52 Artists #4: Mick Sheridan

gorilla in a bus stop

Mick Sheridan claims he’s ‘no artist’. I beg to differ.

hand stitching wool polka dot upholstery

Upholsterer and Artist, Mick Sheridan makes waiting more fun

He admits to being a furniture upholsterer (in rural Wales)… AND he enjoys an alter-ego as the ‘Guerrilla Upholsterer’. He secretly upholsters public seating areas that he thinks could be made more comfortable – from bus stop benches to bird watchers’ hides. And he wears a gorilla mask while doing it.

gorilla waiting at bus stop

‘Gorillaly’ attired, upholsterer secretly furnishes bus stops with comfortable seating

Here’s a video in which BBC News Magazine interviewed Mr Sheridan in November, 2013, where he tells how it all began:

I was passing a bus stop one day, and I saw this old lady …she was perched on this kind of tiny little metal, sloped, angled seat …and I just thought: that looks so undignified somehow.  – Mick Sheridan

chair with monster toy

Chair at a bus stop near Caio, Carmarthenshire – rescued from a ‘skip’ and covered in a 70s patchwork print, embellished with ‘an excellent monster thing’

excellent monster thing

Each chair is adorned with a small toy in fitting with a theme conceived according to its character

I love this! It’s fun, and it’s my kind of weird. Most of all it’s a story about human kindness. And recycling – he uses scraps from his upholstery shop to make the cushions and seats.

cushions soften a bus stop bench

Bus Stop cushion at Llangadog – after a year the original cushion had become dirty and sun bleached so Mick thought he’d better replace it with a new one.

It also makes me think of how we – you and I and anyone who enjoys handwork – imbue our creations with a piece of ourselves. Sometimes it’s deep and heart-worthy. Other times it’s a light brushing-on of character.

Take the weight off your feet -

Each chair wears a tag with the invitation “Take the weight off your feet”

Either way you are making a profound difference – whether you know it or not.

I contacted Mick about including him in the 52 Artists Project, told him he had inspired me to consider doing something similar in my neighborhood. I suggested he had ‘started a movement’. Delighted to oblige, he replied:

It’s always a surprise to me how much the guerrilla upholstery project seems to strike a chord with people and I’m always flattered by people’s positive comments. Please do feel free to take up the mantle there in the US, a guerrilla upholstery movement probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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About the Author

CarlaHey there! I'm Carla Pyle. I love the stories that our furniture tells. For me a picture of my Granddaddy Milton's green upholstered arm chair brings to mind the vivid rhymes & colors of 'The Cat in the Hat' and his soft low voice in the telling. I love too that there is always an element of nature in furniture - the warm-toned curving grain of a walnut leg or the reflection of life in a mid-century chrome piece. The best part of teaching & sharing natural upholstery is that it ties all of these things together. Stories - of individual experience and of the planet - help us build happy & healthy homes.View all posts by Carla →

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