Coco Collection has announced a partnership with South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi to host a month-long residency in November 2019. Known for inventing his own method of “plastic painting”, Mbongeni will be the first artist to take up residence at Coco Bodu Hithi as part of Coco Collection’s new art programme “Nurture”.
“Nurture” will be an ongoing effort by Coco Collection to help and encourage the development of art and artists focused on environmental and wildlife conservation. By using art to educate and to raise awareness of these global issues, their goal is to contribute to the care and protection of the environment.
Mbongeni is the first of these artists to take part in “Nurture”, as he explores an unfamiliar medium by creating stunning masterpieces using a heat gun and thousands of pieces of plastic rubbish.
“I use rubbish to create something beautiful from it. I collect something that has no value and give it new life. That’s what we can do with ourselves and our lives.” - Mbongeni Buthelezi.
Mbongeni chose plastic to work with during his art school days as a way of making a statement in order to raise awareness about the plastic challenge our world is facing today, and to stand out amongst the sea of artists emerging from his local scene.
He scavenges for art supplies on the streets of Johannesburg on the way to his studio and meticulously lays strips of discarded plastic onto a canvas. This is followed by a blast from the heat gun to sculpt the plastic into gritty portraits full of texture depicting the beauty, diversity, and reality of life. Having developed this method 20 years ago, Mbongeni has since made a name for himself as one of South Africa’s most original artists and has had his work featured across the globe.
During the residency at Coco Bodu Hithi, Mbongeni will be working on a piece titled “The Children of the Sea”, depicting the culture and heritage of the Maldives and how the lives of Maldivians intertwines with the ocean. Using discarded plastic collected from the beaches of the Maldives, the finished piece will be transferred to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu for installation at the end of the residency. Mbongeni will also be installing five art pieces around the walkways of Coco Bodu Hithi, all of which will showcase the marine life of the Maldives.
As part of the residency, Coco Bodu Hithi will also be hosting an exhibition featuring a number of Mbongeni’s brilliant, captivating pieces that has been curated for the event.
In addition to the exhibition, Mbongeni is going to be leading workshops where he will be sharing his techniques and knowledge while helping attendees explore, experiment, and get in touch with their creative side. Some of the Maldives’ most notable and established artists are set to attend the workshop which will also be open for resort guests and local school children.