Michael Wild of May Wild Studio collaborates with Hopwood Hall students to creatively reimagine plastic 'waste'.

Friends of Material Source Studio, May Wild Studio is the creative practice of Rebecca May & Michael Wild.

Creating handmade artworks that communicate the raw materials of the natural and urban landscapes we live in, through combining traditional craft methods with manufacturing technologies, the artists and designers are fantastic advocates of sustainable practise.

As well as being a creative partner at May Wild Studio, Michael has also been a lecturer in Art and Sculpture for over twenty years. This year, he has worked with Hopwood Hall’s art students on a series of practical workshops based on the theme: Nature vs Man-made - the colourful results of which stopped us mid-scroll on Instagram. Keen to find out more, we caught up with Michael on the imaginative project...

Can you please give us an overview of your work with the Hopwood Hall level 3 students?

"This work was created from a series of 3D workshops I devised and delivered for Hopwood Hall art students who were exploring the theme of Nature vs Manmade for their final major project. This work explores the environmental impact food packaging has on our oceans and marine life, focusing on the statement: The amount of plastic in the ocean is expected to double in the next 15 years, and it’s estimated that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016)

"The students explored new methods of making using only food packaging collected over seven days, from these waste materials we repurposed the packaging into a series of moulds. For the final artwork we selected a range of vibrant colours inspired from our oceans intended to make us question the potential loss of this rich and diverse habitat unless reconsider and change our consumer habits in the future."

This project was inspired by a home co-lab with May Wild Studio co-founder Rebecca – tell us more

"Over the Covid period, we formed a remote collaboration with Manchester based designers Winter and Kurth using our homes as sites of Inspiration, Material Transformation, Manufacture and Connection. At a time of looking inwards, we were confronted with our truth, our excess. So, the Home-Co-Lab provided an important opportunity for us to reflect, re organise and respond critically and creatively to what comes in and what goes out of domestic households.

"Rebecca and I focused on the potential of using pre-existing moulds to develop design objects from plastic food packaging. A collection of hybrid moulds was developed to cast waste materials that we developed using household food from organic materials like coffee granules/egg shells to paper food packaging, experimenting with these materials to explore a unique colour palette."

How do you seek to develop this project further?

"After the lockdown, we promised ourselves we would revisit these new methodologies of making with the intention to develop new products or possibly further collaborative artworks similar to the work we produced with the students at Hopwood Hall."

Is this process something you see being adopted on a wider scale?

"As artists who are trained in traditional craft, sculpture and design skills this will challenge our normal working practices but that’s where exciting things can happen. Sustainable approaches are an opportunity for us to re-imagine, explore and create something new collectively and reinforce a ‘use what we have to hand’ approach to design."

What else is May Wild Studio working on currently?

"Currently, we divide our time equally between our arts/design education work including HE/FE & for organisations like Create Arts & The Hepworth Wakefield, and between our social arts practice commissions.

"Our current commissions include Rochdale Town Hall, for this commission we have worked with 10 Rochdale communities to co-create 3 artworks for the space including digital, installation & sculpture pieces. In September we commence two new local GM co-create commissions themed around people & place. We have also recently been commissioned by Sky Arts to create a short film for Leeds 2023 Year of Culture."