell

A box of blue, lost and discarded plastic we collected on the journey to and from school over the course of a year.


Blue plastic

Race track by Millie Pell

The race track, inspired by the find of a small, blue, plastic car.  Photographed on our garden table which is made of polywood, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) derived from waste plastic bottles.


Race track

Orphaned objects from a Cornish beach by Jo Atherton

I’m an artist collecting plastic object from the UK coastline. Notwithstanding obvious environmental concerns, intercepting the tideline reveals the pervasiveness of plastic in our lives and in turn, affords insights into our tastes, lifestyles and histories.

Some of the common objects that find their way into the sea are plastic children’s toys. While we have grown up, their adventures have continued beneath the waves. These playthings, scaled down and mass-produced representations of everyday life, offer a miniature version of the world.


Orphaned objects from a Cornish beach

Colorful heart by Artignoa

This photo shows some of the microplastic we have collected from the coastline of our island.


Colorful heart

Razor by Dorine Bessière

This photograph shows a plastic green and purple razor on a pink background. It is shaving the first layer, showing a second bubbly skin underneath. This is showing the motion in which the razor is intended to be used. Moreover this is used as a metaphor related to a famous quote “you should not judge a book by its cover”. I wanted to photograph a casual object from our everyday life to represent something bigger than just its traditional use.



Fishing Lines by Adele Price

Sadly, fishing lines and sometimes weights are lost by anglers on the beach and then washed up at high tide. I always pick them up and take them home.


Fishing Lines

Smiley Face? by Adele Price

Found on the Beach


Smiley Face?

Little Red Car by Adele Price

I love beachcombing and was happy to find this little red car either abandoned on the beach or washed up by the tide.


Little Red Car

Happy Face! by Adele Price

Lost toy found on the beach


Happy Face!

Plastic Vanitas I by Madeleine Kimberley

From my 2013 series exploring the visual language of vanitas paintings.


Plastic Vanitas I

Plastic Vanitas II by Madeleine Kimberley

From my 2013 series exploring the visual language of vanitas paintings.


Plastic Vanitas II

Plastic Vanities III by Madeleine Kimberley

From my 2013 series exploring the visual language of vanitas paintings.


Plastic Vanities III

Disposable Christmas by Candice Boyd

This photo was taken on Christmas Day, after lunch and the popping of Christmas crackers. I was struck by the little collection of cheap, plastic objects inside the crackers that would likely be thrown away at the end of the day.


Disposable Christmas

Soaring in The French Alps by Alan Gubbay

This is my powered sailplane in the mountains of Provence. The airframe is constructed entirely of plastic.


Soaring in The French Alps

Guardian of plastic blocks by Magdalena Zdrojewska

Colourful baby’s toys against the deep, contrasting background.


Guardian of plastic blocks

Straw Man by Sean Aita

Image of plastic Skeleton shaped straw


Straw Man

Leos heritage by Zimmermann Joerg Josef

Design for ever


Leos heritage

Love is in the air by Zimmermann Joerg Josef

Hairdryer from the past


Love is in the air

Love me Tender by NitinKumar Amin

Abandoned doll found and collected at a car boot sale. Doll has gone through many hands and loved with care now has no purpose.


Love me Tender

Office vanitas by Emma Hunt

A non digital collection of plastic office items that jumped out at me as ‘office vanitas’ as I worked one Friday afternoon, naturally lit against the dark office desk, and taken with my iPhone.


Office vanitas

Office Party by Bow Arts Trust

As Mariele Neudecker’s Plastic Vanitas is exhibited at the Nunnery Gallery, the contemporary art Gallery of Bow Arts Trust, the Bow Arts team has joined in the challenge to create their own plastic vanitas!


Office Party

The epic journey in orange and blue by Bow Arts Trust

As Mariele Neudecker’s Plastic Vanitas is exhibited at the Nunnery Gallery, the contemporary art Gallery of Bow Arts Trust, the Bow Arts team has joined in the challenge to create their own plastic vanitas!


