The beauty of bin bags

Graphic artist Mark James has created a series of eerie collages using crumpled bin liners for Super Furry Animals musician Cian Ciaran’s second album, They Are Nothing Without Us.

Graphic artist Mark James has created a series of eerie collages using crumpled bin liners for Super Furry Animals musician Cian Ciaran’s second album, They Are Nothing Without Us.

Ciaran’s album is described as a protest record targeting oil companies and ‘political villains’. James’s cover artwork features a kaleidoscopic collage of a binbag shaped to look like a skull and images referencing the record’s key themes. He has also designed a bin bag rodent for the cover of the first single to be released from the album, Sewn Up, and a bin liner island that will feature in an illustrated six panel CD pack and double-sleeved vinyl edition out later this month.

“Mark’s artwork is the visual embodiment of the album, creating a claustrophobic, moody world that’s as intriguing as it is scary. Producing something darkly beautiful from something as common and overlooked as a bin liner fits the theme of the album perfectly,” says Ciaran.

The project is James’s fourth experiment with bin liner art: in 2008, he produced a short film, This Dull Ache, which paired oddly mesmerising footage of bin liners shifting and unfolding with music from DJ Cherrystones. The video was released last year and shown at the Adidas Underground Event in London as part of the brand’s Olympics celebrations, and he has since produced a mirror-image follow up, This Dull Ache: Divided (below), as well as a one-off cover for Laura Marling album The Beast which was sold at charity auction Secret 7″.

“The work with bin bags came out of an accidental happening in my studio,” says James. “I was working late one night and sorting out the rubbish, and I left a scrunched up bin bag on my desk. It started to move and change, so I started watching and filmed it for a while. I soon became obsessed with the flowing movement it created so I contacted Cherrystones and Academy Films as I wanted to take the idea further,” he adds.

“When Ciaran approached me about creating artwork for his album, he gave me some demo tracks. They were quite heavy, so I went down quite a dark route. The final artwork covers a lot of the album’s key themes, such as ice caps and oil and war, in an image that you can look at and see different things for a long time,” he explains.

James has released a limited-edition five colour screen print of the artwork, which will be available to buy at Pledge Music, and is working on a 3D bin bag sculpture for a solo exhibition that he hopes to launch later this year – he has recently been awarded funding for a permanent art and design exhibition space in Cardiff, where he is based.

They Are Nothing Without Us will be released on September 23 on Strangetown Records. James’s limited edition screenprint will be available to buy at Pledge Music.

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Graphic Designer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
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Integrated Designer

Centaur Media