Made From Scraps: When Leftovers Become A Feast For the Eyes

By Laura Goldstein

The Pacific Northwest is not just a playground for tourists but has become a mecca for makers and artists environmentally attuned to creating without destroying the landscape. 

Made From Scraps is a new collection of art and sculpture by four Vancouver artists collaborating at SPACE Gallery. Curated by maker, Pat Christie and showcased at SwitzerCultCreative, the pieces evolved from or incorporate wood detritus scavenged from abandoned lumber yards and old construction sites.

Made From Scraps curator, Pat Christie and Discs made from 800-year-old Red Cedar off-cuts. Photo: SPACE Gallery

“I was really impressed with the creativity, vision and workmanship these pieces reflect,” says Renee Switzer, founder, SwitzerCultCreative. “Most of these artists are in- between newly discovered talent and established in their own careers.” Curated selections of the makers’ work are available to the consumer at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

When industrial designer and entrepreneur, Pat Christie graduated from Emily Carr University of Applied Arts + Design in Vancouver in 2011, he realized that he and many of his colleagues were thrust into the art world with little background in the marketing and business side of their chosen careers. The award-winning maker was made research associate at Living Labs, The Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship at Emily Carr to address these concerns and develop a think-tank environment for students.

In 2013 he co-founded Yew Woodshop and more recently, SPACE – a confluence of workshop and gallery in a 2,000-square-foot setting in which artists of diverse disciplines can incubate ideas and collaborate on projects. Made From Scraps is one such venture.

“My goal is to bring artists together from the community to innovate, and many of whom would never have had the opportunity to meet,” Christie explains. An accomplished carpenter and artist in his own right, Christie brings to fruition through fabrication, the Geo 5 Coffee Table, designed by Israeli craftsman, Eli Chissick and available at SwitzerCultCreative. In what was once a derelict police station at Main and Hastings, Christie was commissioned to design and build a sweeping, intricately constructed reception desk, all built with wood off-cuts and it’s the showpiece at 312Main Community Centre.  

Mexican painter and retail store proprietor, Pablo Zamudio. Photo: Courtesy Pablo Zamudio

Greeted with an exuberant “hola,” Mexican artist and entrepreneur, Pablo Zamudio works late into the night creating dazzling op-art paintings on reclaimed wood that literally vibrate with patterns and Day-Glo colours. 

As a kid growing up in Guadalajara, Zamudio was obsessed with art, music and skateboarding graphics. When he moved to Vancouver in 1997 he concentrated on graphic designed T-shirts and went on to open a lifestyle fashion retail store and gallery, El Kartel in Chinatown.

“I love optical illusions and all my paintings are based on a perfect grid. I discovered that everything in the universe is connected through numbers,” explains Zamudio, ” although at the same time, I embrace imperfection,” he laughs. ” The more you allow yourself to look at my paintings from different angles, the more things you suddenly see, and I think, learn about yourself.”

As a carpenter working on heritage home restorations by day, mixed media artist David Ullock finds old-growth fir scraps and conjures beguiling sculptures by night. His painted pieces resemble intricate 3D puzzle pieces in which animals, birds and people are re-imagined.

Mixed media artist David Ullock at work on one of his murals. Photo courtesy David Ullock

“I want to explore spatial dynamics by taking a two-dimensional plane and translating it into a three-dimensional object,” Ullock explains. Several of his current sculptures are made from 800-year-old Western Red Cedar, off-cuts gifted to him from Christie’s project of wood discs that trace the life of the ancient trees. 

Ullock created several vibrantly painted sculptures for Tall Tree Health in Vancouver and his spectacular murals on Commercial Drive and for the Vancouver Mural Festival are car and pedestrian show-stoppers!

Many of Jake Johnston’s clock sculptures immediately recall the abstract style of Art Deco, compelling the viewer to peer in closely, and not just to read the time. 

FocusFace and artist Jake (Tic-Toc) Johnston. Photo courtesy ake (Tic-Toc) Johnston

Growing up in Victoria, Johnston, (aka Tick-Toc) was profoundly influenced by the street art scene there and eventually studied graphic design at Pacific Art Academy.

“I was always interested in playing with form and shape and breaking apart things to explore balance, form and colour,” says Johnston.

“All my designs start as a sketch with pencil and paper- nothing is done digitally, he admits. And, I’ve really gotten into free-form pieces as well, using spray paints and masking techniques to lay on colour.”

In 2018, Johnston worked with Opus at a pop-up tent designing and painting skateboard decks and the year before, partnered with other artists to create a mural on the side of a bus.

It’s evident from all four artists that the camaraderie and mutual respect that  Made From Scraps has inspired among them is the foundation for more exhibitions in the future.