Maaike Pullar is the crazy forager lady of the inner west of Sydney. You may find her swimming in the dumpster outside your apartment block, knee deep in detritus or scavenging derelict bench tops from the freshly evicted heroin dive next door to you. From these unloved chair frames, wrecks of lounges and grime entrenched scaffolds Maaike performs her magic. Furniture resurrection.
The trend du jour of the recycling world is the term upcycling: rather than simply restoring a piece of furniture to its former glory, something is created which is entirely new and of greater worth both artistically and technically. Upcycling is specific to a new function being imposed on an object through assemblage, deconstruction or modifications.
“salvaged goods to art just squeezes in as upcycling, but while I've always thought of my chairs as a canvas, ultimately I want them to still have that function, as a chair, which is why I choose the term resurrection over anything else.”
Maaike’s work transcends the basic repair and re use ethos, finding an artistic voice and definitive style in her practice. “Each new find determines its own identity, demanding the right fabric, the right imagery and the application of a new skin. I may work on commission but I create art”. Maaike’s work has developed a cult following in the villages of Sydney recently, particularly with her text and graphic based works. Frequently splicing choice words or phrases into her furniture, Pullar evokes a sense of ownership to place and time which acts as a powerful bond between the furniture and the household it finds a place in. Past examples of work have used the names of Sydney suburbs, tea towel snippets of whimsical phrases and nostalgic vocabulary. Something as simple as the words tea time on a panel of one of Pullar’s chairs or the suburb names Darlinghurst or Marrickville spliced into an arm piece evoke memories and experiences which are unique to its owner and fuse a strong relationship between object and person.
Not always textual, a common theme in Pullar's work is a gentle subversion of icons and tradition, as if testing our recognition and fealty to deconstructed ideals and mismatched expectations. Pullar spent her early twenties living in Mexico and this is resplendent in her works, seen in her vibrant use of colour and large canvases of Mexican packaging. The evocation of memory make Pullar’s work a desirable foreign trinket; as an impartation of her own personal experiences and as a representation of exoticism.
So next time you are trawling the streets of Sydney and you see what appears to be a woman possessed, rifling through a strangers garbage, trying to extricate a bulky seventies coffee table, give her a hand. She might just turn it into spectacular.
For all things Maaike, including her very lovely blog visit:
all images copyright of Greta Kennedy 2011.