The art of waste

Sculptor James McNabb has created a series of wood sculptures exploring the idea that there should be no such thing as waste

It’s a question that will only become more relevant as resources become scarcer with time: How can we make better use of what we have? One way is to foster the idea that there is no such thing as waste – that all materials represent new opportunities, no matter where they come in our chains of use.

Sculptor James McNabb is one creative mind who is taking this theme and running with it. He is behind The City series of wood sculptures, which he made from his studio in Pennsylvania, US. He was in the middle of a complicated project when, one day, he began absentmindedly making cuts in small pieces of scrap wood with his band saw. Gradually, he made more and more shapes and by the next morning, he had a pile of 200 artfully ‘saw-sketched’ buildings – the beginnings of The City.

“For about ten years, I have had a storage bin next to my bench and I toss small pieces of scrap into them as they are generated,” James said. “I enjoy the idea of making new work from the by-product of other work. I even saved the small scraps from making my scrap wood cities and plan to make something else from them.

“This is my way of making something out of nothing.”