Old ships from “new” materials — John Taylor

John Taylor

1954 —
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Sculptures from found objects

When you look at John Taylor’s ships, is hard to believe that they haven’t just been pulled from the ocean floor. (OK – you can believe it, but the patina is even more amazing once you realize that many of the parts that John uses to create these intricate sculptures are pulled from computer parts and treated to look like rusty metal…no easy feat with plastic.

John is a landscape architect by trade, and spends his evenings and weekends working on his ships in his garage, while he keeps an eye on his kids playing hockey in the drive.

His ships are based on actual vessels, from Civil War-era river boats to WWI battleships. He has been assembling his ship sculptures since 1997, after a visit home, where he came across a trunk of mementos belonging to his great-grandfather, who had served in the navy during the Spanish-American war. A photograph of the sailor standing on the deck of a ship fueled the spark and John’s fixation with ships began to pervade into his daily life.

Working with found objects collected from around his southern California surroundings, John works in his garage on evenings and weekends. His ships are interpretations rather than models, as John works from a particular feeling he may get and want to convey from an archived image found in a book or on the internet. His ships look as if they have been buried or under water for half a century, but their near-disintegrated appearance showcase his ability to fearlessly manipulate detritus, and also display a well thought out methodology. Year after year, John’s work continues to increase in complexity and strength, resulting in amazing pieces that appeal to a wide variety of audiences.

“There is only one family ancestor that I resemble, and in the photograph I have of him he wears the military cap and uniform of the Spanish-American War. I never felt as though I belonged to this time, and I still feel somewhat homeless in it. I only fell into making ships by accident, and in a short time I realized I had hit the vein I had always been seeking.”

(Information courtesy of Garde Rail Gallery. Photos © Copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography & Links:

Collections – Microsoft Art Collections

Publications – August 2004—Coast Magazine

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Cali-Zona, Here We Come,” KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 2007.

“American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies” by Florence Laffal and Julius Laffal, 2003.

“Raw Vision Outsider Art Sourcebook”  Raw Vision, Ltd., 2002.

Garde Rail Gallery