Trash turns to art in Dahab Festival

Trash to Art workshop in Dahab, Sinai, Egypt
Visitors to the Dahab Festival took part in a workshop run by local resident Anja Makulik who spends her days making art out of trash thrown around the desert [Originally published in Ahram Online]

At the kick start of the Dahab Festival, 14-20 April, which incorporates watersports, healthy living, art and culture into six days of events, a workshop took place on turning some of the massive amounts of rubbish strewn around the city into art works.

Almost 47,000 tons of waste is produced nationwide in Egypt per day, and about 60-70 million tons per year. The amount of waste material, not all of which is recycled, left workshop leader Anja Makulik wondering: What can we make with it?

Makulik invited a group of around 10 people, adults and children, and shared with them her ideas on how to turn trash into art, leaving them with the same question that had puzzled her.

The two-hour workshop on Saturday included a short forray into desert behind the festival tent, looking for trash. “I don’t normally look for trash in this part of town, but there is always trash lying around,” Makulik told participants playfully.

Together, people picked up random objects: old plastic bottles, bicycle tires, plastic shisha hoses, cans, glass bottles, pieces of wood and more. Everyone then went back to the main tent and started making art out of what they found. Children made toys, some adults made vases and frames.

“It was very inspiring to understand all the different ways of using trash,” Camilla Wetzel, a Danish workshop participant, told Ahram Online.

Makulik originally came to Dahab in 2005 to work as a diving instructor. About two years ago she started focusing on her trash-to-art project and began making art mostly with cans.

“I was finding trash on the street everywhere,” Makulik said. “Since I had studied design and was able to work with different kinds of materials, and paint, I started doing this as a hobby.”

It was not until later, when people started admiring her art and advising her to display it, as well as sell it, that she took her hobby more seroiously.

When asked about whether the original idea to make art from rubbish was about being sustainable, Makulik explained that it was not necessarily the reason. “When I first moved to Dahab I was complaining about it a lot, but then I started looking at it in a different way,” she said.


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