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Waste art making waves

Dani Henke with two of her helpers for the collaborative art piece at the Masterton District Library, Ruby and Lelia. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

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An artist’s idea to utilise the rubbish around her to create art and sculpture earned her the latest NZ Pacific Studio Masterton Fellowship.

Dani Henke, a multi-media artist originally from Midwest USA, living in Wellington, spent the past three weeks in Masterton exploring the use of plastic that would otherwise be waste.

The transition from the city to the country for the fellowship had been “very quiet”, she said.

She has spent a lot of her time researching other artists who use plastic, other movements, speaking with members of the community, and meeting other artists.

It had given her a chance to go further into her work and do some material exploration into how she could work different waste products into her sculpture.

“As an artist in the era of climate crisis, it’s often tough to justify making, or at least making in a particular way.

“A movement has been taking root worldwide with sustainability and social welfare at its core.

“Makers marry historical craft techniques with contemporary innovation to find sustainability.”

Last Thursday, she spent a couple hours creating a collaborative artwork with others at Masterton District Library.

She said her passion to work with waste came from it being problematic for, and relevant to society.

When she arrived in New Zealand, it was with the belief that the country had a pristine landscape.

“That was not the case,” she said.

Working at Unity Books, she oversaw the disposal of the plastic bags leading up to and after the ban which led her to many websites and statistics.

“Some of the statistics you think, these can’t be true,” she said.

“252,000 tons of plastic goes to the landfill every year and 25,000kg are littered in New Zealand every day.

“Scientists predict that unless we change our consumer patterns now, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

“That blew my mind.”

On a positive note, she said New Zealand was making an effort.

“It’s not all rain clouds and sadness.”

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