Coco Bodu Hithi, on November 13, launched its Nurture art program with an exhibition by prominent South African artist, Mbongeni Buthelezi, who is reputed for inventing his own method of 'plastic painting'.
Minister of Environment Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan and South African High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ruby Marks unveiled the exhibition, which consisted of six new pieces inspired by Maldives and a selection of Buthelezi's existing artwork.
The pieces reflecting the beauty and culture of Maldives will be permanently displayed at Coco Bodu Hithi.
Following the unveiling of the artwork, Buthelezi spoke about his sources of inspiration for his creative process.
“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”, stated Buthelezi.
The artist also demonstrated his method of plastic painting to the attendees and offered them the opportunity to attempt the technique.
During his one-month residency at Coco Bodu Hithi, Buthelezi is scheduled to lead workshops, demonstrating his methods and helping participants explore, experiment and get in touch with their creative side.
Buthelezi is also working on a piece titled "The Children of the Sea”, depicting how the lives of Maldivians intertwine with the ocean, using discarded plastic collected from the country's beaches. The finished artwork will be transferred to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu in Baa Atoll for installation.
Coco Collection's collaboration with Buthelezi is intended to highlight the dangers of plastic pollution and initiate dialogue within the community on adopting creative and sustainable methods.
Born in Kwazulu-Natal and raised in Springs, Buthelezi revealed that his art style also reflected his rural upbringing. After finishing studies at Funda Centre, he completed a teacher training programme at the Johannesburg Art Festival Foundation in 1998. Buthelezi then participated in the Standard Bank Art Festival as a guest artist and went on to graduate from Witwatersrand with an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts.
Buthelezi collects plastic waste of a certain quality and uses watercolours and a heat gun to melt it onto a thick, roofing-plastic surface. While his unique paintings are often larger than life, Buthelezi favours an impastos technique which allows for great detail.
The Nurture art program will be an ongoing effort by Coco Collection to encourage the development of art and artists dedicated to environmental and wildlife protection. Coco Collection's overall goal is to contribute to conservation efforts by using art to educate and raise awareness.