Litter Monster

Part of project: Community

The Litter Monster was an enormous, 5-metre high sculptural installation towering over visitors to Eden Rivers Wonder World, Eden Rivers Trust’s collaborative exhibition with Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The work was the result of a partnership between artists from Woodmatters, Rag Tag Arts, Gorgeous Media and pupils from Appleby Primary School, Petteril Bank Community School and Rockcliffe CE School.

The idea behind the Litter Monster was the question: ‘Who is the Litter Monster?’ The answer was revealed as being inside all of us: our choices and actions that allow the ‘monster’ to be safely contained or escape. This was represented by a human ‘cage’ from which mini Litter Monsters are breaking out in order to form one giant rubbish monster emerging from a crumpled fizzy drink container – like a genie from a bottle. The monster grasped a TV screen on which an animation shared children’s thoughts and feelings about the issue of litter in rivers, through the voice of their ‘Mini-Monsters’.

The sheer volume of waste from the Eden catchment that made up the Litter Monster was staggering and a shocking reminder of how one person’s thoughtless neglect can multiply into a major epidemic.

The most poignant part of the installation was a single item of litter, displayed in a showcase as if it were some ancient artefact in the British Museum. It was a perfectly preserved M&M’s packet with a best before date from 2007 – 11 years before it was unearthed by the children involved with the project and dating from a time before any of them were born!

During the schools’ sessions the children working on the project talked about the influence of Sir David Attenborough and his TV series, Blue Planet. Little did they know that Ro Thomas from Woodmatters would get in touch with Sir David to tell him about the brilliant work that they had being doing…or that he would reply!

He praised the children’s efforts to fight Eden’s litter problem, and commented that ‘if everyone plays their part, as you are doing, our planet will be a cleaner and better place for the future.’ The letter was proudly unveiled at a special event at Tullie House for all those that took part in the project and was then displayed alongside the Litter Monster as part of the exhibition.

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