Glasgow School of Art X Midton: Materials Matter

For 40 years, Midton has been cultivating a community of designers and makers. We take pride in our innovation and we are always striving to discover new and leading ways within the manufacturing industry.

A key focus of discovery for Midton has been the imperative need to reduce our own factory waste and increase our sustainable options. To encourage this, we invested in an in-house chipping machine to recycle our factory waste. But, we knew this was not enough. 

Extensive research and development was carried out to give this ‘waste’ a new life. Remade was created – a new sustainable product, providing a unique and eco-friendly alternative to virgin acrylic. This material is produced onsite at the factory, representing localised plastic recycling, and remanufacturing at its best.

Early testing stages of our Remade material

What was the purpose of this project?

This material shows great success, maintaining 100% PMMA content, 100% recyclability, and composed of up to 70% industrial waste. Even with this high recycled content, Remade preserves its material purity. As we continued to develop this, we discovered the easy transition for our traditional line of work in awards and financial tombstones. What required further investigation was its use as a sculpting material. We already had a firm understanding of virgin cast acrylic within the sculpting realm, with optical clarity and strength in shape and form. With Remade, however, the possibilities opened further, especially for texture and depth.

‘Derma’, Danielle Mcallister.

Why Glasgow School of Art?

When developing this material, we knew we wanted to think outside the box. We didn’t want to limit creativity, and seen great potential for a two-way collaboration.

And who is best for this? Students, of course.

The Glasgow School of Art is one of Europe’s leading higher education institutions for the education and research in the visual creative disciplines. Luckily for us, the institution is also on our doorstep.

‘Wrapped Remade’, Garrett Ure

We reached out to Lesley Black to seek guidance on the possibility of collaborating with the prestigious school. From here, we were put in contact with Justin Carter and Sue Brind of Sculpture & Environmental Art. We quickly realised that this was the perfect opportunity for a successful partnership to form.

From here, we established a year long project, focused on the use of recycled plastics through:

‘Reveal, Remade’, April.

Materials Matter

Following applications, we have worked with a group of six hugely talented students, each bringing their own artistic edge to Remade.

‘Reconditioned’, Lisa Gordon.
‘Quasi-Crystalline Rhombi’, Alissa Monova

Alissa Monova, April, Danielle McAllister, Garrett Ure, Lisa Gordon & Nadia Zhaya worked to created a diverse range of sculptures. This collection demonstrates the wide range of abilities that using recycled materials brings to the world of design. From encapsulation of mixed materials, to creating a sculpture exclusively from recycled shards, to heat-bending strips of the material – the process has been one of invaluable learning for both the students, and our own team. 

“At Midton, we are passionate about supporting creatives, and encouraging new possibilities for artists. As an underappreciated, and underused material within the art sphere, we sought an opportunity to educate and engage a new generation of artists to see the benefits of using cast acrylic through their art. The creation and development of Remade has presented the perfect opportunity to do this”.

Craig Cameron, Director
‘The Thing’, Nadia Zhaya

The following is an excerpt from Glasgow School of Art’s publication, Materials Matter, made from this year’s cohort of Sculpture and Environmental Art students…

“This project was dedicated to the memory of Myra Ostacchini, a former student and latterly friend and colleague, whose boundless energy and enthusiasm for everything creative was limitless. It is fitting that someone who seemed to give more than she took inspired a project all about the value and potential of materials and making.

The plastics strand of the Materials Matter brief we were lucky enough to be supported by Midton, a company based in Lochgilphead, who were planning to launch their new product Remade – a recycled acrylic material composed of factory waste. They were keen to work with different project partners to see what they could do with this new material. Although Sculpture and Environmental Art students weren’t perhaps the obvious choice, their capacity for being able to think differently about its use was recognised and, thanks mainly to the support of Lesley Black from GSA Enterprise Studio, we entered into a collaboration. 

Plastic has become synonymous with the catastrophic environmental issues we are currently facing, and for good reason. Its abuse, particularly as single use plastic has caused it to be broken down into microplastics which are now omnipresent as dangerous and seemingly immovable elements in the environment we are part of, including the water, the soil, the sea, the fish we eat, and inevitably the flesh we are made of. But the fault of the material isn’t in the material itself, but in the way that it has been used and devalued, causing it to become the toxic ‘genie’, let out of the industrial lamp

Part of the goal of this project then was to reuse and revalue plastic as a material, to re-think it and remake it with the critical knowledge we now have. The journey we have all been on together, fundamentally of learning, has been not only valuable but also fun.”