Can plastic waste become an element of art? Oddly enough, but yes. You can reuse it to create something beautiful, as the artist Veronika Richterovà did.

The problems related to the use (and abuse) of plastic are well known. While experts warn that, at this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea, some people have found a way to reuse the offending material in a very creative way. Indeed, better: making something beautiful out of it. It is done by the Czech artist Veronika Richterovà. Let’s discover her creations.

Veronika Richterová JAPANESE CARPS: PET-art: Turning Plastic Waste into Art
Veronika Richterová JAPANESE CARPS KÓI, 2017, plastic sheets, photo Michal Cihlář

The (real) art of Recycle

PET-art” is how the artist defines her works. PET is the abbreviation of polyethylene terephthalate, the material of which plastic bottles are mainly composed. Since 2004, Veronika has travelled to over 76 countries and collected thousands of bottles that she has turned into pieces of display art. Indeed, there have been many exhibitions in which she has participated, both individually and together with other contemporary artists. Her brilliant intuition was to realize that the heated plastic becomes moldable and any shape can be obtained.

Veronika Richterová, Seven Roses, with recycled plastic bottles
Veronika Richterová, SEVEN ROSES, 2019, photo Michal Cihlář

“The principle is very simple: every PET bottle tends to become smaller when heated. However, in my experience, it is difficult to adjust the process since the different types of bottles are of different quality and their behaviour is often unpredictable. The work is always full of adventures, the final sculpture is usually the result of many experiments. The biggest advantage is that there is a lot of free material all over the world. I have a special house full of bottles that I find, which is my ‘treasure’ where I can go to choose what I want to work with”.

Veronika Richterová works of art made with recycled bottles
Veronika Richterová, PRICKLY PEAR, 2017, JELLYFISH, 2014, CACTUS, 2017, photo Michal Cihlář

Creations that help the Environment

Born as a visual experiment, it has become a real mission. Cut, heat and shape. What? Several sculptures, but we show you in particular one of the most surprising collections of Richterovà. It’s called “Pet Luminaries” and consists of a series of chandeliers made by recycling plastic bottles collected around the world. Elaborate compositions, with a retro taste, almost regal as some works recall the great chandeliers of the 18th and 19th century ballrooms.

LUSTR pro Hladíka II
Veronika Richterová, BAROCK CHANDELIER II. 2018, photo Michal Cihlář

An example that can be inspirational: recycling plastic, and many other materials and objects of our daily life, not only it’s a gesture of respect for the environment and can reduce waste and save money. It can also be beautiful, fun and bring amazing results.

Veronika Richterová's work of art
Veronika Richterová HUNGRY ANEMONES, 2017, photo Michal Cihlář
VELKÝ KAKTUS work of art made with recycled pastic bottles
Veronika Richterová HUGE CACTUS, 2017, photo Michal Cihlář
Veronika Richterová Crocodile made with plastic
Veronika Richterová CROCODILE, 2009, photo Michal Cihlář
Veronika Richterová works of art made with recycled bottles
Veronika Richterová MORPHO BUTTERFLIES, 2009, photo Michal Cihlář
PET-art: Turning Plastic Waste into Art
Veronika Richterová PALM ISLANDS, 2014, photo Michal Cihlář
PET-art: Turning Plastic Waste into Art
Veronika Richterová PENGUINS, 2008, photo Michal Cihlář

Have you ever tried do-it-yourself to recycle materials? Share your ideas. And if you want to start, you can take inspiration from this simple activity that we proposed a few weeks ago. Enjoy yourself by freeing your creative ecological spirit!

Cover image: LEAPING GREY MULLETS-detail, 2006, detail