Rubbish is a fine art

Donna's sculptures: Globes and birds are in the mix
Donna's sculptures: Globes and birds are in the mix
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SHE gets some odd looks, does Donna Bramall, when she’s picking things out of the gutter or scrabbling for litter in the street.

When she’s with her teenage children they moan she’s embarrassing them. Her friends are too polite to comment but they stand back a little.

Donna's sculptures: Globes and birds are in the mix

Donna's sculptures: Globes and birds are in the mix

But this is how Donna wants to be remembered.

For when she’s picking up those washers, bottle tops, loose change, ring pulls, nuts, cans and bottles off the streets of Sheffield she is collecting for a rather unusual reason.

See, the 40-year-old makes and sells incredible life size sculptures crafted from the rubbish she finds everywhere she goes.

“As a society we throw so much stuff away and this is a way of trying to create something people can admire and find interesting from that so-called waste,” says the 40-year-old mother-of-three. “I have a big bag and I never leave the house without it because there is rubbish every where you go which can be made use of. When I’m shopping in Sheffield especially I always have my eyes on the floor. I bet I sound like a scavenger or something – but I always carry wet wipes.”

Waste not, want not: Donna Bramall with her owl sculpture

Waste not, want not: Donna Bramall with her owl sculpture

In any case, the results of such scavenging are bizarrely quite beautiful.

Here, for example, in her Carlton-in-Lindrick garden, is an 11 ft alligator made from dumped tyres, while over there is an owl made from discarded cutlery, screws, nuts and bolts. Inside, on the dining room table, meanwhile, is a globe made from an old enamel pot she found in woodland and wiring discovered in Fargate.

She’s also sold a dozen other pieces including a fairy made of shells and drift wood, a pussy cat made from scrap metal, and a peacock crafted from industrial rubber.

Not bad for a one-time care assistant who has never had any formal training and uses only super-strength glue to shape her work.

“I don’t really know where I get my ideas,” she laughs. “The material tends to guide me. So for example the globe came about because I discovered this gorgeous blue pot and I thought it looked like the world.”

She started making the sculptures four years ago after finding a love for arts and crafts while helping at her children’s school – and she’s now selling work for up to £200 a piece

“When the kids were young we’d take them to the beach and they would collect shells and driftwood and anything they liked the look of and for some reason we never threw it out,” she explains.

“Then I was going to get rid of it one day and I just thought I could use it to make something so I crafted a couple of little birds.”

Now six of her objects will be displayed in Sheffield for the first time during the Great Sheffield Art Show, at the Octagon Centre, next month and then at Art in the Gardens in the city’s Botanical Gardens in September.

“I hope people appreciate it,” she says. “When they do, that makes the odd looks well worthwhile.”