Artists Highlighting Sustainability Through Art

This World Environment Day, meet ten Bluethumb artists highlighting sustainability through their art. Using eco-conscious materials or raising awareness for environmental protection through their subjects, these artists transform waste into masterpieces. Plus, shop their art in this week’s curation, Art for the Eco-Friendly.

Alanah Jarvis

As an Ex-Scuba Instructor, Alanah Jarvis saw firsthand the devastating effects plastic pollution is having on our once pristine marine ecosystems. After starting her artistic journey in 2017, Alanah realised that sustainable art supplies were scarce in the market. So, in 2023, she founded Sustainable Canvas, Australia’s first canvas made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Alanah Jarvis’ collectors can enjoy her art while knowing they’re making a positive impact on the environment.

“The plastic used in Sustainable Canvas (PET) is estimated to take around 450 years to break down,” she explains, “therefore, I prefer creating art on this surface knowing it’s potentially saving animal lives and protecting their habitats.”

 In my Element by Alanah Jarvis painted on Sustainable Canvas.

“Using Sustainable Canvas makes me feel like I’m having a direct positive impact on the world and combating plastic pollution.” Alanah’s aim is to continue to inspire a new era of sustainable artistry where creativity and environmental responsibility intersect harmoniously.

Cat Leonard

This Adelaide-based expressionist painter and instructor is inspiring a new generation of artists with her commitment to sustainability. Cat Leonard incorporates recycling into her practice by repurposing old frames and salvaged timber from hardware stores. She also limits the size of her work to reduce the amount of paint needed.

Sustainable Artist Cat Leonard

Cat Leonard shares her mastery of fluid brushstrokes at the Burnside Art Group.

By giving new life to items that would otherwise be considered trash, Cat’s upcycling process saves resources and reduces the environmental impact of producing new art supplies. Through her guidance, Cat is fostering a community of environmentally conscious artists who are learning to see the potential in everyday materials and transforming them into captivating works of art.

Cat Leonard Art

Mini portrait no 5. by Cat Leonard.

Cold Ghost

Sustainability is at the heart of Cold Ghost’s creative practice. The mixed media artist from NSW’s Central Coast uses recycled posters and other paper materials collected from the streets of Sydney and Melbourne. “I prefer up-cycling existing materials,” Brendan says. “I hate waste.”

Sustainable Artist Cold Ghost

Sustainability-focused artist Cold Ghost is hard at work in his studio. Discover his original wall art today!

His pop art collages are a rich blend of mixed media, with the final piece exuding a rustic charm. The transformation of temporary street posters into lasting interior wall art holds a certain poetic charm that few can resist.

Street Pop Eight by sustainable artist Cold Ghost

Street Pop Eight by Cold Ghost.

Giving objects a new lease on life isn’t a new concept for Cold Ghost. “Before becoming a full-time artist, I had a successful business selling recycled furniture and vintage clothing for 15 years.” Brendan’s dedication to sustainability is evident in every piece he creates, making his art both visually striking and environmentally conscious.

Deirdre Boeyen-Carmichael

Deirdre Boeyen-Carmichael, a full-time artist residing in Bells Beach, Victoria, draws immense inspiration from the biodiverse landscape that envelops her. Surrounded by endless ocean views and teeming coastal ecosystems, she finds herself deeply connected to the natural world. This profound appreciation for her surroundings fuels her advocacy for clean shores and eco-conscious living.

Deirdre Boeyen-Carmichael advocating for a cleaner future on the beautiful shores of Bells Beach.

Through her art, Deirdre highlights the dangers of single-use plastics and society’s growing preference for convenience. Using traditional techniques, she paints still life compositions of trash, such as plastic straws, takeaway coffee cups, empty blister packs, and water bottles.

Deirdre Boeyen Carmichael_Objects of the Anthropocene II

Objects of the Anthropocene II by Deirdre Boeyen Carmichael.

This juxtaposition of classical technique and disheartening subject matter serves as a powerful social statement: what appears appealing at a glance harbours a deeper, destructive impact.

Elise Judd

Elise Judd, a mixed-media artist based in Melbourne, Victoria, finds beauty and utility in recycled materials. This sustainable mindset extends to all aspects of her life, including her studio, which is built from reclaimed windows and recycled iron.

Sustainable artist Elise Judd

Elise Judd’s home studio, crafted from recycled and repurposed materials, is a masterpiece in its own right.

Elise upcycles paper and fabric materials, helping to keep waste out of landfills and minimize the carbon footprint associated with producing new art supplies. Her resourcefulness creates a unique quality in her work and reduces the need for new materials.

Want to Play by Elise Judd.

Elise’s latest series, Bathing Girl, was inspired by old photos, either taken by her family or found in charity shops. These portraits have a vintage feel, achieved through the inclusion of discarded items such as antique maps, postcards, and flyers.

