Bringing 'useless' items to life

SINGAPORE - It is a material you can find anywhere, but has probably been discarded because it does not seem to be useful.

But in the hands of cardboard sculptor Bartholomew Ting, 34, pieces of cardboard become F1 cars, dinosaurs and robots. His creations have dazzled people who have been surprised by how strong cardboard can be.

Mr Ting, creative director at Tri-Wall CreativeS, has constructed more than 20 cardboard creations since he became a full-time cardboard sculptor in 2011.

A 2.3m cardboard robot inspired by an F1 car will be on display at The Float @ Marina Bay during the Maritime RobotX Challenge, where Mr Ting will be conducting Tinkering Workshops from Friday to Sunday.

The Maritime RobotX Challenge is the first of a biennial event that includes an international university maritime robotics competition, and a science and technology showcase.

The event, which is organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering, the Science Centre Singapore and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation, hopes to attract 5,000 visitors.

Participants in Mr Ting's workshop will make sculptures with cardboard building blocks, also known as Blokies, that can be interlocked to form larger creations.

Mr Ting's interest in using recycled materials to create sculptures began in 1998, after he joined the Rag and Flag team while studying in NUS. Students used recycled materials to build a float.

Before becoming a full-time cardboard sculptor in 2011, Mr Ting was a designer in the exhibition industry.

He said: "There is so much potential in cardboard, but there is the misconception that it is a weak material.

"I decided to encompass all the knowledge that I have, such as using 3D software to design and using cardboard as a building material."

Filipino scrap metal artist Ram Mallari, 48, will also be conducting Tinkering Workshops.

Mr Mallari grew up in Quezon City, in Metro Manila, where rubbish and scrap material was strewn everywhere.

He wanted to raise awareness about recycling to help the environment, so he started making things out of the materials.

Art form

He remembers creating a toy car out of a sardine can and rubber slippers when he was 10.

"It gives me a sense of fulfilment when I see garbage coming to life again in the form of art," he said.

His most memorable art piece to date is a 3.1m sculpture called The Last Tree, which he spent about three months to build last year.

Mr Mallari used metal pieces from xerox machines, automotive parts, printers and old computers.

To him, it conveys a message about humanity's relationship with nature.

Participants at his workshop will use materials such as aluminium cans, plastic bottles and plastic containers to make functional items like clocks and lamps.

He said: "We will teach participants how to be more resourceful, creative and intelligent (with recycled materials)."

This article was first published on October 22, 2014.
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