Creative alumna uses recycled material to create models of wildlife

A purple background with pink circles on with an image of Anne wearing a facemask alongside two models of fish in the middle of the canvas.

Anne O’Brien has always had a passion for animals and the environment - even when first starting her studies at Loughborough in the 1980s.

an image of the torso wearing a blue shirt with illustrations of birds of them holding two models of birds.

In her first year of studies, Anne was studying Creative Design and Animal and Plant Ecology, but committed to studying Ecology in her second yearShe graduated in 1981. Anne went on to train to be a teacher and spent her early years after graduating working in field centres, schools, and in outreach for Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Seabird Centre. Anne has always been artistic and had a passion for creating models which have often centered around the themes of wildlife and animals. 

Her husband Mark was also an Ecologist in the year below Anne at Loughborough. Ten years ago, Mark got a job with Birdlife International which prompted the couple to move to Fiji a life-changing experience for Anne and Mark.  

After her move to Fiji, Anne volunteered at Nature Fiji-MareqetiViti, Fiji’s only domestic National Governmental Organisation, working to conserve and sustain Fiji’s unique natural heritage. Anne continued to take interest in creating models and started producing models of costumes and earrings to raise awareness of the island’s flora and fauna. As part of her volunteer work Anne used recycled cardboard and plastic to create models of fish for the Fiji Museum

People posing in a large cut out picture frame, one of the people is dressed in a birdsuit. 

The alumna takes her creativity wherever she goes. This year Anne travelled back to Scotland on a family visit and embarked on many creative projects during her stay. One of her projects included making life-sized Natewa swallowtail butterflies, a new species of butterfly recently found in Fiji. Anne also crafted six Dunbar Dragons whilst in Scotland which were all handstitched and made from recycled material and plastic she collected from broken creels and other debris that have been washed up on beaches.  

On modelling the dragons out of recycled materials, Anne commented: 

“These dragons are waiting for me to write their story to help raise awareness of plastic not so fantastic.” 

Later this year Anne will be returning to Natewa, Fiji alongside her volunteer organization. She will spend her time teaching Natewa women how to make models of the Natewa swallowtail to raise awareness of the species and to raise funds by selling the models to tourists which will be dedicated to help the community.  

You can check out Anne’s work on her Facebook page.