Project preserves the past one piece at a time
Local artist making furniture out of found or disposed of objects
As if he were rummaging through a box full of Lego pieces, local artist Paul Johnston is taking found or disposed of objects and re-purposing them into fully usable furniture.
Johnston’s pieces are on display in the Steelbox Art Lab at the Stratford YMCA parking lot, where he hopes people will share in the enjoyment of this interactive installation.
What Johnston has done is set up what looks to be a little living room inside of the shipping container, showing how simple and creative re-purposed items can be, while also providing furniture in a home.
“I’m just trying to get people to understand that everything you own, it doesn’t matter if it’s a pair of socks or some treasure, maybe it’s your grandmothers? You kind of paint a picture of the emotions and the memories,” Johnston said. “Every time you touch that thing or pick up that pair of socks they mean one thing to you, but at some point they might belong to somebody else. At that point, all of that (past) is gone, and whatever they (the new owner) attach to it is new and different.”
Comparing his installation to the small community libraries located throughout the city that encourage taking a book and leaving a book, Johnston hopes to encourage a trinket exchange with his exhibit in the same style.
“I want people to show up and leave things,” he said. “That’s the whole thing. I’ve said everybody bring a trinket, a chachka, an ornament or a book, bring down something you can part with, write a little post-it note, then I stick it up on the board and then over the weekend people will drop things off or pick things up and take the post-it note.”
The significance of the note is to write down the history or a memory that comes attached with the trinket. This way, the memories of Johnston’s re-purposed furniture pieces and the trinkets donated are preserved and carried on through the next person who takes possession.
The passion for creating repurposed items and works of art is what Johnston has on display, but the message he wishes to get across is to not be so quick to throw items away. They have a past, they have value, and they can be reused for other purposes.
To get his point across, Johnston created a hypothetical story about a wrench used in one of his pieces of furniture.
“This wrench, some guy in the 1930s was using this wrench one day while having a fight with his wife or whatever, (a memory) that’s almost attached to that item. I’ll never know that.”
Johnston has been building found object furniture and sculptures for 30 years. With the time he’s dedicated to his passion, he encourages community members to attend the display and partake in this weekend’s installation.
Johnston’s display continues Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
To learn more about Johnston and his past and future projects, visit brokencircusblog.wordpress.com.
I’m just trying to get people to understand that everything you own, it doesn’t matter if it’s a pair of socks or some treasure, maybe it’s your grandmothers? You kind of paint a picture of the emotions and the memories.” Paul Johnston
Paul Johnston is surrounded by re-purposed furniture that he created during the set up of his installation at the Steelbox Art Lab in the YMCA parking lot.