Head up to the first floor of the Southbank Centre, walk through the sweet-smelling roof garden with its beds of wild flowers and past the mock-ups of African mud huts and eventually you will come to a mysterious cavern, filled with white stalactites and stalagmites. All is not what it seems however – look closely and you’ll see that these are made of plastic, but not just any sort of plastic – they’re constructed from empty milk bottles. This is ‘Wastescape’, the new artwork by Gayle Chong Kwan.
Enlisting the help of the residents of Moravia, an area in Medellin, Columbia which was built on top of a refuse dump but which has found a future in art and creativity, ‘Wastescape’ is a tribute to this community. After undertaking a study at the Bywaters recycling plant (where the Southbank Centre’s refuse is processed) Gayle set about creating ‘Wastescape’, utilising used plastic milk bottles and packaging materials. Walk through this strange space and you’ll also hear recordings of residents of both Moravia and London talking about the development of the urban environment and waste. To say that walking around this space is an odd experience is an understatement – if you visit just take time to reflect on the fact that every year, the average Londoner will discard about 500 kilogrammes of paper, plastics, glass, metal and food waste. A few more images of Wastescape can be found here on Google+