While in Tonga I had the chance to meet some very creative and even more resourceful artists. Despite a lack of supplies – due to costs or products simply not being available in the country – they had still managed to create a range of diverse and interesting pieces out of what’s considered basics: black ink, clay, charcoal, grey pencils etc. Often mixing traditional concepts with contemporary styles. It got me thinking about, not only what art is, but what’s required to create it.
So I set off to make something of my own.
I identified used phone recharge cards as my material. They came in an array of colours and were in absolute abundance, found simply littered and discarded everywhere. I only had to pick them up as I went along. Even my short two minute walk home after work would me provide me with at least twenty cards. Despite the strange looks being a foreigner picking up rubbish, it just became second nature.
I never thought about what I was going to make until I actually started sticking cards on the wall – which was on the day I was moving out of that house and leaving the country. I’m not sure how that part of ‘art’ works or what comes first: the vague idea or the visual piece…
But I guess I knew that regardless if I was going to be leaving something beautiful on the wall, at least I was helping to leave the country that way.
“Think about what you’re throwing away”
The final piece.
The inside jokes we have with our friends are like seeds.
They start of small, but with enough attention, they can can grow into much more.
Almost 1 year ago now, when I was living with a few friends, a seed was planted. I had been throwing tea bags into our backyard under the assumption they would decompose. While mowing the lawn, my housemate would come across them — confused and under the assumption it was our neighbours’ doing. Then one day when he vented his frustration about our neighbours’ alleged littering, the truth came out — and an inside joke sprouted.
As you can see by the screenshots below, other friends also used their wit to water what we had growing. While overseas, it inspired me with an idea of how to give life to an otherwise barren tree. Not only that. I was keeping a joke, a special bond, alive.
Each morning as I would sit outside in the sun sipping my green, I would think about the people who bring a similar kind of warmth to my life. I’d hang up my used teabags and string them together the same way my relationship with them is strung together by a series of individual events and encounters. Despite the strange looks my new neighbours were giving me, I’d smile to myself.
The jokes we have might seem simple and frivolous; but with enough care, all together, they can make something really beautiful… at least in our own eyes.