Stephen Johnson’s work appears at first as a playful celebration of domestic ornament and kitsch. Yet beyond the ‘nice’ and ‘pretty’, his work uses objects void of physical use-value to consider our need for emotional function throughout our every day life.
His most recent pieces propose a surreal Alice in Wonderland world of escape. We see rabbits twice the size of dogs float amongst giant candies and mini hearts. On closer inspection, or perhaps imagination permitting, delicate narratives exist within his work as teddies make friends with ducks, mice share their dinner with dogs and happy snails ware pretty bows. He proposes an alternative world, free from negativity, a reality harmonious and utopian, safe and predictable.
By working with readymade objects he achieves a direct relationship with his interest in peoples need for domestic ornament and kitsch throughout their everyday lives. Such a fascination stems from his own experiences as a child growing up in a typically working class environment where such objects of desire would offer so many alternatives to the sometimes harsh realities of everyday life.
In many of his works he joins together ornaments, referencing his love of classic ornamentation like Baroque and Rococo for their ability to warp so many of realties facets like gravity, scale and rules of nature.
Each sculpture is constructed using second hand ornaments acquired from car boot sales, charity shops and personal donations. Such a mix of origins provides each sculpture with a bringing together of histories – a type of DNA unique to each piece.
Whether made from resin or brass, each sculpture is screwed securely together using steel pins and then held securely in place with either solder or glue. This process provides an extremely secure construction enabling an array of gravity defying structures.