Michelle Reader has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Scenography. She is based in London and works from Barbican Arts Group Trust's studios in Walthamstow. Michelle has been working with recycled materials since 1997, making unique figurative recycled sculptures from household waste and found objects. Her sculptures sometimes have mechanical elements, using the working parts of old toys, clocks or other objects.
Michelle also create props and models for theatre, events and photo shoots, as well as bespoke awards made from recycled materials. She runs workshops in schools and at events, helping other people to make art from recycled materials.
My work spans the disciplines of sculpture, prop-making, installation and design for performance. I create recycled and mechanical sculptures, wearable art, and objects that interact with performers. My sculptures are usually figurative representations of people, animals or buildings.
I love the unpredictability of found materials and enjoy the inventiveness necessary to transform them into a sculpture. I like to make work that is interactive and inviting, tactile and colourful. The joy of working with found materials is the unexpected uses that can be found for them. For instance, an umbrella and a bucket combining to form the trumpet of a daffodil, two old oil cans forming the basis of a wind turbine, or the internal workings of an alarm clock becoming a mechanism for a propeller.
The choice of materials can also be a key part of the story of a piece. In 2008 I created a portrait of a family made from a month's worth of their own household waste. The materials not only highlight a need to address the amount of waste each of us produces, but also tells the story of each individual through the things they discard – a child’s drawings, a shopping list, a birthday card. I try wherever possible to use materials that are reclaimed, things with a history that have been discarded and might otherwise end up in landfill. My sculptures draw attention to environmental issues in an aesthetic, humorous and non-confrontational way.