January-March 2017

One day while at college I made a cerebus (3-headed dog) using teenie beanie babies by cutting them apart and sewing their heads together. This was part of the theme I was to work with at college, 'hybrid'. To avoid the most heinous of crimes (wasting beanie babie parts) I used the leftover dog butts by sewing them together. And it was at this moment that buttbutt entered our world.

After the initial buttbutt, I made a number of variations. The main buttbutt was made from dogs similar to the original, proportionally very similar to a standard beanie baby.

The buttbutts seemed to become one of a series of works involving beanie babies. They are a very versatile material to use, but also have strong personal connotations. I used to collect beanie babies, and they can be seen as the embodiment of ‘children’s toys vs collector’s items’. One idea that sprung from buttbutt was filling the beanie babies with plaster.

This was a difficult process where I cut a small slit in the beanie, took all the beans out, then filled them up again through a funnel. The first few beanie babies ended up with plaster all over them, but with a better funnel and my mother’s help I was able to create some very effective works. The natural wrinkles of the beanie’s fabric were very fascinating when hardened under the plaster, and it allowed me to pose the beanies in unusual positions. When the plaster dried, the beanies got warm and moist, it felt almost alive and was a feeling I wish I could have captures for more than a few minutes.

At one point I decided to run over one of the beanie babies with a car. The inspiration for this was that many of the lying down beanie babies are referred to as ‘roadkill’, and these are my favourite kinds of beanies. The dirt on the tyres tracked onto the beanie but sadly the shape wasn’t imprinted as well as I hoped – after the dirt dried and came off it just looked like a flat beanie. Fortunately I got a few good photos before that happened.

‘Three Wise Beanies’ depicts the beanies as the three wise monkeys; ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’, which is a proverb that basically means not to spread or do bad deeds. I chose this because it would best show off the beanies in unnatural positions with the help of the plaster, but also because I thought the meaning of the phrase clashed nicely with the cute pink bears. I briefly considered including the fourth monkey with his genitals crossed, but I didn’t have enough beanies.

Returning to the buttbutts, I started to develop them into a sort of race, and a world for them to inhabit. I found myself influenced by mass merchandising, specifically when a show was created specifically to sell a certain toy line. The buttbutts got their own language and culture, most of which I recorded in my sketchbook (which I called ‘The Book of Buttbutt’).

A few short animations of buttbutt were also made, mostly to depict how they walked and moved. By the way, they don’t bark, and they can’t see: they have sensors on their butt that allow them to pick up the vibrations from tail wags and farts from other dogs.

In June 2017 I was given the opportunity to display my work at the end of year show for the college. I set up a stall that featured buttbutt alongside most of the other toy-related works, being sold for outrageous prices (after all, these were exclusive and expensive collector’s items!)

Buttbutt started as a silly joke and idea, and subconsciously evolved into a mockery of the commercial world of merchandising and children’s toys. I feel like I could’ve done more with buttbutt to try and establish it as a solid ‘thing’ rather than just an idea that was played around with in various ways. Looking back, however, I think I accomplished the main thing I set out to do with buttbutt.

I made people laugh.