anthea ibell - remix plastics

Anthea Ibell, Christchurch

Anthea Ibell has worked in sustainability for 6 years and with her business, Remix Plastic, she creates wearable art from local plastic waste diverted from landfill. Inspired by native fauna and flora, her designs are embedded with the concepts of kaitiakitanga and circular economy. Each piece carries a sustainability story and makes them a tangible way to engage people in sustainability. 

Her accessories in this exhibition explore ideas of growth: literal, personal and societal. Anthea challenges us to explore larger environmental issues with these small pieces.

How has your art/process/aesthetic grown over time?

I have been working with recycled plastic for 6 years now and the experience and understanding of the material has changed DRASTICALLY! Anyone that has attempted plastic recycling will know that every type of plastic is different and even each BATCH of the same type of plastic can melt differently. This means constantly adapting and tweaking things. Also, I think that my designs have settled into a style that is a blend of New Zealand fauna and flora inspired as well as novelty designs of creatures I love (like dinosaurs and squid!).

What positive change do you hope you evoke in viewers of your art?

I try to create designs that people will have a connection with, beyond liking the look - this is generally New Zealand fauna and flora and it is always lovely hearing people's reasons for purchasing; from family connections to Huia birds to celebrating surviving breast cancer. I believe that my creations then provide a tangible representation of these things that are important to people. Also, being made from waste diverted from landfill, I hope that my products inspire people to think about their behaviours and make sustainable changes in their lives where they can - beyond just wearing the sustainable accessories. I encourage people to use their recycled plastic pieces to talk to other people about environmental issues.

What is your favourite thing to grow? Anything you can’t grow?

I am very fond of low maintenance plants like cactuses and easy house plants. It is very much survival of the fittest in my garden!

Is there anything from your childhood that’s had spurred growth and develop into your artwork? 

Growing up my passions were photography and graphic design - both of these have been very useful throughout my life and I think the skills I learned in problem solving and composition have helped a lot with my designs now. The other big inspirations were the people; my design teacher at high school, my older brother (an artist), my favourite underwater photographers and many more!

Favourite plant?

How could I choose!? It does change a lot, at the moment it is Poroporo. Come Spring it will probably be Kowhai again :D