Julienne Dolphin Wilding
I’ve always used waste materials to make my art. As a design student, I thought it was silly to use expensive materials to make sketch models when I could get them for free, so that dictated my career. Later on, I discovered there was a massive eco-movement, which is now called sustainability.
The material always comes first and then I think what can I do with it. Recycling is pretty much taken care of, so I tend to use factory waste these days. I went through a phase of collecting wood here then I realised that anything that’s thrown out is riddled with woodworm.
I am obsessed with nature and creatures. My friends call me ‘Darwin Wilding’ because whenever we go for walks in the countryside, I’m that person that spots mad things on tree trunks.
I have a long relationship with Barcelona. I’ve been back for three years, but I lived here 10 years ago for six years part-time. I work as a tutor at the Istituto Europeo di Design for six months and the other half of the year I spend in London, travelling or at my home in Crete.
Barcelona is definitely not a green city. It’s got a very good tonnage of recycled stuff, compared to, say, the UK, and they have fantastic fairs where you can bring toys for the kids and clothing. There’s lots of talk. But you judge a green city by the quality of the air, and in that respect, I would say Barcelona is probably more brown.
I’m currently working as a volunteer for Feedback Madagascar, a social and environmental charity. I’m hoping that in my role as artist, I can help artists and designers there to develop new tourism products using its unique biodiversity.
I went to an eco-forum and one of the speakers said, “Hands up anybody who hasn’t bought anything from Ikea.” Nobody raised their hand. I’ve got nothing against good design but a lot of the stuff produced by the multinationals has a very short shelf-life. However, they do allow people on normal incomes to furnish their homes, so I don’t know what the answer is.
I sell at galleries and exhibitions but I basically get commissions to do specific things. If you want to buy something from me, I charge a fortune because it takes me a very long time to do it. I am not going to give something away for €59.
The idea of the working artist in Barcelona is a bit of a myth. I have been up the public art route three times and every single time it’s been fabulous to have my ideas accepted but the funding issue is mind-boggling. They are ridiculously over-cautious with money and trust, so I’m not doing it anymore.
I like to trick people with my art. I’m most proud of Core Sample, Matrix Revealed, a huge sculpture based on a core sample of Suffolk as it would appear as it was drawn out of the ground. People love it. I also made a quartz crystal floodwall in a volcanic part of Scotland. Everyone said: “Where did you get all that quartz crystal from?” and I said “There’s tons of it around here, actually.”
A lot of my work says,“Hey, before you trash the place, have a closer look.” What we are on is a very fragile piece of the universe. We take it for granted and it’s just not right.
I live a green lifestyle. I fly a lot but I have an olive grove in Crete with enough trees to absorb my CFCs, so there! I’m an absolute warrior when it comes to recycling; I actually rummage through friends’ bins and get very upset with them. I absolutely hate waste.