Artists at Shandaipamwe Art and Craft Centre in Avondale have adopted the recycling of cans, wire, paper, and PET bottles to come up with beautiful artefacts.
The recycling art gallery is situated near the Avondale Stream at Avondale shops, and its main structure is distinctive because the roof is made from metal tiles recycled from empty cans. The project of using waste to create art pieces was started in 2013 by veteran artist Stuart Mutongwiza, the senior artist at the centre.
“This project is a co-operative, and we teach others who wish to learn how to create art using material that is regarded as waste by others. I designed this can-tiled roof after our thatched shade was gutted by fire, and from there on I realised that waste could be used for art as well,” said Mutongwiza.
Some of the artefacts that are made at the centre using waste material include lampshades manufactured from cans and wire, toys, animal sculptures, paper mache items, and picture frames. Mutongwiza said that he has always been into recycling but only became serious about the subject a few years ago.
“Recycling has always been part of our lives, but people were not really aware of it. When kids make cars from old wire, that is recycling, and when people make maheu from left over sadza that is also recycling. So I think if everyone could be involved in recycling at a small scale that would mean less pollution in the environment,” explained Mutong-wiza.
The veteran artist explained that besides making artefacts from waste, the art centre is also a waste collection point. Residents and companies can bring their garbage here and the artists will separate and sort it and sell it to recycling companies thereby earning some extra income.
“We have also started collecting waste for resale, but we have not yet managed to find buyers for our waste such as plastics, papers and bottles. We have heard of some companies who buy the waste and teach us to sort it, but we are still to approach them,” narrated Mutongwiza.
Mutongwiza revealed that the arts centre is currently receiving help from Environment Africa in its recycling project. He said that like other artists in the country the waste recy-cling artists were also facing financial problems, due to a lack of buyers. “Art is very expensive and time consuming to produce, but the current situation is forcing artists to sell their art at below market prices. We are selling some of the art pieces for as little as $5. It is now a matter of survival in these hard times and we are appealing for financial help to make our project grow,” added the 61 year old artist.
As a parting shot Mutongwiza said that his dream is to create more art centres where recycling can be taught to school leavers, upcoming artists, and those who are unem-ployed and would like to pursue a creative livelihood.
“It is important to teach others as this will transfer information and skills about recycling to the younger generation thereby helping to keep our environment cool,” concluded Mutongwiza.