With all the exploration of recycled materials in green design these days, the work of artist Chris Gilmour seems like a logical and amusing next step in terms of upcycling and eco-friendly art processes. Gilmour, an English artist based in Italy, re-creates objects and machines from our everyday lives using only packing cardboard and glue. Industrial cardboard is typically used only once for shipping materials and then wastefully discarded. Often adorned with logos and other graphics, the remnants of the material’s former use is an aspect that Gilmour wryly incorporates into his sculptural work, with an ironic wink to the viewer.

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Built with stunning detail, Gilmour’s life-size replicas and sculptures leave one gazing at the sheer artistry of his work and contemplating the nature of materials in general. The dedicated energy required to cut and paste all of the intricate and exact parts of a replica Fiat 500 engine, for example, cleverly highlights the energy required to create the real thing. Whereas a car of the usual metal materials might go unnoticed by a passerby, a car constructed of cardboard leaves even the technically un-savvy reveling in its design.

Not all of Gilmour’s cardboard creations are life-sized intricacies. The artist also has a sense of humour about his medium, using cigarette and maxi-pad boxes to make little logo-covered churches in a wry statement about consumer dependency. In totality, Gilmour’s pieces force the viewer to confront the everyday objects in one’s life and our relationship to them with a kind of hilarious grace. Gilmour’s work is exhibited by Perugia Artecontemporanea in Padua, Italy.

+ Chris Gilmour