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Carefully Packaged


Is this body of work a glimpse of a ‘museum exhibit’ in the not too distant future? How will our lifestyle approaches, habits and technology evolve to protect the planet further?

Sustainability is quite a common word today; with children as young as primary school age being introduced to the concept. These ‘little people’ are educated to realise that our daily actions have an impact on future generations and the existence of humankind. 

I was just 10 years old when the first world’s first climate conference took place in Geneva, in 1979. Many topics were discussed from environment, ecology, water resources and energy to sociology and economics. I am sure it made the headlines and provoked some debate; however, I am unaware if many people would have really given it much thought back then, and social media didn’t exist to help rattle cages. Setting the wheels in motion to change habits and implementing new behaviours is a slow process. It needs to be a team and worldwide effort which unfortunately doesn’t happen overnight. Human lifestyle, activities and desires need to be controlled to prevent depletion of our natural resources and nurture the vulnerable aspects of the planet we have left.


Recycling is becoming more commonplace now and we are all hopefully trying to do our bit.

‘Carefully Packaged’ evolved from some building work that started at home in January 2022. We had building materials, boxes and products delivered. The skip overflowed with rubble, bricks, and 100 year old wood. I became fascinated with the process and changes taking place; however, I was also drawn into the variety of packaging that was used to deliver our new materials and products. I was pleasantly relieved that quite a lot of it was in cardboard boxes with stiff brown paper used to pack the voids or wrapped in corrugated cardboard. However, it was also very noticeable to find some of the items were wrapped in plastic, bubble wrap and expanded polystyrene – so where will this end up? There seemed to be a lot for one small domestic job, what about the bigger builds and huge commercial undertakings – where is the destination of all the ‘rubbish’? Do we need to check if the supply chain of our product packaging is monitored? Whose responsibility is it - the manufacturer, supplier, builder or consumer?

When I created these photographic sculptural ‘still lives’, I wanted to immortalise the waste and the packaging used. It made me question if ‘scientists’ are creating alternative options with revolutionary materials to replace todays commonly used packaging? Some alternative materials are being slowly introduced such as compostable and biodegradable wrappings. Fell a tree, plant a tree, recycle, upcycle, will these cardboard, plastic and synthetic materials ever be replaced, if so, with what? Will the very distant future of mankind look at these items and be horrified with the leftovers of their ancestors?

Clair Robins 2022

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