It was all about art at Sustainable Whanganui during these school holidays.

In the first week the Harakeke Room at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre was opened up to children aged 12-14 every day from 10.30-2.30. They were all part of the Recycled Art Sculpture Garden Project.

When the Chronicle walked in artists of all ages were so engrossed they barely raised their heads. They were making their own individual projects, or working together on larger ones, lead artist Esther Topfer said.

They had a curtain of plastic flowerettes and a chandelier to hang. One boy was making a robot out of bits of discarded electrical equipment, another a snake out of a thick piece of industrial wire, others made real gardens in hollowed out and painted water containers.


Each had made an individual sculpture, with lids glued to a painted backing, or objects attached to a bicycle wheel.

The sessions were free to participants, because the week is funded by Whanganui Creative Communities. Sustainable Whanganui got the funding, and Topfer quickly came up with a project.

She has arts and teaching qualifications, and wanted to involve children. The result has thrilled her.

"If only life was like this every day," she said.

"I go home at night and I can't sleep for excitement. I had a programme for them and they have exceeded the expectations so I have had to come up with special projects for individuals to keep up with them."

About 14 children have come along every day. Their age group has the strength and dexterity to cut up plastic bottles and use a glue gun. They had a room to use for spraypainting, and masks to wear while doing it, and adult artists were there to help.

As well as a huge range of material from the bulging Reuse Academy rooms at the centre the children used rocks from Bark & Boulders Landscape Supplies, wood from Beadles Panel Products and bamboo from Paloma Gardens.

The sign for the Recycled Art Sculpture Garden is made out of lids. Whanganui Chronicle photograph by Bevan Conley.
The sign for the Recycled Art Sculpture Garden is made out of lids. Whanganui Chronicle photograph by Bevan Conley.

An area next to the centre's green waste has been set aside for the garden.


Topfer will put down carpet and gravel over the grass and install the sculptures under the trees during the coming week. She hopes they will become an ongoing project.

"I would like to think that they will be updated regularly. We have tried to make them as durable as possible," she said.

++ Preschool and primary-aged children will have their fun at the centre on July 17, when Sustainable Whanganui's Lyn Pearson and Peter Watson host a session for making things - mainly repurposing lids.

It runs from 10.30am to 3pm and parents are welcome to stay. Attendees are asked to bring food to share for lunch, and make a donation. There is no need to register.