Cindy through the looking glass

Cindy Poole’s and Jason Wooldridge’s spectacular steel, jarrah and glass sculpture The Whale Tail on the Esperance foreshore is just one of many examples of public art in the port town.

For, despite being known more for its beautiful beaches and proximity to Cape Le Grand National Park, Esperance has more than enough to tempt the arts and culture tourist.

Cindy’s gallery and workshop near Pink Lake not only displays the award-winning glass artist’s diverse range to its fullest advantage — but a small cafe offers a smaller but equally fine range of teas, cakes and coffees for the famished visitor.

And the former physical education teacher’s latest labour of love is converting used glass bottles into elegant hand sanitiser dispensers.

“I was looking for some bottles to make vessels for the cafe,” she says. “I went to the local recycling place and realised all these bottles were being wrapped up in black plastic and put into general recycling. I remember thinking, ‘Whoa! This is ridiculous. Look at how beautiful they are.’ That was the catalyst.”

An example of Cindy Poole’s glass artistry.
Camera IconAn example of Cindy Poole’s glass artistry. Credit: Will Yeoman/The West Australian

Cindy says the range of hand sanitiser dispensers is a “subplot” of her ‘Recycled’ by Cindy Poole range, which “utilises recovered glass bottles, cleaned, processed and transformed into functional and beautiful artworks with a local twist”.

As we walk around the gallery, she shows me some beautiful examples from the range, from functional tableware to luminous jewellery. My limited experience with the region notwithstanding, it all strikes me as very Esperance. That is, lots of sparkling, translucent blues and greens.

When we reach the table showcasing the glass hand sanitiser dispensers, I’m even more astonished at the variety of shapes and colours, the frosting and the discrete decalling. The bottles readily recall the exquisite jewellery I saw earlier. And they’re the star players in Cindy’s collaborative circular model, which strives to recruit consumers and businesses alike in the fight for a truly sustainable future.

A selection of Cindy Poole’s stunning hand sanitiser bottles, made from recycled glass.
Camera IconA selection of Cindy Poole’s stunning hand sanitiser bottles, made from recycled glass. Credit: Will Yeoman/The West Australian

You could say this “subplot” is a great example of “pivoting”. Did I really just write that much-overused word? Yes. Because Cindy uses it. And it’s justified.

“With the onset of the pandemic we had just this incredible shift in some of our sustainable behaviour,” she says. “We were being bombarded by all these single-use plastic pumps. And I saw an opportunity to take the home decor aspect of what I’d been doing and set out on a mission to replace the plastic bottles and pumps with refillable glass ones with steel pumps.”

Over the last two years or so, Cindy says she has built up good relationships with the local cafes and restaurants, as well as some in Perth. “I’ve proven how the model can work and built these supply chains,” she says, adding that she concentrates on bottles excempt from the container deposit scheme.

“Unfortunately I’ll never run out of bottles,” she adds ruefully.

fact file

  • Watch the accompanying video for a virtual tour of Cindy’s gallery and workshop, and to find out more about her glass art.
  • The Gallery is open 1-4pm, Monday-Saturday and other times by appointment.
  • It’s located at Lot 5, Longbottom Lane, Esperance (first on your left from Pink Lake Rd end of the lane).
  • cindypoole.com.au

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