Glasgow artist launches plastic bag museum

GLASGOW (AFP) – Katrina Cobain unwraps a parcel and removes its precious contents, slowly and delicately as if she were handling an ancient scroll of papyrus.

But the items she places on the table of a makeshift studio in an old factory in the east end of Glasgow are rather more mundane – plastic carrier bags.

Yet, to many, they are considered historical items, representing the consumer excesses of the 20th and 21st centuries.

For Cobain, 24, every plastic bag tells a story of the modern age and so, two years ago, she became a collector and plans to start a museum.

“The original idea started because I felt that landfill sites could be archaeological digs of the future and for our civilisation they would be filled with plastic,” she told AFP.

“They reveal so much about our lifestyle in the last 60 years in terms of consumerism and social history.

“They can document or reveal key shifts in our lifestyles, key historic events and also changes in graphic design styles.”

When Cobain put the word out that she intended to start a museum she was inundated with bags from around the world.

Her growing collection includes ones from New York and the old Soviet Union.

Others commemorate the supersonic passenger jet Concorde, and even the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son and heir Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

“Why they were making bags commemorating the royal wedding, I don’t know,” said Cobain. “It shows you the level of production of plastic bags at that time that such events were being printed onto bags.”

British artist Katrina Cobain, 24, poses for photographs with some of her collection of plastic bags from which she intends to start The Plastic Bag Museum in Glasgow. PHOTO: AFP