Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a fantastic place. Just a stone’s throw from Manchester city centre, it is a suburb that has a strong local culture; with independent shops, pubs and restaurants giving the area a unique charm. Beech Road has become particularly renowned for its quirky art galleries, curious shops and crafty pubs, which provide a marvellous setting for a potter and afternoon tipple.
It was number 40 which I found to be the most captivating space on Beech Road, housing the Creative Recycling gallery shop – dedicated to the display and sale of a wonderful array of furniture, sculptures, kitchenware and more; all fashioned from recycled materials. Scrap metal, old bottle tops, discarded glass and used textiles are just some of the materials that local artists and crafters repurpose into the work on display. This “upcycling” of what many may well view as junk is a beautiful way of recycling waste material; demonstrating an artistic alternative to landfills and incineration.
The sustainability driven approach to the work on display is echoed in the way that Creative Recycling fits into the local community. Profits from the sales goes straight to the artists themselves, with much of the balance reinvested into local schools and charities as well as into maintaining the gallery space. It’s certainly an inspiring space, with an admirable approach to sustainable business and simply ingenious work on display.
Creative Recycling certainly left me feeling inspired. I have a few times myself dabbled in repurposing old objects – I have a retired ukulele adorning a wall of my bedroom and a vintage loaf tin now holding trinkets on my desk. However, I have never achieved the blend of creativity and style that the artists of 40 Beech Road have with their work. Though I think I may have just the solution to this. In the garage of my parents’ house there is a set of brown leather suitcases that have been made redundant by the practical advantage of modern, plastic travel cases.
My brain has been whirring with ideas for upcycling these to create something with the ideal blend of practicality and style. The idea I have started to settle on would be to use the medium case of the set to create a wall mounted drinks cabinet with a cocktail mixing surface. With a mechanism to hold the suitcase rigid at a right angle once opened, a shelf or two within to store bottles of various sizes and a frame of fairy lights to add a little more visual fun to the whole thing; I believe I could create my own work of creative recycling to be proud of.