Brecon artist Simon Royer has been creating a sustainable life-size bull in his gallery on Lion Street in Brecon. The bull, made from recyclable materials, is being created in collaboration with Luke Palmer, a principal designer at furniture manufacturer Orange Box.
"What this bull represents for us is the fact that all the products that we've designed and developed have been designed with remanufacturing in mind." Luke Palmer says. "At the end of its life, we want to get that product back and remanufacture it and sell it, or give it to another user, so that we are avoiding that waste element."
The bull, which has caught the attention of local residents, is just one such product. "It had to have integrity." Luke said. "This represents a 97% up-cycled finished product. Cardboard, waste paper, all the fabric would have ultimately gone to their waste streams and been lost. But we've re-appropriated all of the materials to produce the bull."
Luke first produced a life-size bull for a local rugby club to use as their mascot. It gave the Orange Box team an idea around environmental manufacturing, and they created the 'No Green Bull' as a message against company greenwashing, a term used to describe the way some companies may claim to be environmentally sustainable, but have no solid evidence to back up such claims. They are creating the new bull to take with them on their trade shows, as a sign of how recycling materials can be beneficial to product making.
"The Greta generation understand perhaps more than anyone that climate change is happening. Therefore, Orange Box is trying to do the best we can." Luke says. They are travelling to Clerkenwell Design Week in London, a design festival, where the bull will debut. "We've got this bull as an instillation to help us communicate that message."
Orange Box have been reducing their excessive material use over 20 years. They hope that the bull will represent them across the rest of the UK as a statement piece of what can be achieved when you recycle materials.
Simon has been an artist for 30 years, and got involved by luck, after he moved to a new studio decorated with his fine art paintings. "Luke, who I have seen at the local pub for the last few years, came in by chance and said he didn't know I did this. He said 'would you like to make the bull?', and I was a bit reluctant. The only reason I took it on was because I was intrigued."
Simon, who previously crafted a 42-inch sperm whale, is surprised at how popular the bull has been. "I like a challenge, and I quite like the fact that it's all recycled material. It has put my shop on the map."
His usual work is paintings, so the bull has been a welcome addition to his vast portfolio. "I've made models for museums and aquariums, but I'm not actually a model maker." Simon says. "I just make this up as I go along."
The bull started with a 3D printed model, before a wooden frame was crafted to build upon with cardboard and other waste material, some of which came from the local pharmacy. "I'm now an expert in cardboard and PVA. This is basic glue and card. You don't have to be an expert."
The public interest has been so big that he is considering making smaller models, made from similar recycled materials, of other farm animals.
The bull hasn't been named yet, and both Simon and Luke are keen to get the public involved to name the bull.