Making recyclable art purposeful

Marc Urdang and a RECON creation made from bicycle parts.

Tamboerksloof resident Mark Urdang repurposes old typewriters, motorbike parts and other unused items to create art that is not only interesting to look at but that has a function too.

The handyman and self-styled recycling artist says he became active during the lockdown and most of his repurposed artworks can be seen at his Bo-Kaap studio, RECON.

“I purchase these goods. I find them at second-hand stores, scrapyards, farms and markets, nothing is for free. So my aim is to repurpose them; I clean it up, take it apart, put it together or add it to something else. I give them life so people can enjoy it for another 100 years” the 51-year old said.

Among the oldest items he has collected is a naval lantern used by a naval ship that he reckons was in use during the 1920s.

“We are running out of these old vintage things, so they not easy to find, and when I do find it I take it. There’s old heaters being transformed, water cans, a bicycle flap and a washing machine drum have been used in my art, most of these old items take time to clean and put together, the old stuff has lots of rust on it so it takes time to repurpose it” he said of the items.

A wildebeest skull skilfully decorated with typewriter parts.

A table that he made has motorbike parts in it and some of his work is being bought by international clients.

“This is a skull that I’ve painted and I added the parts of an old typewriter, I painted it and put it together. It took about a month to complete it and it’s quite popular. I’ve sold a few and there’s a request for another one. I had to take a typewriter apart, sprayed it bronze and reapplied it to this skull. It’s delicate work, small screws and little bits, so it takes time.”

Despite the fact that Mr Urdang lacks formal training in the arts, he says the urge to create comes naturally and he has been doing so for the past three decades.

“My mom had a flair for art and I followed, there’s no one else in our family doing this and I can’t explain how but it’s just a feeling, my imagination takes over. I really enjoy finding old stuff and making something. I enjoy it when someone shows one of my pieces on social media in their homes and that makes me happy.”

Can you spot the Tin Man and Pinocchio among these recycled artworks?