“I mean, it’s not been a lifetime passion,” Joe Lycett laughs, “but once you start looking at certain things you can’t stop.”
He’s talking about his latest project, a glossy coffee-table book about bins. It’s the latest in a long line of unusual artistic stunts from the Birmingham-born comic/presenter/artist/activist whose profile was raised significantly recently when he criticised footballer David Beckham for his role as a World Cup ambassador in Qatar, threatening to shred £10,000 if he continued his support.
The whole bin thing started when he appeared on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? “It was very beautiful countryside and there was this horrible bin and I was looking at it and I took some pictures of it and then I couldn’t stop.” The result is, literally, rubbish: “I thought, can I make a gorgeous, beautiful looking thing that’s essentially just about pieces of shit?”
It seems the concept is more than just an ironic stunt – Lycett is genuinely passionate about bins. “I’ve always liked solid shapes and colours and bins are these weird blocks of colour in the middle of the countryside or in the middle of cities or parks – they’re pleasingly graphical.”