Plastic bottle waste from one Purbeck home pops up as tree

A year’s worth of plastic bottles from just one household has been used to create a sculpture for Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) to highlight just how big the plastic waste problem is.

Artist Robert J Marshall from Wareham, saved all the plastic bottles that were used by his family, and in a year he collected 700 bottles that he has now shaped into a tree.

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Water bottle Tree by Robert Marshall for PAW 2024

Artist Robert J Marshall with the Water Bottle Tree at Durlston Country Park

Locations are revealed on social media

The sculpture for PAW, which runs from Saturday 25th May to Sunday 9th June 2024, has already popped up at Spyway near Langton Matravers and Durlston Country Park in Swanage.

It is expected to pop up at two more, yet to be revealed inland locations in Purbeck, before heading to the beach by the end of the PAW fortnight. Clues to the next locations are being revealed on Robert’s Facebook page.

Water bottle tree preparation
Robert J Marshall

All Robert’s water bottles before he started creating his tree

Water bottle tree preparation
Robert J Marshall

Melting the plastic to create the branches and leaves

“Action is required on a large scale”

Robert, who works at The Grand Hotel in Swanage, when he isn’t creating art, said:

“Even though I never buy plastic drink bottles, in my household with kids and their girlfriends, we have accumulated 700 bottles in a year.

“This just goes to show that even someone who’s environmentally conscientious like me, finds it difficult to control plastic waste even in their own home!

“The problem needs companies who produce and use the bottles to take more responsibility for finding a solution, as more action is required on a large scale and can not just be left to individual effort.

“Here in this field at Durlston just imagine what it would look like with plastic bottle trees from a million households!

Water bottle Tree by Robert Marshall for PAW 2024

The tree popped up at Durlston Country Park on Thursday 30th May 2024 for one day only

Water bottle Tree by Robert Marshall for PAW 2024

Dramatic shapes against a blue sky

Precious commodity

Robert is calling the sculpture the Water Bottle Tree, as the message isn’t just about plastic bottles but also about water being a precious commodity.

He says that sometimes it’s the negative messages on social media about polluted water that drive young people to buy bottled water, when there’s only very rare instances when our water can’t be drunk straight from the tap.

This can also mean that a Coca Cola or energy bottled drink may sometimes seem a better option when in reality fizzy drinks contain sugar and additives.

Water bottle tree at Spyway
Robert J Marshall

The first location of the 24 foot tree at the start of PAW weeks was Spyway near Langton Matravers

Water bottle Tree by Robert Marshall for PAW 2024

Gloomy outlook for plastic bottles

“Much bigger, complicated picture”

Robert added:

“I know that plastic bottles can be recycled but usually it’s only 70 percent of the bottle that gets recycled and sometimes it’s as low as 30 percent.

“We can’t get rid of plastic once it’s produced as it’s non degradable and most ends up in landfill. However it is such an amazing material – we really need industry to find a better material to replace it, rather than just pretending that using plastic is ok.

“In a previous sculpture I used a plastic door that I saved from a tip. Plastic doors are just so much more robust than wood – we just need to face the reality, so we can start fixing things.

“It’s a much bigger, complicated picture and unless the big drinks manufacturers take collective action, very little will change. I hope the Water Bottle Tree will highlight that message.”

Rollington Barn for Purbeck Art Weeks

Rollington Barn near Corfe Castle displays work from artists across Purbeck

Rollington Barn for Purbeck Art Weeks

Inside the barn there’s plenty of stunning artwork

Artwork by school children and young people is exhibited in the Byrne at Rollington

Musical concerts, talks, workshops and lots of art

Other events during Purbeck Art Weeks include musical concerts, talks and workshops, as well as artists from across the region opening their studio doors to the public, offering a glimpse into their creative process and an opportunity to buy original artwork.

Visitors can start their journey at Rollington Barn, near Corfe Castle, where PAW’s collective exhibition showcases work including painting, textiles, metalwork, glass art, woodworking, jewellery and ceramics.

The Byre at Rollington is devoted to lots of colourful artwork from local schools and young artists.

Sandy Hill Arts at Corfe Castle, a hub of artist studios, also has lots going on for PAW and Dorset Art Weeks as well.

Glass artist Jenny Green at Sandy Hill Arts has opened her studio to the public

At Rollington Barn, Swanage artist Dee Barron exhibits her sparkly sea creatures for the first time at PAW (back wall)

Artist Alison Shelton Brown for Purbeck Art Weeks

Unusual and creative, artist Alison Shelton Brown invites everyone to pop into her studio at Sandy Hill Arts

“Incredible talent of local artists”

Laurel Hart from PAW said:

“There truly is something for everyone to enjoy at this year’s PAW Festival. Whether you’re an art lover or simply looking for a delightful escape into the world of creativity and music, we invite you to join us in celebrating the rich diversity of artistic expression that defines Purbeck.

“We’re delighted to be featuring the incredible talent of local artists as well as attracting world class musicians to play against Purbeck’s stunning backdrop.

“We’re excited to have some surprises too – keep an eye out for a remarkable 24 foot Water Bottle Tree, created by Purbeck-based sculptor Robert Marshall, popping up at secret locations across Purbeck!”

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