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Local & Community

Project UP: Upcycling Furniture

Project Up is an inspiring business in the heart of Merseyside, that offers young, unemployed people the opportunity to gain new skills, and a portfolio of work, in the art of upcycling furniture. Over the last couple of years the project has grown in success, now with pieces of furniture gaining worthy recognition. We caught up with Project Up founder Jon Hutchinson to learn more about the project, and about an exciting upcoming exhibition that will be showcasing some of their beautiful furniture.

Lies, Project UP and the Open Eye Gallery

Jon taking pictures when he was 4 with a friend

Sometimes kids lie.
Sometimes kids lie to protect their friends.
When I was 4 I lied. My parents asked me if my best friend and I had been using their camera. I said no.

Now as you can see from the above ‘evidence’ my photography skills lacked any real quality. The BMX helmet and plastic guitar were both outstanding props and the shoot was delivered with passion, but on the whole it was poorly executed.

Whilst a budding career as a photographer may have seemed inevitable at the time, it was one in woodwork that ultimately captured my attention, and on the 18th September I’ll have an opportunity to share my passion, and to also get a glimpse of what could have been.

Now, 25 years after my photos were taken, I have designed upcycled furniture to accompany award winning photographer Zanele Muhili’s exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.

After receiving a call from Thomas, the curator at the Gallery, who asked if we could design furniture that created a space to promote discussion, debate and reflection…we eventually decided on two different pieces.

planter table

The first is a low level coffee table with an integrated planter. Often in galleries the air can be stale with a restriction on natural light. We wanted to add some life into the space. The coffee table is made from reclaimed shipping pallets with matching benches to accompany them.

The second item we are creating is called ‘self-reflection’. Using a 1950s G Plan dresser, we refinished the shell using blackboard paint. The three angled mirrors give a perfect view of your own face, and the painted surface allows the opportunity to write your feelings about the artist’s work using chalk.

dressing table designed by jon

Our furniture will be installed to accompany Zanele Muhili’s exhibition that uses portrait photography to explore gender, race and sexuality, particularly in relation to South African society. Her work is going to be on display at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool’s iconic Albert Docks from 18th September until 29th November.

For more info about Project UP, the programme of upcycling workshops we are running across Merseyside and the furniture we create check out our website or holla at us onFacebook!

Jon Hutchinson

Jon Hutchinson

Community User

Jon is a founder of a Project Up, a small furniture upcycling business in the heart of Liverpool which offers young, unemployed people the opportunity to build up skills in furniture restoration and upcycling. This project launched in 2013, and continues to grow giving unwanted furniture a beautiful new lease of life.