Girl With a Cardboard Earring, an artwork by Jirka Väätäinen on a waste collection truck

The artwork Girl With a Cardboard Earring reminds us of the importance of waste sorting

Several waste collection trucks of Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY carry an artwork by artist Jirka Väätäinen, titled Girl With a Cardboard Earring. The artwork was created from recycled cardboard and inspires viewers to see waste as valuable raw materials. The volume of cardboard packaging collected from homes has grown from last year.

The artwork is a cardboard collage, the motif and inspiration for which came from the famous painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer depicting a girl wearing an oriental turban, first known as Girl with a Turban but today better known by the name Girl With a Pearl Earring.

“I wanted to play with the contrast between waste and high culture with my artwork. At its best, it may inspire a viewer to see beauty in cardboard, instead of just waste, to create a beautiful and valuable artwork from recycled cardboard,” says artist Jirka Väätäinen, describing his artwork.

HSY wants to raise general appreciation of waste materials with the help of art on waste collection trucks, as well as to inspire residents to see waste as valuable raw materials for new products.

A marked increase in collected cardboard in early 2020  

The residents of the Helsinki metropolitan area and Kirkkonummi sorted and recycled an exceptionally high volume of cardboard during the spring and summer 2020, which were marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The total volume of cardboard placed in waste containers in January-July 2020 was 33 percent higher than in the same period in 2019.

More art created from waste to be seen 

The number of HSY waste collection trucks to be enhanced with various artworks on their frames will be 120–150 in the next few years. HSY will supply waste collection trucks with a full series of art. The artworks on trucks will include one inspired by glass-and-metal sorting. 

How the artwork Girl With a Cardboard Earring was created

Jirka Väätäinen recorded his creative process of making the artwork in a video, which shows the accuracy and the power of depiction of the collage method. 

Read more: 

A release on the topic from HSY (in Finnish) 

Photo: HSY