Jessica Guthrie

Jessica Guthrie is a Sydney-based artist who recently won the 2023 Bluethumb Art Prize Still Life Category with her artwork Plants Taste Better. The prize-winning artwork is rich in symbolism, encouraging viewers to reflect on their role in urgent environmental issues and their global impact.

Shop Jessica Guthrie’s portfolio of original art online.

Plants Taste Better goes beyond mere visual appeal, serving as poignant commentary on urgent environmental issues. Through her work, Jessica encourages viewers to reflect on their individual and collective impact on the planet. The piece prompts a deeper understanding of the environmental challenges we face, from climate change to biodiversity loss, and calls for a renewed commitment to sustainable practices.

Plants Taste Better by Jessica Guthrie.

By integrating powerful messages into her art, Jessica Guthrie not only captures the beauty of the natural world but also inspires a sense of responsibility and action towards preserving it.

Jennifer Bell

Through her work, contemporary artist Jennifer Bell highlights the aesthetic value of repurposed waste. Using recycled cardboard and acrylic paint, Jennifer pushes the boundaries of paper as a medium by cutting, tearing, moulding, and assembling the material.

Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell’s unique artistic vision is inspired by her rare neuro-ophthalmological condition. Click here to read more about her story.

Her use of repurposed shipping byproducts demonstrates her commitment to sustainability, transforming discarded materials into intricate and vibrant pieces of art. Each creation not only showcases her artistic skill but also underscores the importance of rethinking waste.

Art by sustainable artist Jennifer Bell

Coral Forms Paper Play by Jennifer Bell.

Her artwork, Coral Forms Paper Play, challenges traditional notions of art, presenting a new way of seeing and thinking about working with paper. It serves as a powerful reminder of the possibilities that exist when we choose to see beauty in the unexpected.

Logan Moody

Stencil artist Logan Moody is not just creating art; he’s sparking conversations. Roaming the streets of Melbourne for inspiration, Logan’s popular Crush series delves into themes of consumerism, waste, and nostalgia. The series includes crumpled iconic Australian beer cans and popular soft drinks.  

“I enjoy finding beauty in discarded objects, and I hope that it makes people think differently about their place in the cycle of consumption,” he says.

By depicting these everyday objects in a state of disarray, he confronts the viewer with the reality of the waste produced by consumerist culture. Logan prompts viewers to reflect on their consumption habits and individual impact on the environment.

Logan takes his practice one step further in a conscious effort to minimize environmental impact. As part of this series, he stencilled lolly wrappers on Dodgy Paper, an Australian company specialising in handmade artist paper made from recycled materials.

Sam Patterson-Smith

Sam Paterson-Smith is fighting the war on plastic pollution by making sculptures from small plastic toys. The Sydney-based school teacher hopes to inspire positive social change and discourage people from purchasing and improperly disposing of plastic. Otherwise, he fears future generations will face more trash under their feet than solid ground. 

Bluethumb_Sam Patterson-Smith_Anti-Warhol (The Soups Gone Bad) Detail Pic 1_2023_Sculpture_54cm (W) x 68cm (H) x 8cm (D)__A$2,000

Anti-Warhole (The Soups Gone Bad) sculpture by Sam Patterson-Smith.

“This sculpture is made from hundreds of rubber toys; some donated, but the bulk were lost and forgotten by children or thrown away, found on beaches, in waterways and forests,” Sam explains. “They are out there by the millions, and that’s not the type of relic I would like to leave behind.”

Sustainable artist sam patterson-smith

Sam Patterson-Smith pictured in his Sydney-based studio. Photo by Jess Macc.

When looking at his Anti-Warhole sculpture, Sam feels overwhelmed with frustration. He grapples to understand how our society continues to create plastic landfills. “As cute as these little things are, they’re harmful,” he says.

Sherry McCourt

Sherry McCourt is a mixed-media artist who paints with oils on vintage maps and books that she finds at garage sales and op shops. Her sustainable practice involves repurposing these discarded items, giving them a new lease on life as unique canvases.

Sherry scored these 1960s romance novels from a garage sale!

Sherry takes inspiration from each map’s location, shapes, and colours, allowing the cartographer’s work to inform the stories and figures she paints. This approach not only highlights the intrinsic beauty of the maps but also creates a meaningful connection between the original purpose of the materials and her artistic vision. Through her work, Sherry emphasizes the importance of sustainability while creating visually compelling and thought-provoking art.

Sherry McCourt artist

Melbourne’s Best Fishing by Sherry McCourt.

In collaboration with Bluethumb, Winning Magazine featured several sustainable artists in their recent issue. Read the full story online.

Plus, Courtney Adamo joined us on this week’s podcast episode to chat about Instagram fame, renovation, motherhood, and, of course, art! Known for her captivating lifestyle content and a keen eye for interior design, Courtney shared insights into the art that adorns her beautiful Bangalow home.


Brushstrokes of Tradition: Indigenous Art Exhibition at 1 Denison

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