Stephen Garan’anga : Own Correspondent
The world over when you get a word about environmental artworks being on show somewhere you can be assured that you are in for the unimaginable. The use of various recycled materials in a bid to resuscitate fragment of wounded earth has produced some of the most astounding work like never witnessed before especially by those in the habit of elevating detritus into sculptural forms.Their incredible scope of imagination has seen mega tonnes of garbage being given new lease of life,moving from one pocket of this planet to another being re-owned and some erected in places of high esteem. Innumerable plastic bottles dumped into the seas have been retrieved, given air and sealed to create floating islands of amazing habitat.
Even on our local art scene the wide use of reborn materials has created a crop of skilful dynamic connective artists asserting their mark with imposing multi media three dimensional work.
The current “Own Your Rubbish” art exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in the capital attests to the astonishing work evolving from degenerated objects.
An exquisite “Symbolic Installation Walkway” which is a brainchild of Laurie Macpherson representing the main rubbish categories at home and globally stands tall and peacefully in the main entrance of the Gallery with an aluminium frame, elegant suspended decorations of cut-offs from bottoms of plastic bottles of your soft drinks, several wine bottles of colour rising to the dome in an arc constructional section, beautiful colourful ceiling decorated with full sized soft drink plastic bottles and VHS video cassette ribbons, cut and flattened soda cans and plastic woven sections to highlight a few.
On some of the vertical square tubes of the aluminium structure are sizable plastic discs of colour printed with statistical info on the goodness of recycling and the adverse impact of pollutants on the environment.
The info included that “Recycling half of the world’s paper will save 20 million acres of forest”, “About 75 percent of all aluminium ever made is still in use”, “That jacket you are wearing, the sleeping bag you use for camping, the fleece jacket that keeps you warm, or the carpets in your home are made from recycled PET plastic bottles”, and “In VHS” peak sales year – 2001 – there was enough video tape stock manufactured to reach from the earth to the moon more than 987 times and so on.
There are also a number of posters stuck caring various info about the positives of recycling and the negatives of pollution on the globe.
Next to the walkway installation is a wonderful functional television space titled “TV Zone” created on water tanks concept. The local common sight of giant green recycled plastic water tanks towering in backyards of many a home has been invited into the inside, vertically cut in half and placed on a corresponding flat arc shaped wooden case just under half a meter high which before bore incredible weight of optic fibre cables.
Comfortable cushions of reused materials are placed inside with enough space for two or three individuals, a 52-inch led television is propped about two meters before the triplets of split water tanks providing sheltered focus to the screen.
There is also a series of photographs by Laurie of families before their home garbage.
She shot images of eight local families across four economic demographics of high income, middle income, high density and rural. She asked them to keep two weeks’ worth of their rubbish and returned to take the images.
Art pieces in form of functional chairs created in year 2015 after the “Own Your Rubbish” project invited local artists to produce them are also on the show narrating “take me”.
They are in all shapes and sizes with some parading their latest upholstery and others in never before seen forms.
They are elegant objects that anyone can enjoy and would be happy to own even without having been acquainted even with the word art before. The creators of the chairs included Johnson Zuze who mastered “Arm Chair”, Victor Nyakauru who won the best chair prize with his “Reading Chair”, Clive Mukucha with “Pipe Dreams”, NgonidzasheTsigawith “Tyred Out”, Misheck Mare with “Seated Stripes”, Trymore Sengai with “Soleful”, Option Nyahunzvi with “Mood Blue” and Terence Musekiwa with “Free Wheeling”.
The exhibition has manifested itself into a travelling show intending to grace various venues up to year 2017. This has been necessitated by its nature to conscientise and educate many about our personal responsibility to the rubbish we generate and improve attitudes and behaviour with regard to local and global environmental issue.
The project also intends to promote artists and crafts people by showcasing their work and improving their skills, giving training on new product lines and giving them visibility and economic relief.
Continued earth’s pollution by man is taking its toll on all living organisms. Loss of human, animal and plant life through interminable diseases is on the rise, causing extinction of some spices. Emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere has contributed immensely to issues of climate change.
Catastrophic disasters of extreme climatic conditions have become the order of the day leaving life on earth uncomfortable and costly.
Arid deserts have become deserts of fire and claiming more space; ice deserts are dwindling and at times too nippy to sustain life of their habitat; torrential downpours worthy full seasonal rains are falling continuously in a matter of days triggering landslides of epic proportions that sweep away ever expansive human settlements, eradicating natural geothermal geysers of millennia and re-carving the earth.
In various parts of the world winters too have been unleashing unforgiving cold whilst on the other hand more parts have become drought and heat wave stricken causing perennial food shortages and loss of life.
Solutions to mitigate the pollution consequences should be everybody’s concern and it starts with your own recycling and cleaning up your area.