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WORDS Ady Shannon PHOTO Supplied

From his garage/studio in Richmond, Rob Upritchard is making colourful monkeys from a self-assembled, Heath Robinson-inspired modular machine that mulches, recycles, and repurposes waste and junk. The oversized monkeys will be part of a creative installation for Sculpture on the Peninsula, the South Island’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition being held in November. Rob, a sculptor, jeweller, artist, stone carver, landscape gardener, father of two, eco-warier, environmentalist, and self-described Jack-of- all-trades, is combining his creative flair with a passion for making the world a better place.

“My journey into plastic recycling has created many wonderful outcomes. The giant barrel monkeys cast from recycled plastic follow my passion for altering scales of objects in our daily life and of course, recycling. The title “Do No Evil” comes from two sayings that I strongly relate to. The first comes from the proverbial monkeys who tell us to ‘see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil’. The second from the Hippocratic Oath, ‘First, do no harm’.

“Both of these concepts offer solutions to the problems that arise with the way we treat the natural world. I am often troubled with the plastic overload we face in our modern age. Single-use plastic is everywhere and many of our clothes and toys are constantly shedding microplastic pieces into our homes, air, and water. Although these monkeys are made from plastic that was heading to landfill – liners from oil testing jars, milk bottle tops, and nail box lids – I don’t think they hold the ultimate solution. My hope is they might spark some conversation and ideas towards what is.

“I would love to see more funding thrown at soft plastic recycling solutions and alternatives to packaging. I would love us all to make tiny changes where we can. Not just with straws and shopping bags, but with every purchase we make being an informed and conscious choice.”

Rob’s monkeys will be one of many site- specific, unique installations being offered for sale at Sculpture on the Peninsula, Loudon Farm, Banks Peninsula on November 8–10.

Joshua Brosnahan