DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Art

Rust Bucket Workshop: Let’s change rubbish into an artisan delight

A mouse by Rust Bucket Workshop

Rust Bucket Workshop

Rust Bucket Workshop is a sculptor who works with found items. These can be found on the street, salvaged from scrap yards, discovered in boxes of unwanted miscellany at auction houses or from house clearances.

There is a power and a purpose in lost things. All they need is love – and rescuing from a potentially hellish future in landfill.

Just as artist My Dog Sighs, who curated this special edition of the magazine, built his Free Art Fridays around works produced with discarded street finds, so creative people across the world are using their talents to reuse, repurpose, recycle and revive lost and abandoned objects and materials. It’s good for the planet and good for the soul.

a rabbit by Rust Bucket Workshop

“I feel that I give life to forgotten, broken and unwanted objects,” says artist Rust Bucket Workshop, aka Hayley Walker. “I work intuitively. So most of it feels like playtime.

“I’m very much led by the object. I see these objects for their colour, texture and shape, but I gravitate to pieces that hold a certain amount of age, that already lived a life before they came to me.

“By assembling these lost pieces, past stories are combined to create new ones. I don’t disguise or excuse the parts that I use. I celebrate each knock or dent. It gives the pieces character. Somehow, they have a bit of heart.” 

Rust Bucket Workshop’s art injects new life into discarded objects, creates new stories from those no longer listened to, and offers important lessons. It also works to counteract the excesses of modern consumer society.

“Let’s change things from a piece of rubbish to an artisan delight. We’ve become this throwaway society,” she says.

A repurposed mallet by Rust Bucket Workshop
An old mallet was repurposed for this piece by artist Rust Bucket Workshop

“It is time to revisit our relationship with the broken and look at reusing, fixing or reimagining the lost and discarded. All these objects will outlive us all. It’s about seeing beauty in the humble object.

“I use old tools quite a lot. There is one with a mallet for a head and you can see where someone fixed it with staples, which reminded me of Frankenstein’s monster. And once upon a time it was made by a craftsperson, making an honest tool. The mallet shows signs of the processes of the build and its usage over the years. All the labour and the history.”

New stories created from old things. It’s a tale as old as time. And an important reminder, to really look, really listen, really think about the things we see all around us.

“When you are using a palate of discarded objects, it is all social history. All these lost things had a purpose. They were important. It is putting value back into them. This global scrapheap we are accumulating needs to be repurposed, reused, re-loved.”

Find out more about Rust Bucket Workshop here: rustbucketworkshop.co.uk

This article is part of an art special edition of The Big Issue, curated by My Dog Sighs and featuring his exclusive artwork on the cover. It is on the streets from 10 July. Find your local vendor here. Throughout the week we will be sharing more stories from creatives, explorers and activists who are reclaiming the lost. Read those stories here.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy!

If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Each brush tells a story of hope': Homeless artist hosts exhibition to help himself off the streets
homeless artist David Bedford
Homelessness

'Each brush tells a story of hope': Homeless artist hosts exhibition to help himself off the streets

Those wounded by the Troubles still walk among us. Their pain is as relevant today as ever
Art

Those wounded by the Troubles still walk among us. Their pain is as relevant today as ever

Artist Aasen Stephenson turns leaves into astounding works of art: 'Nothing beats what nature makes'
The Leaf Man at work in his studio
Art

Artist Aasen Stephenson turns leaves into astounding works of art: 'Nothing beats what nature makes'

Artist Ray Young: 'Our government is threatening disabled people's rights – there's no compassion'
Theatre

Artist Ray Young: 'Our government is threatening disabled people's rights – there's no compassion'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know