Creating art out of nothingness

Dozens of bottles hanging by jute threads sway rhythmically back and forth to a gentle breeze sweeping from the River Phalguni. The cool shade of trees provides relief from the scorching sun.

It does not take too long to realise that there would be no better venue as Mendon’s backyard, on the bank of Phalguni in Bokkapatna, Mangaluru to organising a two-day open-air, exhibition-cum-sale of hundreds of upcycled glass bottles to convey a message of creating art out of discarded bottles.

The art exhibition is the brainchild of an architect student, Megha Mendon, who showcased hundreds of dazzling bottles into vibrant art. All 28 participants, in the age group from seven to sixty years, beamed with a sense of pride while explaining to visitors on how an ordinary bottle was transformed into an artistic piece.

Art from waste

A decorated vase with jute and the floral pattern was made from a piece of unwanted intricate embroidery cloth. If unused cloth and clay gave a bottle a vintage look, seashells and plastic spoons turned another bottle into a gorgeous wall hanging. There were many elegant hand-decorated bottles, lamps, glassware, bottles with images of Yakshagana, King Shivaji, wing-commander Abhinandan Varthamanand and other characters.

Well-known environmentalist and artist Dinesh Holla says that the hundreds of beautiful art pieces on display were ordinary bottles discarded on the beach. “We had collected nearly 300 bottles from over one kilometre on the beach. The beach is still littered with thousands of bottles,” he said. In a cleanliness drive launched on the banks of River Kumaradhara by the youth volunteers, 10,000 plastic and glass bottles were collected. A recent cleanliness drive in Thannirbhavi beach had also generated a truckload of empty bottles.

The open-air bottle art exhibition was not an easy effort rather a culmination of a string of events. Megha Mendon traces her bottle art journey to 2017. She recollects going on a stroll with friends on the banks of the river where they came across many dumped glass bottles.

Guided by an inner resolve to transform them into something artistic, Megha started collecting bottles. “Many of these bottles were later gifted as hand-painted bottles,” informs Sujatha, Megha’s mother.

Dinesh Holla, a friend of Megha’s father, was highly impressed when he saw the hand-painted bottles. “The lighted bottle art (using customised LED lights) created a different aura in the dark,” Holla said.

 

Leaving an impression

Megha displaying a maturity beyond her age decided to create awareness among children about the art of turning trash into decorative pieces. She conducted the first workshop for students of government primary school in Bokkapatna in April. Buoyed by the response, she decided to organise the ‘bottle art workshop’ behind her house in Mangaluru.

During the workshop, Holla initially guided the participants on how to clean bottles, remove the wrapper and use acrylic paint. After the initial guidance, there was no looking back for the participants. Jennifer, a homemaker, said, for years she had nursed a deep desire to create bottle art. “Suddenly I saw a banner of the bottle art workshop in the city. I attended the final session and made eight articles for the exhibition,”
she recollected.

The artistic pieces made by Jennifer exhibited deft workmanship, a visitor felt.

Vaishnavi, from Shakthinagar, came to know about the workshop through social media. “Creating bottle art has become easy and interesting,” she added. For students, Dhanya and Jaanvi, bottle art was a refreshing craft. Their surprise knew no bounds when their artistic bottles were purchased by some visitors.

Future plans

Megha said her family members and friends had played a crucial role in her endeavour of setting up bottle art workshop and exhibition.

Megha says drawing profiles on bottles is difficult and requires a lot of patience. “It takes over two days to paint a profile on the bottle,” she informs.

“When such a creative initiative emerges from each home, there will be no waste,” Holla emphasises. Megha has set her goals higher. She plans to organise bottle art camps on a regular basis for young people and has plans to do something similar with plastic bottles.

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