Fortunately for the artists of Jerusalem, not everyone needs to be famous or much in demand, in order to make a modest living, and to put bread on the table. There are all kinds of side jobs that can bring a living. Some folks teach, and some work in community centers, and some illustrate pamphlets, and some beautify the city. I am most enchanted by the many efforts to beautify the city. There are projects that come and go, and are forgotten after a while. I particularly enjoyed the many lions that were spread all over the city, on street corners and public plazas. The lion is the symbol of Jerusalem. It seemed, when they first appeared, that they would be around for a long time, but they too, did not last for too long. I imagine that those that have been saved will be very expensive collectors items one of these days. I have no idea where they are now, though I managed to photograph quite a few, and I will post some of the pictures one of these days.


What I did want to post today, were some pictures of the recycle bins that were placed around the city some years back. They were meant primarily for the recycling of paper, and people are asked to put nothing in them except old newspapers and magazines, and writing paper, etc. And these receptacles were followed by something truly unique to our culture, the ‘repository for holy pages’, about which I will write in my next post.


When these bins first found themselves on the streets of our city, they provoked quite an argument. Because there were those that claimed that the process of recycling was more expensive than producing the paper in the old fashioned way. But we, like many people in other parts of the western world, wanted the feeling that we were doing something to protect our environment… even if that something wasn’t completely logical, and those in favor of the recycling had their way.


And sure enough, there were secondary advantages to the project. For someone on the city council noticed that the bins were quite unattractive; green blots that appeared on many a street, and it was decided to invite any of the city’s artists to take part in the beautifying of these bins. And that they did. There were quite a few who stepped forward to take advantage of the opportunity. All over the city, the bins were adorned with some very interesting pictures.


It wasn’t at all what I expected. The many different artists who got a commission, offered a wide variety of work, some of which was naïve in character, some of which related to the purpose of the bins… and some of which had a humorous approach which everyone could enjoy. I have many more examples than those I post today… and for all I know, there is a similarity between what we have here, and what is found in other cities of the world. I don’t know, because I haven’t traveled outside of the country for many years, already. But I thought it might interest you, and so here it is.


46 responses to “recycling

  1. Ahaaa These are just wonderful and I love the idea that half a world away from Jerusalem, artists are doing exactly the same thing in Comox, a pretty little city in Canada. My sister was one of those artists you mention, who was commissioned to do a design for one of the bins, We were both enchanted by the idea. And if one can be enchanted twice … well your post has done that for us. Thanks Shimon, for another ray of sunshine!

    • So glad to hear that this beautiful idea is sprouting in a number of places. Best wishes to both your sister and yourself, Nikki, and for a winter warm in love, and filled with joy.

  2. I like the first one and the one with books on it best. We don’t have anything like that here though I’ve seen recycling trucks (that collect from small tubs outside our house once a week) with paintings on the side…I’ll try to get a photo one day.

    • I like the idea of painted recycling trucks, Annie. And yes, it is interesting to see all the different illustrations on the bins. I suppose they represent the wide variety of what people associate with paper. Thank you for your comment.

  3. There are many similar projects here in the UK Shimon. I think they add a great deal and if a dumpster can bring a smile to your face, that’s no bad thing.

  4. How wonderful to live in a city that appreciates artists and allows them to display their work in public! Thanks for sharing this, Shimon.

    • Yes, Ruth. Actually, there are always pleasures… and always disadvantages. These days, they are building an extension to the inner city tram right by my house, and it’s caused a lot of noise and a bit of a mess too. But word is, that transportation will be very easy after they’re finished. I suppose we have to grin and bear it.

  5. I haven’t seen art projects associated with recycling bins (which is a wonderful idea). My favorite is the second one. Not sure why – maybe it’s simply the color combinations. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’ve noticed that just as the tastes of the artists differ, so many of my fellow Jerusalemites favor different illustrations. How much nicer it is to have each one painted differently… better than the best that would be uniform. Glad you enjoyed these, Frank.

  6. What a great idea. This does make those bins look a lot nicer.

  7. Nice post. Hoping that people actually use the bins.

  8. What a wonderful idea. Public art is good for the soul (and perhaps the environment : ) .

  9. What a brilliant idea, to make something ugly attractive. I like them all but love the first two.
    I would love to see more, and the lions!
    We have the same thing here, lots of ugly bins….you’ve given me an idea, I may paint mine and my neighbours if they would like me too….you may have started something big here! I’ll keep you posted.xxxxx

    • I like the idea that this might branch out and sprout in other places, Dina. And I would love to see pictures if you actually do that in your town. How wonderful! In the next chapter we will examine a variation of recycling which I think will interest you too. Best wishes.

  10. This is so beautiful for a city, fascinated me all! Thank you dear Shimon. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, love, nia

    • So glad you liked it Nia, and thank you for your good wishes and blessings Actually, we don’t celebrate Christmas here, and our New year started a couple of months ago… but when I hear of other people celebrating a holiday, I always feel joy and happiness with them. May this be a beautiful holiday for you, my friend.

