Artists who use ordinary things to make extra-ordinary things

I found this quote today:

The banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual? […] How are we to speak of these common things, how to track them down, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they are mired, how to give them meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what it is, who we are.

Georges Perec, The Infra-ordinary

My dream man - he likes the ordinary AND cats

Perec is my dream man – he likes the ordinary AND cats

This got me thinking about artists who have made extra-ordinary art out of ordinary things. Firstly, I came across Rebecca Murtaugh who once covered her bedroom with post-it notes, yellow for boring objects and pink for important ones. She obviously likes her bed. Post-it notes are, I discover from my googling, a well-used art material, mostly for mosaics.

What a lovely pink duvet

What a lovely pink duvet

From this, I was drawn to a wonderful artist called Monika Grzymala. She is someone who draws in three dimensions using tape, wire, paper or just anything linear. She draws lines and creates beautiful semi-architectural, semi-pictorial spaces with them. I find her creations really rather beautiful. This is novel way of drawing. I would like to try this.

Miles and Miles of Sticky Tape - no, that isn't my comment its the real title

Miles and Miles of Sticky Tape – no, that isn’t my comment its the real title

Brian Dettmer is someone who likes to cut up books to create masterpieces of intricate sculpture. This is one way that books prove yet again to be better than kindles. You can’t do this with a kindle.

This just wouldn't happen in my house

This just wouldn’t happen in my house

Apparently, the Internet seems to indicate, there is a whole sub-genre of ‘ordinary objects art’ (not officially a genre) called ‘toast art’. Arne Felix Magold is amongst the forerunners of this branch of art.



I really like the work of floppy disk artist, Nick Gentry. He is interested in obsolete media and sees himself as a social commentator through his art. His portraits are both clever and avoid the cliched look of ‘portraits made from recycled material’. They have a haunting impact on me.

Don't throw those disks away

Don’t throw those disks away

Next, I came across Pipilotti Rist‘s big pants chandelier. There’s not a lot to say about this, the picture speaks volumes. There is a use for old knickers and this is it.

Light-up-the-night Pants

Light-up-the-night Pants

What could I use then to be original and interesting? Answers on a postcard please.


Wikipedia on Post-it Note Art [last accessed 19 June 2013]

Wikipedia on Nick Gentry, [last accessed 19 June 2013]

Nick Gentry’s website,[last accessed 19 June 2013]

‘This week in pictures: 27 November 2009’ Telegraph [last accessed 19 June 2013]

Exhibitions at The Drawing Room, Monika Grzymala [last accessed 19 June 2013]

Brian Dettmer’s website, [last accessed 19 June 2013]

Pipilotti Rist’s website, [last accessed 19 June 2013]


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