From Cowboys to Astronauts – towards a circular economy

The exhibition continues at Teignmouth Arts Action Group (TAAG), from Friday, 12th June to Thursday, 18th June 2015, 10am to 5pm. 

Imagine you're on a spaceship travelling thousands of miles above the earth. You have a limited amount of resources, on which you depend for your survival. Given the scarcity of your resources, you need to think of ways to manage them wisely, and consider minimising  waste and re-use.

In 1966, economist Kenneth E. Boulding wrote an essay  on ‘The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth’. In this, he envisioned the need for a movement away from what he termed a "cowboy economy“, based on the assumption of apparently boundless resources, to a "spaceman economy". He  made the analogy that  "the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system".

The concept of “Spaceship Earth” conveyed the message that we are rapidly using up limited resources such as fossil fuels, some of which have taken billions of years to form - and creating  serious waste problems along the way.  

From Cowboys to Astronauts is an art from waste exhibition promoting the concept of a circular economy – a regenerative economic system where materials and energy from products are recovered and put back into the system instead of simply being disposed of. Invited artists will use waste materials to demonstrate what can be achieved when we move away from the throwaway mind-set that is endemic in our society.  

The artists have been working with the Centre for Alternative Materials and Remanufacturing Technologies (CALMARE), a business technology centre, part funded by the ERDF, based at the University of Exeter. The waste materials used in the exhibition have been sourced from the University itself and from other locations around Devon, including Exeter and Plymouth Scrapstores, Peninsula Waste Savers in Okehampton and the Devon County Council recycling centres managed by SITA.

In recent years as resource prices have risen and waste problems increased, there has been greater interest in developing a "Circular Economy" – and the opportunity has been widely promoted by the Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation founded in 2010 by the former professional yachtswoman. 

Entry to the exhibition will be free, and it will be open every day, from Friday 12th June to Thursday 18th June 2015. 

For more details and to view images of the artwork, take a look at our From Cowboys to Astronauts Teignmouth brochure

The exhibition was previously held at The Enviro Hub, Devon Contract Waste, Marsh Barton, Exeter, from Monday, April 27th to Friday, May 22nd 2015.

Artists taking part

Roger Gibson
Caroline Saunders
Kasia Turajczyk (Marketing Dreams)
Angela Read
Laura Denning
Helen Snell (The Enviro Hub only)
Alison Savic
Elizabeth Jardine
Chrissie Roberts
Jas Matthews (Lojango Design)
Sam Photic
Barbara Sturrock
Diana Tingley
Gail Bryant
Hilary O'Dwyer (Studio 4 Design)
Mariana Lopez (The Ocean Corner)
Kathryn Trenshaw (The Passionate Presence Center)
Jane Perkins
Celia Over
Julia Vella (MJ Vella Art)
Liz Lockyear (TRAIL)
Martyn Windsor (CCANW)


Useful links

Devon Contract Waste

Exeter Scrapstore:

Plymouth Play Association and Scrapstore

Peninsula Waste Savers Ltd


From Trash to Treasure - turning waste into art

From Trash to Treasure is a collaboration between CALMARE and sole traders and businesses in the South West creative industries, which aims to highlight some of the key ideas that industry and consumers need to be aware of, including recycling, landfill and our response to the ever increasing problem of waste.‌

Following fully booked knowledge exchange workshops highlighting how much is being sent to landfill and what opportunities there are for industry to change this, the project will culminate in the attendees producing a statement piece from recycled materials to be showcased in an exhibition next year.

Artists who took part qualify for a free CALMARE business assist provided they have not received more than 200,000 Euros from a government agency in the past three years. More information is available in the following documents:

 Testimonials about the workshops

"Wonderful, inspiring, thought-provoking" Katheryn Trenshaw

"Really enjoyable workshop. Very informative and gave me a lot of food for thought." Karyn Easton

"I found the whole day thought provoking and inspirational. It has encouraged me to think differently about my work." Alison Bendall



From left to right - work by Angela Read, Yvonne Morton and Hilary O'Dwyer