A vibrant sea of colour welcomed me as I stepped into the entrance of Pembrokeshire College. The upcycling course (part of the Reach Project) had come to a close and I had popped in to see tutor (Debby Kimsey) and students and to see the fruits of their (very talented) labour.
A beautiful display of upcycled products lit up the atrium. So many caught my eye, I didn’t know where to focus first; driftwood sailing boats donned with pretty canvas sails, woolly broaches on contemporary patterned cards, snood style scarves made from cleverly entwined T-shirt rings, chocolate brownie mix in giant jam-jars.
The list was endless, the ideas genius and the quality superb.
I must admit I find the subject of upcycling a difficult one nowadays. When someone mentions they have transformed what was once waste into something new, my gut tenses and my brains tells me to carefully consider my response. Has this person collected old magazines and papier mached them around an umbrella frame to ‘funk it up’ (resulting in something a bit like a chocolate teapot) OR have they designed a space saving storage unit from pallet wood, created an attractive work of art from marine waste, built a wall garden using plastic bottles as planters, fashioned a new garment out of an unwanted one?
In this instance, I’m happy to say that if my gut felt anything, it was little flutters of excitement as I continued to ooh and ah at what the girls had so cleverly produced.
Bespoke driftwood mirrors and art accompanied the sailing boats on a wall display. Quirky wired button hearts and hand painted ceramic mobiles hung from a bare tree branch. And the table was literally overflowing with those mentioned already, plus hand painted ceramic buttons, jute covered bottles and ‘T-shirt rose bud’ positive message picture frames.
The ladies manning the stand were overwhelmed with the feedback they received. I watched the smiles and laughter as customers browsed and little frowns of dismay as the girls explained that certain items had already sold. It was evident that this interpretation of upcycling had obviously hit the nail on the head in terms of customer demand.
Students on this course enjoyed adult learning as part of the Reach project. The project is aimed at those with mental and physical health issues, unemployed and over 55’s and is designed to deliver courses to motivate, increase wellbeing, confidence and skillset for enjoyment or to help find employment. It was clear to see the positive effect of this particular project, just in the time I spent with Debby and her team.
More great news is that the ladies chose to donate all profits from sales to Help For Heroes and a total of £230 will soon be presented to the charity.
Nice work ladies, I look forward to seeing what else unravels (pardon the pun).
To keep in touch with Reach and their work on adult learning, follow their Facebook page.
View the full set of photos below.