The Con-Venience: The Art Shop Filled With Decades-Old Trash | Waste
Jhe Con-Venience corner store in Colford in the Forest of Dean looks very much like a standard corner store. Look closely, however, and you’ll see it’s filled with decades-old junk found in the forest – sandwich boxes, beer cans, drink bottles, jars of old candy – cleaned out and neatly stacked on shelves . Walk through the forest and you’ll find a vending machine sitting in a clearing dispensing the same. It’s a bit surreal.
You’re unlikely to stay up at night worrying about that box of Irn-Bru you threw in a hedge decades ago. But Con-Venience is at the center of a new anti-litter campaign, launched this week by the Forest of Dean District Council and an environmental charity Hubbub, which aims to make sure you do. “It’s not your normal shopping experience,” says Trewin Restorick, CEO and Founder of Hubbub. The vending machine, for example, looks more like a sculpture than a snack vending machine.
Designed by Brighton-based green activist artists Lou McCurdy and Chloe Hanks, who previously worked on a similar installation titled dirty beach in Brighton, the stunt aims to address the continued impact of litter in the area. Litter across Britain costs £1billion a year to clean up – surprising, as only 19% of people admit to having dropped any, according to an environmental charity Keep Britain tidy.
“At the heart of our work,” says McCurdy, “is an essential but mysterious truth: Every plastic object any of us have ever owned still exists in some form. The Dirty Beach CON-venience boutique installation uses humor to examine the serious consequences of our modern lifestyles, raising questions about daily disposable consumerism and the downsides of such consumption.
Currently, the task of cleaning up the forest is left to the weekend volunteers, but they are gradually taking on the collective hump. “There’s a lot of litter around some of the more touristy areas, and there’s an awful lot of local community groups giving up their Saturdays and Sundays to go out and clean up litter,” Restorick says. “All these little individual acts [of littering] have an impact on the locality.
Trash crews have found crusty packages since 1983, and they’re just as troublesome now as when they were first dropped: “The person who threw this on the ground at that time didn’t no idea that 33 years later it would still be there.
While being thrown back to an era of retro-flavored crisps might be briefly enjoyable in a whatever-happens-to-the-white-dog-poop somehow this is clearly not good for the forest itself. Keeping the area looking its best costs the local authority £400,000 a year, but Restorick says it’s crucial for the local economy: “It’s obviously an aesthetic thing, but for an area that’s there to attracting tourists is quite important.
So what’s the next step? Restorick wants more community groups to recruit artists to draw attention to this particular situation and engage locals using lessons learned from the flea market business: wants to take them.