‘Beautiful’ wasn’t what came to mind when I first laid eyes on Robert Bradford’s recycled toy sculptures. Amazing? Indeed. Complex? Without a doubt. Oddball? Certainly. But that’s exactly the expected result when one attempts to “glue, stick and screw” thousands of found toys into new “beings or species.”
Bradford, a father of two, who, as reported in a Mail Online article, “got so sick of discarding his kids’ unwanted toys,” graduated from the Royal College of Art with a MA in film. His segue into sculptural arts was mainly self-taught after one day attempting to accomplish one of the most dreaded of parental tasks: sifting through boxes filled with outgrown and discarded toys.
From this initial booty, Bradford modeled a small dog which led to various commissions of pets constructed from plastic and plush toys bought at garage sales. Unsatisfied with the small scale, Bradford tackled larger pieces, eventually completing two life-sized sculptures — ‘Toy Soldier‘ and ‘Toy Angel,’ which both took months to build, and were recently displayed at Envie D’art Paris 8 Gallery’s ‘Best of the Year’ exhibition.
“The Toy Soldier was built during the Iraq war so it is as macho as possible – loaded with aircraft carrier planes, multiple pistols, walkie talkies and of course his faithful Kalashnikov, softened only a little by a Barbie camera,” says Bradford in the Mail interview. He later added, “Children are delighted by them.”
Bradford has had other, harsher critics. In his artist statement Bradford coyly states, “Some people of course just say [his recycled toy sculptures] are rubbish. Which of course is perfectly true!”