The Umcebo Design team were approached by Nicky du Plessis from Cultural Radius about building a tree for the COP17 Conference in Durban next week. The Department of Arts and Culture wanted a tree made from recycled materials. They also required 3 000 leaves made from recycled materials, which could be attached separately by delegates onto the tree during the COP17 event, to be held in Durban.
The Umcebo Design team has been working in partnership with Wendy Chatterton from Ukhamba Craft for some time. It was decided to take her technique of crocheting a recycled T-shirt off-cut, and crochet that onto welded armatures, in order to make creative, decorative and sculptural pieces. Umcebo Design has been known for its trees, made from beadwork and recycled materials for some time now: “It is no surprise that we started working on a prototype tree immediately with Wendy,” says creative director Robin Opperman.
The deadline for the production of the COP17 tree is very tight, but the 3 000 leaves are currently in production, the welded armature is being made, and balls of material are being rolled for the crocheting of the piece, which will commence this week. Wendy has assembled a group of unemployed women in the Hammarsdale area, who will be crocheting along with herself. The piece will then be delivered to the ICC, in preparation for attaching the leaves on 26, 27 and 29 November. Opperman goes on to say, “We hope that this will be a landmark project, which will cement working relationships between the various partners and set the stage for a host of projects and collaborations in the future, and create exciting products and generate money for a host of community crafters and their families.”
Recycling should be exciting and interesting, and Umcebo Design hopes that this project and the others to follow will move in this direction and challenge people’s ideas of what is possible.
Next week we will showcase the final tree, follow our twitter feed.
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