Extraordinary the ordinary

“transform the ordinary into artworks that are truly extraordinary” – V&A 

For the love of crafting, numbers of artists and designers have turned everyday objects into spectacular arts. Some capture the viewers’ attention immediately. Others send a hidden beauty under the ordinary skin which intrigues audiences to question themselves as they look closer. On this piece of writing, we will discuss about the material and the process behind the artist works

Different from other artists design thinking, London-based sculptor Susan Collis (Artspace 2013) approaches her design with different philosophies. Her view towards design are to celebrate traditional art methods, display object’s details and its preciousness rather than its function. Material value is based on how it is executed on the details of the object.

The oyster’s our world, 2004

Material value in ‘The Oyster’s our world, 2004’ artwork is an example of designs that persuasively provoke people’s curiosity in questioning everyday objects. There is nothing special about this ordinary stepladder that we would possibly glance at it once. Audience may question ‘What is it doing here in the exhibition? Or what is so special about it?’. Collis has combined contrasting materials in an unexpected way; white paint splashes, which are pearls, opals, and diamonds, that are distinguish from the bold dark wooden stepladder (Seventeen Galary, 2014 & Artspace, 2013). From afar the artwork may seem dull, however, when seen at a closer distance, it is beautiful and valuable. It is very inviting because Collis takes time to ensure the materials are treated carefully to create beautiful finishes (Jones 2014, 1). The stepladder evokes curiosity through its beauty and existence within the display space which make audiences appreciate the object by spending time examining it.

Unlike how the gallery set up for ‘The oyster’s our world’, Collin turns her manufacturing studio into a performance space. The ‘secret’ mentioned in one of Collin’s quote: “Production is art’s dirty secret” (Artspace 2013) is explained in her Seventeen Art Gallery exhibition (Collin’s 2008). Laundry bags are the main feature in the art performance space. Projects such as On Vacation and Sweat are some ordinary laundry bags that have become valuable art objects. The production of the bags are composed of a group of artists who draw mimic details on the laundry bags that produces the aesthetic details. It is a time consuming projects, however, this is a reflection of what she meant by ‘dirty’.  This “dirty secret” challenges the nature of art’s beauty as it’s value is not about what she ends up with as a final result, but the that the process of making that makes it valuable. (Jones 2014, 2).

On Vacation, 2008

Using the same design thinking, a Japanese artist, Yoshihiro Suda, using mimic details from natural plants to create art. He is listed as one of the artists that craft the extraordinary out of an ordinary thing. His Realism life-size flowers and weeds sculptors were carved out of painted wood that look realistic than ever. We wouldn’t know they are non-living artworks until we look closer  (Loock 2009). They produce is a “wow factor” coming from things that are tiny and easy to miss. At first, we wouldn’t even notice its existence, since they are too small. He then carefully placed these tiny weeds into overlooked and unusual place in the exhibition. For example, next to a door frame or behind a radiator, where usually plants don’t live or grow from. These small and little touch can change the entire viewers thinking, question like ‘why he so bother doing this’. Clearly, this is a double surprise, placing the nature into the art in a fascinating way and the process of making this to happen (Hauser 2015).

Weed control sculpture
Weed control sculpture

Here life is interrupted so that you may study the beauty of life that has been arrested by art.” – D’AMELIO TERRAS

In conclusion, detail is the main element in Collis design theory, things don’t need to be something that big to attract the viewers’ eyes. We can’t capture everything in one go, the picture is too wide. We forgot what is essential and we overlooking something. What we should do is narrow down the view to one single detail so that we can perceive and enjoy its beauty. We don’t simply just look at art, what we do is understand art under critically analyze art. Art is notmeant to be limited, instead of mass production, art is more about one of a kind and random patterns and details. The material chosen can define the value of the objects in the end, either it is coming from ordinary or beautify objects.

“To simply look will not do. They demand scrutiny.” – D’AMELIO TERRAS