Dom Burch - October Artist Window Takeover

Dom Burch - October Artist Window Takeover

Words by Dom...

I have struggled with Bipolar Disorder and social anxiety for most of my life. Going outside was a real struggle and talking to strangers was nearly impossible. I found walking on the beach was calming and would let my mind rest. While walking on the beach, I used to find the odd bit of rubbish which I would collect as I walked, and more and more rubbish would appear along the tide line. I started to realise there was so much plastic mixed within the beach and I could make a difference by collecting it and disposing of it. I found I could get outside more when cleaning the beach and decided to do it as often as possible. 

Whilst cleaning I would find interesting shapes and coloured pieces of plastics and wanted to do something with them rather than throwing them in the bin and sending them off to landfill. That’s when I had the idea to create artwork from the plastic waste I was finding. I wanted to take something ugly and discarded and turn it in to something beautiful. The more I cleaned the beaches and even the local streets, the more people would come up and ask what I was doing or thank me for doing it. This helped massively with my anxiety. Just one person saying, ‘good morning’, ‘thank you’, or even a smile was enough to make me feel calmer about being outside. Once I started making artwork from the rubbish, I started to talk to people about it on my beach-cleans, this made it easier for me to deal with the anxiety and gave me confidence. I’d like to thank anyone who spoke to me, however briefly, when I was cleaning as it helped me so much. 

Then Luna came into our lives. A little whippet with a big heart who just loved running on the beach and helping find rubbish (mostly to eat). She has helped me so much with getting outside more and talking to people (about her awesomeness). You may recognise her as the whippet with the colourful coats.

Once I had made some artwork, I needed somewhere to display it. With encouragement from my lovely wife Amy, I started looking for somewhere and that’s where Neighbourhood Store came in. Emma and Gary have supported me so much over the last few years and have given me so much faith in my abilities, without them I would never be showing people my artwork. With their help I have made commissioned pet portraits, helter-skelters, and even sold a piece to Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim!

Two years of beach cleaning later and I was diagnosed with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and found going out and cleaning much harder, so I looked for other ways to remove waste from going to landfill. The charity shop SOLD has been donating plastics that they can’t sell and would usually go to landfill for me to use in my artwork. I also visit The Scrap Space which is an amazing place where I have found so many plastics which have been saved from landfill.

I want people to look at my art and see the problem of plastic waste, how much we are consuming and wasting, but also see that we can all make a difference no matter how small. Reusing something rather than throwing it out or making something new from something old. 

Kindness to our planet and each other is at the heart of my work and if just one person stops some rubbish from going to landfill because of my artwork then I’ll see that as a win.

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