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Soul Food

Food for thought from Laird Henderson

By Andrew Braithwaite

Ghost Pig will not be bound by our traditional definition of the word “toy,” nor by a spiral-cut ham. We see his spirit escaping his earthly vessel, and we can imagine – from his coquettish hooves and his snout proudly fixed towards the sky – that this hog knows better days are ahead. In Laird Henderson’s vision of toy heaven, all pigs are made of hand-casted resin and the porcine afterlife is an infinite plane of mud baths.

“I feel like a storyteller who can’t write, so this is my outlet,” says Henderson of Big Trubble, his new label of limited-edition handmade art toys. The 31-year-old studied sculpture at OCAD U and works out of a shared studio on Walnut Avenue – just two blocks from the abattoir on Tecumseth. “You may eat his flesh,” says Henderson, “but you cannot consume his soul.”

Collaborating on toys with Jamiyla Lowe, Shira Haberman and others, Henderson has brought to life characters as diverse as Leader, a mighty three-headed monster worshipped by monks in crimson robes, and Tiki Seymour, an aloha wearing sasquatch who has traded his mountain recluse for a Hawaiian beachfront. Each edition takes about two months to complete: first Henderson crafts a sculpture, then a silicone-rubber mould from which poured multiples ensue. Acrylic paint is applied, plus a satin varnish–finish.

Henderson says he draws inspiration from his childhood G.I. Joe collection: each action figure possessed a bare-bones biographical file on its packaging. The backstories that a young Laird imagined for those figurines mirror the narrative complexity he strives to achieve through Big Trubble. In the grown-up world of art toys, resin and paint speak louder than words.


Categories: Arts & Culture, Stuff

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