Shining light: Sarah Turner

Annie Deakin talks to Sarah Turner, eco artist and designer who makes stylish lighting from waste plastic drinks bottles. Turner is best known for her creation at the Olympics, a nine-foot sculpture of a diving man made out of reconditioned Coca Cola bottles and cans.

I am completely obsessed with… making beautiful, functional items from waste materials.

Even as a child… I was making things from waste materials. I can see their value as raw materials and can’t bring myself to thrown something away that could be useful.

I couldn’t run my business without… my fantastic bottle army. They are friends and friends of friends who help me recycle by donating their used bottles. At university I worked in a coffee shop where lots of plastic bottles were thrown away. I started to collect them instead. It was incredible how many were thrown away. I often took home a bin bag full or two each day.

People think that… I melt the bottles down and reform them but really it’s a lot simpler. At first I sandblast the bottles to turn them from being transparent to opaque.  This makes the material feel a lot more high quality and diffuses light well.  I sometimes dye the bottles bold vibrant colours.  Then the intricate, skilled part comes into play. Each bottle has to be hand cut and sculpted into the delicate forms.

People are often amazed that… I don’t measure any of the cuts. It is all done by eye.

My favourite exhibition was… an eco design exhibition called Le Braderie de l’Art in Lille, France. The exhibitors chose items from a massive warehouse full of rubbish to create new artworks in front of the public. It was fantastic; it was 24 hours non-stop so we all worked through the night.

I really admire… Tord Boontjie’s lighting designs.  The only light at home which I didn’t create is a Tord Boontjie Garland light. I remember going to the V&A as a teenager and seeing a beautiful lit up forest of flowers and leaves by Boontjie. I remember thinking that this was what I wanted to do when I was older. 

The object that I am most proud of designing is… my nine metre tall sculpture of a high diver for the Olympic Games.  Coco Cola commissioned it.  It was made of thousands of pieces of waste bottles and cans tied onto invisible wire suspended from the ceiling. One of the reasons I am most proud is as there were so many problems to overcome, such as its size.  It was bigger than my studio so I had to make it in the corridor.

Next projects include… making a Christmas tree from plastic bottles for a council in Scotland. I am also working with an American company to start producing my lights on a larger scale. 

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for the mydecomarketplace, an online shopping experience where you can search hundreds of home furnishings and accessories all in one place.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk