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Home Canadian News Doctor-turned-artist makes house into playful art using thousands of toys

Doctor-turned-artist makes house into playful art using thousands of toys


This time of year in New Brunswick isn’t known for being colourful.  The grass is mostly light brown, and trees and bushes are just beginning to grow tiny buds.

But, take a drive through a quiet downtown neighbourhood in Fredericton and you’ll be greeted with a riot of colour from Brian MacKinnon’s latest art exhibition, which is on display — on his house.

The retired family doctor still works part-time as a physician, but spends his down time as a visual artist. For his latest project, melted toys are his chosen medium. Thousands of them, fixed to panels, and now adorning the windows as shutters on his charcoal grey home off Waterloo Row. 

“So far people have been laughing and being very surprised,” MacKinnon said, adding that he’s been enjoying the reactions of people so far. 

The pop of colour on this quiet side street can be seen from the main road — and it’s enough to cause drivers and pedestrians to take a detour to get closer.

Brian MacKinnon replaced six shutters on the front of his house with children’s toys that he melted together. (Gary Moore/CBC)

MacKinnon’s latest labour of love was kept a secret from his neighbours until it was revealed last weekend. 

“I like the element of surprise in art,” he said, adding that his neighbour have been very supportive of his work.

MacKinnon said he chose only contemporary toys and specifically picked toys with bright colours. There are blues, reds, greens, oranges and yellows… squirt guns, bubble-blowing pipes, beach rakes, toy electric drills… you name it, you can probably find it. After all, there’s about 6,000 of them.

He has no personal attachment to the toys he used, but he hopes people who pass his house to view the art will make a personal connection of their own.

This Fredericton artist wanted to add colour to his neighbourhood, so he replaced his window shutters with toys — more than 6,000 of them. 2:20

“I hope people can have their own fun, and their own memories from finding some of the toys, which some of the neighborhood kids have done.”

MacKinnon said putting his art outdoors in a public viewing area brings a new perspective for people coming to see the work. And, part of what he wanted to do in this case was take art away from a gallery setting. 

MacKinnon said he picked the toys based on shape, size and colour. (Gary Moore/CBC)

“People can see them from their car, they can be walking by, they can laugh at them and do what they want — but nobody’s telling them how to think.”

MacKinnon lives on a flood plain, and said this work is his way of celebrating that, so far, the spring has been relatively flood-free. 

“And it’s the dullest visual time of year — probably this week, and I really wanted to burst forth with this colour.”

MacKinnon said he doesn’t know how long he’ll leave the display up, but he hopes all this colour will bring people onto his street. 



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