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Milk bottles create art-tic Igloo in Footscray

Guest blog post by Joyce Watts of TOT: HOT OR NOT

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Build and Rebuild, a free 4 week program of fun and engaging construction themed activities for families, was inspired by my local library in Footscray.

I had noticed for a while that the lovely leafy central courtyard needed a boost – people didn’t seem to be using it that much. My children and I had never thought to explore it in our frequent visits to the library.

I thought such a lovely space had the potential to become a really interesting and inviting place for all library visitors, especially families.

At the same time, the council launched the Artsbox program with a free artist residency inside a shipping container at Footscray Library. So I contacted Jo Skladzien, a local parent with a background in design, architecture and placemaking, and we applied to be artists-in-residence for 4 weeks over the Autumn school holidays.

Together with the library staff we developed a program of creative projects, construction play, storytime and craft activities to transform Footscray Library’s courtyard. The aim of the project was to teach and inspire local children about art, design, architecture, building, sustainability and their role in the urban and natural environment.

We’ve given out hundreds of golden leaf stickers so that families could collaborate on a large Reflective Sticker Wall art piece.

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Local children have cut and decorated 46 recycled plastic milk bottles and planted them with plants native to the area. The bottles have been hung on the metal grill of one of the courtyard walls to form a Milk Bottle Green Wall.

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Many children have dropped into the Artsbox to participate in activities with an architecture, construction and sustainability theme. They’ve enjoyed reading books, constructing buildings and vehicles with Lego, building gardens with kinetic sand, forming a clay city using air-dry clay and colouring-in.

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Our showcase event was the building of a Milk Bottle Igloo. Over a thousand milk bottles were donated by local businesses, schools and residents and they’ve been transformed into a beautiful sculpture and reading cubby in the centre of the courtyard. The collaborative installation is a visual representation of how much plastic waste we throw away and we hope it will create an awareness of how waste can be reused and recycled for other purposes.

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We’ll be revealing the full glory of the Milk Bottle Igloo and the Reflective Sticker Wall at a special night time storytime event on Thursday 16 April. Families will be encouraged to bring blankets and torches as we read stories under the stars and with the gentle glow of the igloo and reflective wall.

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About Joyce and Jo

Joyce is a Footscray local who writes a blog called TOT: HOT OR NOT (www.tothotornot.com) the decisive guide to family-friendly Melbourne. The website aims to inspire families to explore their city, whether it’s through arts, music, active play or dining out.

Jo is a West Footscray local with a background in design, architecture and activating public spaces.

Joyce and Jo are both local parents with two children each, all under 5 years old. They are both regular visitors of their local library and share a personal interest in place-making and experiencing interesting, educational and fun activities with children.