Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi creates installation from 24,000 used coffee capsules


'I believe that we each play a role in making a difference for our planet, and through small improvements in our everyday actions we are certainly one step closer towards sustainability, ' says Red Hong Yi. Photo: Handout

If you are wondering what happens with your used coffee capsules after you drop them off for recycling, you can swing by the Nespresso outlet at The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur to see how Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi has given them a new lease of life.

She has created Kaleidoscope, an art installation comprising seven mirrored panels made out of 24,000 pieces of used aluminium capsules from Nespresso’s recycling programme.

“I am honoured by the opportunity to work with Nespresso, a brand that continuously encourages consumers to recycle, giving items a second life. We are seeing many environmental issues around us, so when they reached out to me to work on this project, I was really excited to be part of it, because it is an important issue to highlight. I thought of ways to showcase and amplify these themes through the used and expired capsules and ended up with this art piece, ” says Red, who hails from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Describing the experience as a unique one, she shares that the artwork is particularly timely as the world currently faces environmental challenges such as climate change.

“From seeing how the whole world responded to the current pandemic, it shows that if we feel a sense of urgency towards an important issue, we are able to work together to address them. This is why I really wanted to work on this project to spread a very important message to encourage the public to take action, ” she explains.

The Kaleidoscope installation weighs 70kg and is 1.46m in height.

Its seven panels reflect the “Doing Is Everything” phrase, a nod to the importance of recycling and the role every individual plays in being a positive impact to the world.

“I believe that we each play a role in making a difference for our planet, and through small improvements in our everyday actions we are certainly one step closer towards sustainability.

"Taking action is everything; when you choose to live a more sustainable life, it really means a lot to our environment and everyone around us. Even if it’s just small actions like recycling a capsule, it is still a step towards change, hence ‘Doing Is Everything’, says Red.

Kaleidoscope is on display at The Gardens Mall until May 30.

There is also an exhibition at South Palm, The Gardens, that showcases behind the scenes images of Red’s work on Kaleidoscope and some display items. It runs until April 18.

The Nespresso recycling initiative is ongoing. More info here.

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