The Highams Park Festival is showcasing an array of exhibitions and events curated by a range of artists across the area this week.

The theme of this year's festival is Home and there will be a yarn bob trail, where creative knits and pom poms will be displayed in shop windows and on trees and street furniture.

The Wood Street Wall artists, famous for their Owl On River Walk, will be creating a work of art to transform the boards around the building site at the back of the local Tesco.

Artist and sculptor Michelle Reader, who lives in Highams Park, is displaying three of her sculptures in Hale End Library, in Castle Avenue, throughout the festival and for a few weeks afterwards. There will be a life-size postman made from junk mail, a portrait sculpture of a 10-year-old girl and a giant bumble bee made from materials including a gas mask, umbrella, plastic cutlery and a yellow bucket.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 4, she was also in Lark's Wood, where she ran a workshop building a giant nest out of bicycle wheels, sticks, electrical cables and other found materials. The nest will stay in the woods for the duration of the festival.

The 41-year-old explains how sculpting gives her work an extra dimension and why she finds inspiration through used materials…

Can you tell readers a bit about your work?

I like to make figurative sculptures of people, animals, plants, vehicles or buildings, which are made from everyday objects that are often discarded. The materials used in each piece tell a story, for instance the postman made from junk mail is a comment on the excess advertising that comes through our letterboxes. Also, Oriana, the portrait sculpture of a ten year old girl, was made from her family's recycling so is an insight into her life. You can see what food she eats, the wrapping paper from a recent birthday, and her handwriting on the scraps of paper I've used for her skin.

Why do recycled sculptures intrigue you?

I love using found objects as inspiration and find them a rich material with a multitude of textures, colours, shapes and stories. Recognising objects within a sculpture gives an extra dimension to the work, and the recognition of something familiar draws people in for a closer look.

What is your favourite sculpture that you have made?

My favourite is a life size jaguar I was commissioned to make for BskyB as part of their Rainforest campaign. I went to their recycling warehouse near Coventry to pick out materials to make it with, including satellite dishes, remote controls, metal brackets and electrical cable.

Is your work always made with household items or objects found in charity shops and reclamation yards?

Always from some kind of found material. What I use for each sculpture will depend on what it is and what I'm making it for. For instance, when I've made sculptures in shopping centres as part of an event I used the materials from their skips, or if it's a commission for a business I'll often use materials relevant to them.

Is being an artist your day job or is this your hobby?

It is my day job. My work consists of a mix of commissions and running recycled art workshops in schools or at events.

I also read you create props, sculptures and models for theatre, product launches, events and photo shoots?

I'm often approached by PR companies to create sculptures or installations for their clients. I made a five metre tall sculpture of Big Ben using wheat for Shredded Wheat and a food waste picnic for Ocado.

How long does it take to make a sculpture?

It depends on the size and materials I'm using. The junk mail postman took me about a week, the bumble bee a couple of weeks and the jaguar about a month.

When did your passion for art and sculpture begin?

At school I loved drawing and making things out of clay.

Where did you study?

I did my BA in Fine Art at De Montfort University, in Leicester, graduating in 1997. I moved to London in 2002 to do an MA in Scenography (design for performance) at Central St Martins, which I completed in 2003.

What's next for you after the festival- any other exhibitions?

We are having an open studio event at our studios in Walthamstow on the weekend of October 1 and 2. The exhibition will run from 12pm until 6pm each day at Blackhorse Lane Studios, in Higham Mill and there will be 28 artists in the building and a silent auction of work in the corridors.

Highams Park Festival, until Sunday, September 11. Details: #HPFest

By Rachel Russell