October 8, 2013 12:55 pm
When she was in her late 40s, Jane Perkins quit a career in nursing and decided to go to art school. She started making “memory brooches,” or jewelry composed of friends’ old childhood toys, keepsakes or scraps.
She loved the “unexpected” nature of the medium, and in 2008 began creating replicas of famous works of art using random, small objects such as toys, beads and buttons, most of which she recovered from junk shops, garage sales or friends who recently cleaned out a closet or drawer.
In her studio in Devon, England, she uses the materials “as found” and does not alter the plastic’s color or shape. “My work needs to be viewed in two ways,” she said in an email. ”From a distance, to recognize the whole image, and close up, to identify the materials.”
Her first work, The Queen, was a portrait:
Soon, Einstein followed:
Following the portraits, she moved on to the classics.
The plastic works well to capture the feel of certain artists’ style, she soon learned, especially Van Gogh and Picasso. “The 3D nature of Van Gogh’s thickly applied paint, which he squirted straight from the tube, lends itself perfectly to re-interpretation using found materials,” she said.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.