The creation of a butterfly mosaic from recycled medical waste. (Submitted photo - Western News)

Turning an Okanagan hospital’s medical waste into art

Safe recycled waste materials are being used by local artists to create art

Green-coloured resin flows as artists Renee Matheson, Mark Werklund and eager volunteers work to create beauty from recycled medical waste.

After months of planning and designing, work on placing medical caps, vials, tubes and other recycled items into a butterfly mosaic is now underway at Matheson & Grove Fine Art Gallery at 205 Martin St.

This piece was inspired by Dr. JoyAnne Krupa, Dr. Rebecca Psutka and Dr. Jackie Bourdeaux, three resident physicians who consulted with the newly-formed arts committee at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The mosaic consists of a flowering vine attracting a number of butterflies. Matheson said to see the artwork actually coming together is truly exciting.

“The planning stage is the mind-bending part. Now I’ve got my gloves on and can actually dig and play and create,” she said in a news release. “Today we’re injecting colour-tinted resin into the tubes, then shaping them around bottles and things to make a vine.”

The medical materials are being placed onto a large custom-built wooden frame in Matheson’s art studio and then surrounded by layers of resin, creating a three-dimensional effect.

Fellow artist Werklund has worked extensively with resin over the years – but never something like this.

“I’ve never injected resin into tubes so this is kind of a new experience,” he said. “It’s a wonderful assemblage and a lot of fun.”

Werklund said he’s intrigued by the idea of turning medical waste into art.

“I also like the technical aspects of creating a piece like this. It’s 3-D but you’re still thinking in 2-D as well.”

READ ALSO: Artist will use medical waste, resin to create upcycled butterfly mosaic

Volunteer Robin Robertson, also a member of the PRH arts committee, says she didn’t hesitate to get involved.

“I think was of the resident physicians on our committee who talked about the notion that there’s lots of waste in the hospital – and how could we use that in art,” she said. “I’ve never worked with resin before so it’s fun to learn something new.”

Matheson hopes to have the work completed by the end of April and believes it could lead to similar works in the future.

READ ALSO: Okanagan College class looks to disrupt fatphobia with art

“I think one of the really important things people have connected with is that it’s recycled,” she said. “I’d like to do this for a lot of hospitals.”

More volunteers are welcome. By making a donation to the hospital’s arts program, donors have an opportunity to become a hands-on participant in the project.

To schedule an appointment contact Renee Matheson at 250-488-4999 or email her at mathesonarts@gmail.com.


 

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Artist Mark Werklund checks out a resin-filled syringe as he helps create a butterfly mosaic from recycled medical waste at Penticton artist Renee Matheson’s downtown studio. (Submitted photo - Western News)

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