Think art, and rubbish like packaging and discarded mass produced items is not what immediately springs to mind.These things, though, are the medium of choice for local artist and visual merchandiser Mark Reese.

Mark takes unwanted items and turns them into something unexpected. “People are desperate for something different and if I can make them smile, like when they realise the ferris wheel on the wall is just made from an old lamp shade and packaging then I’ve achieved everything.”

Thinking outside the box is the hallmark of Mark’s pieces. “There is a project I’m working on at the moment that is made primarily from packaging from chocolate distribution and I’ll be putting the whole process on Instagram.” In the past, he has not taken many photographs because most displays are only temporary. “Things are always evolving and changing and I need to move on quickly.”

Eager to cultivate the artistic talents of others, Mark holds classes at The Prop House throughout the year, giving students an introduction to visual merchandising.

He says he has been captivated by the temporary state and illusion of film sets ever since going to watch a television show being filmed at Channel 10 when he was a child. “I was also fortunate to witness behind the scenes during a David Copperfield magic show in Las Vegas. It is definitely not what it seems.”

During the four-week course at The Prop House, Mark aims to convey an understanding and importance of creativity and resourcefulness. “I meet the most wonderful and talented people even though some may not realise it yet.” At the end of the course, the group designs, makes and installs the next window display for The Prop House. “The whole process is always exciting for me.”

A permanent though everchanging display of Mark’s pieces is housed in West End’s Lift café and the function space Bobby’s next door. Mark and his partner Jonathon opened Lift café more than three years ago.

“The installations at Lift and Bobby’s just evolve but I do try to link them together in some way. There is a story in there somewhere.” More than just a business, the café and its patrons have proved a source of inspiration. “We have met the most wonderful, generous people. They have also become valued friends who have invited Jonathon and I into their lives.”

More broadly, the 4101 provides plenty of food for Mark’s imagination. “Living in this district in my favourite city in the world is always inspiring and joyous,” he said. “I love hearing the different languages and accents. There are so many people from every country in the world who have visited and decided to live here.” On the weekend, Mark enjoys wandering around Mappins, and a 6am BLT at the Saturday Davies Park markets. Washed down, of course, with a cup of the perfect coffee from Lift, he says. And he enjoys exploring West End’s cultural precinct. “I could live in the finch installation currently at GOMA. It’s magic.”