The Man Who Turns Trash Into Accidental Art


In Stephen Alan Yorke’s case, another person’s junk is his art. Whenever Yorke walks back home, he regularly passes a tiny concrete ledge with a brick background, which probably used to be a window, but now seems to be a depository for garbage. Instead of picking up the trash and moving it to a garbage bin, he takes pictures of the discarded objects with his iPhone. Seeing the ledge as an ever-changing blank canvas for litterbugs — or what Yorke prefers to call “accidental artists” — Yorke has assumed the role of curator of this odd art gallery, and documents each exhibit on his website, Morgan Road Gallery.

View some of Yorke’s curated pieces and read the interview after the jump.

Anonymous gang, Junk Food Versus Fruit, 2010. Rotten banana, discount Diet Coke can, ice-lolly sticks & unknown pink residue. 36½ x 24 inches.

Flavorpill: What gave you the idea to start taking pictures of junk?

Stephen Alan Yorke: Since buying my first mobile phone with a built-in camera seven or eight years ago, I’ve been photographing random discarded items around London. I’ve never gone out of my way to seek them out, they’ve always been things I’ve stumbled upon whilst on my travels and I snap them because I find them funny. The site’s only been live for around two weeks and I’m really pleased with the high level of interest that it’s received so early on.

Anonymous, Finger Lickin’ Lonesome, 2010. Discarded Kentucky Fried Chicken carton. 36½ x 24 inches.

FP: Can just about anything be considered art?

SAY: Even though my background is in art and design, I’m not an artist. I’m a comedy writer and performer, so for me the intention of the Morgan Road Gallery was to simply produce a light-hearted piece of personal work rather than a deliberate parody of contemporary art. Hopefully the spirit of fun comes across, but at the same time I think by default the project does challenge people’s perceptions on what is considered ‘art’ and more specifically question what installation and environmental artists get away with calling ‘art.’

Anonymous, Suburban Cinderella, 2010. Blue canvas right shoe. 36½ x 24 inches.

FP: Do you believe art requires the intention of an artist?

SAY: If everyday people are unintentionally creating alleged environmental art like this then maybe anyone can do it. Personally, I think art of any medium is truly dependent on what the individual considers to be art in the first place. How different is it really to display a melted ice-lolly, rotten piece of fruit and dented cola can compared to exhibiting an unmade bed?

Anonymous, Smoking When Pregnant Harms Your Baby, 2010. Empty packet of cigarettes & home pregnancy kit box. 36½ x 24 inches.

FP: Is there something inherently subversive about your project?

SAY: I think it’s possible to attribute any supposed intellectual meaning to a basic three-dimensional visual, which is one of the things I enjoy most about the project. I love looking for the tragic story behind a singular object, taking the sadness within the image of something like an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken box and making it ridiculous by attributing a weightier meaning through the title I give it. Without the concrete exhibition space the objects and indeed the overall idea are much less interesting. For that reason I think it’s very true to the notion and the idea of environmental art and site-specific installations, and why some observers could fall into the trap of looking for a higher meaning behind the gallery than there actually is.

Anonymous, The Trident of Lucifer Jr, 2010. Orange plastic fork. 36½ x 24 inches.