Recycled treasures at Wollongong gallery

Where one man sees trash, Malcolm Benham sees treasure.

The New Zealand-born artist has made a life and career out of recycling old materials, breathing a whisper of creativity into discarded scraps, and extracting a piece of art from the detritus of human life.

His 34-year career has been boiled down to one wide-ranging retrospective collection, which has its official unveiling on Friday night at Wollongong City Gallery.

"Early on, I decided that using cheap material lets me take chances, because it didn't matter if I made mistakes," he said.

"I use things people wouldn't even think of."

Rusting shells of aged cars, sun-bleached cardboard and newspaper, surplus paints, broken bricks, boot polish - these are the tools of the trade for Mr Benham, with the three decades of his work dotting the walls of the gallery.

Picture frames adorned with building materials and salvaged masonry, collages of torn posters and street maps, and sculptures made from old metal make up large parts of the collection.

He said this mix and match, sometimes almost random method of creating his work can lead to some less than optimal results - but when something sticks, the trial-and-error approach pays dividends.

Scrap Culture opens on Friday, but Mr Benham will give a talk at the gallery today at 11am. Call 4227 8500 for more information.

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