10 March – 2 June 2018
Glover began to collect plastic bottles from roadside verges in 2003, making scanograms of each using a black box mounted on a flat-bed scanner. To the viewer they may seem akin to human portraits, even imparting the objects some nobility and even though the bottles represent no more than thoughtlessly discarded plastic waste.
Human-produced toxic waste began long before the onset of consumerism and the availability of modern plastics. Some plastics persist in the environment for thousands of years, with serious consequence for sensitive ecological processes and food webs. Over 13 billion plastic water bottles are sold every year in the UK of which only one quarter are recycled. A single one litre plastic bottle requires 162g of oil and seven litres of water in its manufacture and produces 100gs of carbon dioxide. Cannot society, for ultimately our own selfish benefit, do without them?
The title of this project draws upon the final page of Charles Darwin’s famous Origin of Species. Here Darwin speaks of an earth bank covered by grass and other flora, a place not so different from places where Glover collected bottles. For Darwin, such banks formed storehouses of biological complexity where the waste of one species composed the food for another. Waste is sometimes referred to as ‘matter in the wrong place’ but Darwin showed that there is no waste in nature.