The epic journey in orange and blue

My happy place by Tessa Bryant

The hockey pitch, an astroturf, is my happy place. I can go there to have fun, make friends, destress by hitting some hockey balls and keep safe wearing my gum shield. Plastic makes those things possible.


My happy place

MELT at the Observatory by Trudi Lloyd Williams

MELT at the Observatory during my Artist in Residence. Plastic marine debris including plastic food wrapping, plastic bags, plastic bottles and lids, personal hygiene items and fishing ghost gear frozen into ice sculptures inside discarded water bottles left to melt on charred wood inside a charred hut. No freezing temperatures outside, just record breaking temperatures with spring flowers in bloom and flooding all over the UK.


MELT at the Observatory

Marine Plastics at the Observatory by Trudi Lloyd Williams

Whilst Artist in Residence at The Observatory, I collected marine plastic that had been washed up on the beach at the Lymington and Keyhaven Salt Marshes. My practice focuses on the beauty and the contamination created by marine plastic pollution and I use waste plastic to create my large, suspended sculptures.


Marine Plastics at the Observatory

The Refinery Drinks Commission by Jon Mackenzie

Fruit infusion


The Refinery Drinks Commission

Little treasures by Magdalena Zdrojewska

A collection of buttons on a soft, tulle fabric.


Little treasures

Making new connections by Diane Gillespie

Representing family, friends and colleagues and the importance of a support network.


Making new connections

Plastic from the sea by Wendy Maylam

This photo shows some of the plastic I have collected from the beach in the last few months.



Plastic from the sea

Kitchen Flowers by Joanne Bryant

my kitchen !

Kitchen Flowers

Sri Lanka Village Sculpture by Myra Poyser

Taken in a small village in Sri Lanka made up from plastic drinking bottles.


Sri Lanka Village Sculpture

Dog toys No. 1 by Lauren

Plastic shop bought toys we thought our puppy would like.


Dog toys No. 1

Dog toys No. 2 by Lauren

Plastic packaging that our dog prefers.


Dog toys No. 2

Pretty in Pink! by Diane Gillespie

Playful pinks to brighten up dull winter days.


Pretty in Pink!

Products / geometry / colours / abstraction by Danielao Osorio

Our eyes are used to seeing a wide range of branded products with different shapes and colours. Often, if not always, these products fight for attention and try to overshadow each other.

In the case of these photographs the three featured non-branded products are not fighting for attention like in a store shelf, but instead they create abstract and harmonic compositions. The products stop being products and become colourful geometry. The yellow container inside the Kinder Surprise stops being a container to become a spherocylinder.


Products / geometry / colours / abstraction

But what is it? by Mark Amphlet

Plastic components, just manufactured and waiting to be delivered …..


But what is it?

They Were All Yellow by Saria Monsen-Elvik

Injection moulded plastic stools, seen from the underside shows off the walls and ribbing cleverly designed into the geometry of the part to add strength and stability.


They Were All Yellow


This was an installation work comprised of 2000 recycled bottles transformed to hold messages and be strung and create a chandelier reflecting the community in Newcastle. Made by myself in collaboration with visitors to Museums at Night at the Newcastle Discovery Museum.



Plastic Hotchpotch by Frost family


Plastic Hotchpotch

Still life with Pineapple by Gerson Lessa

Some kitchen objects made from polyethylene in the 1950s and 60s in Brazil. From left to right: Three egg holders, a lemon squeezer, a rice washer and a decorative pineapple.


Still life with Pineapple

Still water by Richard Clegg

Alessi Ship Shape Butter Dish (Yellow) by Stefano Giovannoni and Paul Van Lersel Harry. The photograph was taken as part of a still life and studio lighting exercise. The butter dish is still in use today.


Still water

Hidden Treasure! by Diane Gillespie

Sparkly jewels in the dressing up box.


Hidden Treasure!

What’s for lunch? by Magdalena Zdrojewska

High contrast image of white forks on pink background, casting sharp shadows.


What’s for lunch?

Beachcombing for fun by Silvano João Oliveira Bem

A small arrangement of items you can find while beachcombing: HP cartridges from a cargo spill, vintage toys and bits and pieces.


Beachcombing for fun