  11. Dear Shimon,
    I think making recycle bins into works of art is an excellent idea! Thank you for sharing your photos with us. I saw painted bins in Istanbul, especially down by their waterfront, and they certainly caught my eye.

    • How wonderful that they have this in Istanbul too. They are a neighbor of ours, and many of my friends have visited there, but I have never had the pleasure. Still, I have heard of many wonderful things there. Thank you for your comment, Naomi, and best wishes for a beautiful holiday.

  12. How wonderful, Shimon. Thank you for sharing the creativity and color! How nice to live in a place where they flourish…inspiring reminder that we can beautify our lives so easily, if we’re willing to make the effort.

    • Thank you very much, Catherine. Yes, it makes me very happy to live in a place I love, though there are always ups and downs. Right now, the city is working on extending the tram, and it is making a lot of noise and messy too. But I suppose we will appreciate it when it’s done. A very happy Christmas to you and yours.

  13. I never liked graffity art, because the artists are not brave enough to identify themselves … they should present their art and be proud of it … copyright or not … I consider myself a poetry graffity artist, proud of it … but never claim a copyright to any of my writings … life is too short to claim and disclaim and own and disown … am I wrong, what do you think, my friend Shimon … Love, cat.

    • How nice to see you and get your comment, my dear cat. I think you should reconsider your attitude towards graffiti. I agree, that sometimes it’s just a vile comment or a dirty word, but there are some fine artists out there, whose very style is their signature, not to speak of those who have a very characteristic signature, that can usually be seen from afar. As for poetry, I think that deserves a certain copyright as well, if just that when someone copies it, he or she should mention who first originated the lines. But some say that the most beautiful presents are given anonymously… so I am open on that. Best wishes for a very happy holiday. May it bring you joy and happiness.

  14. What a delightful and fun way to display art and take the glum look out of recycling receptacles.

    A slightly belated but good wishes for Chanukah.

    • Thank you very much, Menhir, and best wishes to you for a very happy Christmas, to you and yours. And a sweet new year, with good health, happiness, and the warmth of loving friends.

  15. Your art is contagious! Thanks for sharing your joy with us. Blessings to you!

    • Thank you very much, for your kind words and your good wishes. It is a pleasure getting to know you, and Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, and a beautiful new year.

  16. I enjoyed looking at these visually attractive bins, but there was a part of me that wished to know the names of the streets (I know that it would be meaningsless to most readers) and then I could imagine myself walking down the street.

    • I can well understand your homesickness for the streets of Jerusalem, Rachel. Usually, I remember the circumstances of photographs I’ve taken… but since these were over a period of time, and each one a separate occasion, bound together by a common thread, I’ve forgotten on which street most of them were taken. But I do remember the rabbit was found on hasatat street, next to a grocery… and it was close to evening, so the colors were a bit weak… but I didn’t want to miss that one, and took it anyway. Glad to hear from you.

  17. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is great, Shimon – artists commissioned to beautify the city, points to me to a soulful city. I like this happens very much.

    You know, whenever I hear ‘Jerusalem’ I think of Christ, & cannot help but picture dusty old towns like in the movies, but your pictures are always beautiful, & of a clean city. I love the look of where you live.

    Shimon, you’ve had a huge year – with your mother’s passing – and I wish you the best in 2013 : you know, health, prosperity. Merry Christmas, Shimon. I am ready to enjoy another year of your posts. 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. I know that our city has certain negative aspects to it, Noeleen. But I consider myself very luck to have lived my life here, and I love it very much. Thank you very much for your good wishes. You’re right, the last year has been very full, but there’s been more good than bad. My best wishes to you too, for a very good year ahead.

  18. the price of recycling might be more than the price of new paper. but some things are not possible to buy, no matter how much money you have. such as the price of a cleaner planet once we have gone too far trashing it up. and the price of certain pieces of most desirable art. i hope to visit your wonderful city some time.

    • In principle, I think that recycling is the right way to go. But things are changing very quickly in our world today, and some of the projects to ‘better the world’ seem very impractical to me, and designed more to promote good feelings than to really affect our environment. In Tel Aviv, there was an experiment to use garbage to create a sculptured park that was very successful and has added long term advantage to the city as well as beauty. But I agree that cost is not the only consideration. I do hope that you will one day visit our city, and it will be a great pleasure for me to be your guide here.

  19. Looking like the artist does gives us a new perspective on what we believed we already knew and were bored by.So new vistas appear.

    • Yes, I agree with you that the artist sometimes gives us the opportunity to examine familiar things in a new way. Of course, only a very few artists have universal appeal. But most of us can find some artists who speak directly to us.

  20. Thank you so much,Kathryn.

  21. An inviting niche…nicely filled.

  22. What a wonderful initiative. It is great to see these receptacles being adorned in such a colourful way.

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