Liverpool man who loves to take pictures of abandoned couches

A Liverpool man who photographs abandoned couches says he was inspired by a poem he once came across about discarded shopping trolleys.

Paul Robinson, who lives in Toxteth, began snapping sofas on the streets around 2010 and started to take it “more seriously” about two years ago, when he launched social media accounts to document his finds.

His Twitter and Instagram accounts are dedicated not only to the city’s abandoned couches but also to discarded shopping trolleys.

Paul, a writer and masters student, says he is part of a growing global community who create art by photographing everyday objects that have been abandoned in streets all over the world, with others choosing items such as plastic spoons or discarded condoms.

Paul told the ECHO: “For me, there’s something about couches alone in the middle of the urban environment.

“I’m not there to make a judgement on them being left there, eventually they do tend to get picked up anyway.

A colourful green couch in L8
A colourful green couch in L8
(Image: Paul Robinson)

“There is an element of social commentary – we throw stuff away and it’s almost how that can be put to some new use.

“It is also about waste as well and the idea of dumping rubbish onto the street and being able to walk away from that.”

Paul has recruited some friends into his unusual hobby, with people sending him snaps of couches they find along their travels, which he also shares.

Paul said: “My favourites are the couches dumped in canals. I have a friend who works in Bootle and goes through the canal area and sends me pictures.

“They’ve said to me ‘what have you done? We’ll never see a couch in the same way again’ so they’ve got the bug now too.”

Paul says that another of his favourites turned up in a lonely spot on a beach.

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He said: “I do like the ones you find in these unusual places” although not all will meet his criteria for inclusion.

Paul said: “When I’m taking pictures of couches there is definitely in my head the question of whether that piece of furniture could fit two people comfortably. If not, I won’t take a picture.

“There was one couch I came across on wasteland in the Dingle and kids were using it to play about with. I thought there’s a fine line there – is it truly abandoned if it’s still being used?”

While adding to his collection, Paul says he has got to know the likely spots where items are abandoned.

He said: “In L8 there are a few different wastelands where things tend to get dumped.

One of Paul's favourite finds, abandoned in a canal in Bootle
One of Paul’s favourite finds, abandoned in a canal in Bootle
(Image: Paul Robinson)

He added: “I believe mostly it’s people dumping from outside the area and having a stereotype that people don’t care, when in actual fact people do.”

He plans to publish a book and also hopes to inspire others to take up his unusual pastime.

Paul said: “There are loads of found objects out there that can qualify as art, and whether as a hobby or otherwise, you can turn that into a project.

“It’s also good to celebrate the weird.”

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News