Sunday, December 4, 2022
December 4, 2022

Cookie-tin samurai aims to inspire recyclers

“You’ll laugh,” said artist Karen Leonard. “But it was the Tom Cruise movie!” 

Leonard is chuckling to herself, describing the inspiration of the 2003 movie The Last Samurai that brought her to design and create “Recycle Samurai,” a sculpture installed at the Salt Spring Recycling Depot. 

“And it was a great movie. I was surprised, because he’s sort of a goofball.” Leonard laughed again. “But that image just kept sitting in my mind, of him with the two swords.” 

The final product is the “re-use” part of “reduce, reuse, recycle” manifest in found — and donated — items. Wood came generously from Windsor Plywood, twist ties came courtesy Country Grocer, and the cookie tins were, in a sense, donated by all of us. 

“Peter [Grant] at the recycling depot let me put out a bag for the tins,” said Leonard, “and then everyone on Salt Spring contributed!” 

Recycle Samurai’s two swords were from old barbecue spits, said Leonard — and his ski boot feet and helmet were among items from the “Blackburn Mall,” the donation-priced re-usable goods section at Salt Spring Garbage’s Blackburn Road transfer station. Once the pieces were sourced, there was the nontrivial matter of putting it all together — an effort carried out over the last year (whenever weather permitted) in the driveway at Leonard’s home. The work attracted the interest of a few neighbours, she said. 

“They said all the hammering sounded a little like Santa’s Workshop!” recalled Leonard, who said they were ultimately quite understanding once they saw the sculpture coming together. 

The final product at the depot — bigger than she’d imagined it would be — needed only a single attachment to the roof, at the samurai’s larger sword, to support the weight.  

“But he’s made out of all recycled stuff,” said Leonard.  

“I think we often feel like the world’s coming to an end,” she continued. “But meanwhile, we can do little things.”  

With a little planning, Leonard said, we can all find ways to re-use things, and not add unnecessarily to landfills. Leonard hopes the sculpture will inspire visitors and recyclers. 

“There’s still a lot we can all do,” she said. “Probably more than we think.” 



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