Utilising Everyday Objects

Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak
John Berger

Art by Christoph Niemann

John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ is one of those books that a creative should have on their book shelf. Berger explains that seeing helps us establish our place in the world. Then we go on to explain that world with words and images. As artists and writers it is good practice to take the time to see the everyday things that often go unnoticed.

The work of Christoph Nieman is just one example of using everyday items to create drawings. I remember I used to get children to trace their hands and then draw characters on the top of each finger. They loved to create quite distinct gangs and then write stories about their good or bad deeds. Invariably they created complex language and, perhaps most importantly, had fun.

The work of Brock Davis is intriguing and Ecuadorian artist Javier Perez is another imaginative artist who combines everyday objects with simple illustrations to create a series of imaginative and unexpected composite drawings.

Amber Wheeler took simple photos of her baby son dressed in white on a white background and drew in designs with a basic computer illustration program. They put her baby boy everywhere from the open road or a hot air balloon to the final frontier of space. Portuguese artist Victor Nunes creates amusing and playful drawings using just a black pen and bits of everyday objects. Scissors become a bicycle, lettuce turns into a dress and pop corn transforms into an elephant’s head – nothing is impossible with a wild imagination.

French artist Gilbert Legrand

Personally I adore the playful work of French artist Gilbert Legrand. With a creative eye, the casual observer can espy characters or faces in the everyday objects all around us. Legrand takes paints and modifyies totally mundane objects turning them into cute characters and giving them new life.

Legrand lets his active imagination soar by painting small details onto these everyday objects to help us see them the way he does. With the addition of a face and maybe some arms and legs, a paintbrush can become a mangled fox, a hinge can become a shady salesman, and a juicer becomes a woman emerging from a pool. Hopefully, Legrand’s wildly imaginative creations will help you find the fun characters hidden all around you!

Andrew Hillman obsessively makes patterns out of everyday objects. Everything from breakfast cereal to office supplies finds its place in these tightly controlled symmetrical layouts that take hours to measure, cut, and arrange.

So! Stop gawking at this screen, get yourself outside, find some flotsam and jetsom and sit with it for awhile. Have a conversation with what you have found! Listen for its voice and then, like this participant who travelled with me, become a translator.

Strange fruit, pencils suspended, waiting

Seeds of ideas swaying, falling to rot beneath

Unless, unless I listen, take hold

Allow a presence to envelop me

It is not a fiend, a madness but a gift

Hanging fruitful before me, ripe for the plucking

Go with it my soul urges, yes, yes my fingers answer

But where will it take me? Where will I go from here?

Deep within the soil of imagination and sprout anew

Strange fruit, pencils suspended, waiting

Seeds of ideas and desire swaying

Wishing not to fall and rot beneath

But to come home and be loved, unpackaged

Ripen my hands to perfection

by Margaret Whittle

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