A second chance in the name of art

02:40, Jun 11 2014

Joanne Kilsby and John Dixon have a lot in common. Until recently they had never met, but now they are united by a shared commitment to up-cycling and recreating.

Kilsby has put the call out for artists to submit work for an exhibition titled Second Chances, which will be held in October at the Nelson Home and Garden Show at Saxton Stadium.

Kilsby, who has a background as a ceramic sculptor, has also renovated several homes in the past and got a thrill out of up-cycling many materials, giving them a new life in another form. She realised that this could also apply to works of art. The idea for an exhibition grew from this and tying it in with the Home and Garden Show seemed a natural partnership.

"I believe in re-using items and hate waste of any sort," says Kilsby. "So many things can be reused in a different way."

"I like to see the beauty in everyday objects and put them in a different context which enhances and raises their status from the everyday to a more arty status," says Kilsby. "I'm keen to see a shift in people's attitude towards second-hand items and am enjoying watching the new pieces from various artists emerging from old, previously discarded items."

Kilsby wants the exhibition to promote the concept of up-cycling, giving members of the public an appreciation of the artworks displayed and also encouraging them to "have a go". The public are also invited to pass on their unwanted resources to the artists who will re-use them.


"This exhibition is being held to promote the work of artists and craftspeople in the Nelson region who re-use items to create new objects," says Kilsby. "Some may be described as beautiful, some quirky and many as useful but they all represent the creativity, versatility and skill of their makers."

Kilsby distinguishes between re-cycling and up-cycling.

"Re-cycling items means they are broken down or melted, like plastic, glass and metal, to create new objects, whereas up-cycling resources still retains their original form, but they may be used in a different way or combined with others to create an object of beauty."

John Dixon loves blues music and is a dab hand at slide guitar. After checking out some guitars online made from hubcaps and other reused materials his friend suggested he "have a go". He did, with great success and is now hooked on the whole idea of up-cycling.

"When I tell friends they usually say "What?", not believing that it's possible, but it is and I love making them," says Dixon.

Dixon sources old hubcaps from wreckers, second hand native timber from mates, kitchen utensils from recycling centres, as well as op shops and things he comes across. He makes a three string slide guitar in about 24 hours, the only new components are the machine heads (tuners) and strings.

Up-cycled components include hinges, coins, door locks, salad spoons, garlic crushers, tea strainers, forks and many other kitchen utensils.

If making guitars from hubcaps is not innovative enough, how about making them from ceiling fans and cigar boxes?

"The idea for making guitars from cigar boxes came from the 1920s and 30s in the states when people couldn't afford to buy guitars, so they improvised," adds Dixon.

Kilsby is seeking other artists to submit work for the exhibition.

"I hope this exhibition will inspire others to give items a second chance," says Kilsby. "I have plans to make this a regular event."