Project pre­serves the past one piece at a time

Lo­cal artist mak­ing fur­ni­ture out of found or dis­posed of ob­jects

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - JAMES WELLS STAFF RE­PORTER

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

JAMES WELLS/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

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.

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