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Sculpture representing plastic waste goes on display at Nottingham Trent University

A life-sized human-shaped sculpture made of plastic and weighing 96.66kg has taken up residence at Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) City campus.

Plastic Person Sculpture goes on display at NTU

The concept of ‘Plastic Person’ was envisaged by artist and former NTU tutor Joshua Sofaer and the Environment Agency in 2021 to raise awareness of plastic waste.

A live body cast was taken of a man weighing 96.66kg – the amount of plastic waste each person in the UK produces each year – by Richard Arm, Senior Research Fellow at NTU.

The public was invited to donate plastics which were ground down to create the final sculpture – and ‘Plastic Person’ was born.

It has been on display at BACKLIT, the artist-led, public gallery and studios in Nottingham founded by Matthew Chesney after his graduation from NTU with a degree in fine art.

Now ‘Plastic Person’ or ‘Plastic Pete’ as the sculpture is affectionately known – as the model used for the body cast was called Pete, and the plastics used are known as PETE, or polyethylene terephthalate – has been added to the University’s art collection.

It is now on display at NTU’s City campus as a visual reminder of our collective responsibility to reduce reliance on plastic – and the importance of recycling.

Matthew Chesney, Founding Director of BACKLIT said: "BACKLIT was delighted to work with the Environment Agency and NTU to explore crucial conversations around waste produced by the gallery and the environment. The artistic and innovative process of making, building and collaborating has resulted in a creative and meaningful sculpture. This will continue to highlight the growing concern of plastic waste, with the hope of making people think and act differently about their surroundings.”

Anne Adams, Culture Officer at NTU who manages NTU’s art collection said: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at NTU – from our operations, teaching and research. We have a responsibility to future generations and as an educational institution, it is our job to help spread the sustainability message.

“Plastic Person has had many links to NTU since its conception – the artist, the creator and even the gallery where it has been on display. Once the exhibition ended, there were discussions around what would happen to Pete, with one option to potentially grind him down and recycle him.

“We wanted to establish Plastic Person within NTU to continue the conversation around plastic waste and bring the issue to life in a visual way to educate others.”

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Sculpture representing plastic waste goes on display at Nottingham Trent University

Published on 11 May 2023
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