This is Ms Poubelle Provocateur, the erotic disgrace of the human race. The glamour Goddess of Landfill. A psychedelic fragment of my alter ego. Sauntering, sexy, inviting, sassy, trashy, eternal ethereal pin-up, made of abandoned pieces and elements. She is my one woman waste protest, unified with the essence of rubbish, displaying the nightmare we create on lovely planet earth every day.
I’ve had a fascination with landfill for the last three years, spawning from guilt, neurosis and blind sanity. I am the adamant polystyrene aggravator, the one who demands my chips are wrapped in paper at the take away. I make a point of it.
I have considered that I may have a mild case of motherly Objectophilia (symptoms of an only child with too much imagination) as my landfill theatrics started when I came across a bin bag of teddies and toys in a charity shop bin. I felt a heart of pity for them. Thrown out, unwanted, most of them made for a child who will never remember them. On their way to the dump.
So casually does the human race suck up resources to make junk with no love; buyers buy blindly then get quickly bored of, break and then throw away — cheap to buy easy to waste.
Like this fella (left). He makes an “Ow!”, “Ooh yeah!”, “That feels good!” sound effect every time you stick a stick of some kind into his behind. I found him in his box. He is not a pencil sharpener, and has no practical purpose other than the noises he makes. I keep him as part of the team to remind myself what I’m up against. How is such a valuable earth reserve turned into this? (Dear Plastic, this question I often ask.) With endless other practical possibilities available, how are manufactures able to get away with it?
He could have been prosthetics, tupperware, hospital equipment, etc. But I keep him with batteries, to make sure he can live his full glory!
I needed to make a stand, to stop mankind’s stupid use of resources. Poubelle started life in 2010 as Old Lady Landfill.
The costume was always a joy to produce, trailing through bins all night, collecting landfill, with actual purpose! Then going home to sew it together. But her character was always on unsure grounds due to my shyness. Starting as a cross old women — initially the dying earth, green-faced, sad, stressed and frowning character, not the most receptive festival walkabout person. She dragged an open suitcase of rubbish through the mud behind her, occasionally collapsing to the ground in confused fury.
A year later, Lady Landfill upgraded. With a friend we became the angry, ragged scraggily queens of theatrical waste management, running about Boom Town Fair Festival.
But even as just Lizzy, on that festival weekend of 2011, I was fully possessed by the concept of landfill. An early morning protest found me decorating the dance area by laying out squashed beverage cans in swirly patterns, whilst shouting at passing revellers about social revolution — “think about what you use and throw away, no government will save us now!”
I felt like Che Guevara of rubbish
At this point I had just moved to the Welsh-speaking capital of planet earth, Caernarfon. I got a real vendetta against supermarkets, boycotting them (and made a facebook group ‘Supermarkets Are Weird’ to tell everyone) and bin diving became a massive part of my main food source.
Like an urban hunter-gatherer, me and GwthioNain (my granny trolley-pusher) would hitchhike around Gwynedd to different corporate bins to get my groceries. ‘Making a living’ I called it, I deemed my protest self-employment. Luckily the only vehicle I had was my thumb, my feet and GwthioNain, or I would have eventually buried the kitchen in rotten food. Being from Brighton, originally, where any decent dinner skip load was fought over between hundreds of other eco-freaks, I had the monopoly in North Wales, and I exploited it.
The bin diving started to filter out when I realised it wasn’t the way to bring supermarkets down, their being entangled with higher powers? Councils? Governments? Like miniature countries that invade towns, suck up the work force into polyester, filed away behind checkouts, paid minimum wage — to sustain life but not to live — while any local industry dies on its feet.
Supermarkets continued their tyranny on the nation while my health and mind deteriorated on moulding potatoes and bread. I had an epiphany that buying local is the only way to sort this mess out, along with the issue the national media calls “recession”.
If you want to fix the economy, then keep community wealth flowing within neighbourhood industries. It comes hand in hand with less packaging, diversity and more career choices.
Older and wiser, two years on, I buy local and have finally collected enough rubbish for Ms Poubelle Provocateur’s costume to be basically complete, experienced, in sober confidence, hitting ethics with sex appeal — the only way to give a message in this day and age.
Poubelle takes pleasure from landfill; excited by it — looking towards the possibility that humanity will one day (have to) harness the power created in landfill sites. Grace is the only way to deal with the madness of humanity — like Poubelle Provocateur I adore, respect and care for my objects, remembering the journey they took before arriving to me.
Miss Poubelle Provocateur photos by Marris Harris. All other Photos by Betty Hawthorn.