Today I was introduced to the work of Jonathan Brilliant and I am ready to pack in my brushes and head to the coffee shop. Brilliant makes his astounding installation pieces from coffee stir sticks, specifically the ones he finds at Starbucks – the seven inch birch ones – which apparently have a superior tinsile strength, bend and weave-ability to other stir sticks.
He starts simply enough by intertwining the sticks and then continues in a manner of weaving. No glue or other adhesive is used. He creates them in a site-specific space usually working 10 to 12 hours a day. The pieces are not permanent. They are there for the duration of the exhibition or less, if the sticks decide they have had enough.
But there are many sides to Jonathan Brilliant, and I like all of them. Here are some of his rust drawings. Evidently as he is out and about, or walking from his studio to the coffee shop, he finds all sorts of things to drag back to the studio. One time he found a bunch of frozen bolts that he thought he would weld together for a sculpture, but instead ended up creating drawings with them by placing them on paper and then watering them down. Simple yet effective.
As he himself says, he is the Andy Goldsworthy of the coffee shop. His work is process oriented, created from found objects, site-specific and largely ephemeral. If you like this work, you should see what he does with artificial sweetener.