TALENTED Ennis artist Naomi Higgins has created a unique sculpture made out of old tyres for the annual Electric Picnic music festival in County Laois next weekend.
The 11ft x 9ft Gaia’s Messenger weighs almost a tonne and has a wingspan of 15.5ft. It was made from 97 old inner tyre tubes on a base of salvaged steel and wire mesh. Naomi was commissioned by Bin Your Empties recycling company to submit a work made from recycled materials for the festival.
She explained that the title comes from the Wiccan belief that the Earth is an intelligent, conscious, living organism, named Gaia, after the Greek goddess, who they believed created the universe. Naomi said she considers it to be an angel, which motivates people to think and care about the Earth.
“The inspiration for the piece came from a news item regarding the burying of tyres and their subsequent damage to the environment. This led me to think about how the Earth could react to this pollution and Gaia’s Messenger emerged from the earth to warn of the consequences of man’s actions and insensitivity to her plight.
“The hardest part about the making of this piece was trying to figure out how I would actually put it together, the logistics. I had to learn to weld and figure out how to bend the metal. Without a workshop, I had to adapt and improvise. I bent all the metal by hand using wooden stakes to hold them steady. I worked in the rain and sun. I became very obsessive about the work. The shape is what I thought it would be but I never really knew what it would look like as a finished piece,” Naomi commented.
“I did not know how I was going to do the eyes or what to cover the wings with, when a chance meeting with my friend’s mother produced copper wire from a computer and the netting for the wings. It has all just come together.
“At every stage of the process, whatever I needed just seemed to magically appear. There were many people involved throughout the process and voluntarily gave their time, advice and support. They seemed to get as much out being involved in this project, as I did,” she added.
Naomi is hoping that her work of art will make a big impact at the Electric Picnic and will encourage people to dream themselves and make good use of recyclables without hurting the environment.
She feels very strongly about environmental issues, particularly about the damage that dumping and the dumping of tyres causes.
She is encouraging others to do what they can to reduce the amount of tyres that are being dumped. “It is possible to buy tyres which have been partially recycled from landfill tyres. Look after your tyres to get the most out of them. Check pressure regularly and have your wheels alligned once a year. This in turn reduces the amount going to landfill.
“When your have your tyres changed, ask where the old tyres are going. If possible, choose a dealer who is environmentally aware.With a little creativity, tyres can be used for many things. For instance, they make great obstacle courses for kids, hung from a tree, a swing, Cut in half, they can be used as borders in the garden and for flower beds. The inner tubes of big tyres make a very comfortable lounger and are still light enough for the kids to have fun with. It just means that people have to think a bit more,” she commented.