Kenyan artist uses broken scissors and wooden spoons to make art

August 31, 2018 - Anchal Chaturvedi

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In a room that is both home and studio, Evans Ngure works on a sculpture, a fantastical fish fabricated from found objects: wooden spoons, broken scissors and an old machete. Long before upcycling became a hipster mantra, Ngure turned his Nairobi apartment into a workshop, and junk into art, his choice of artistic expression echoing a necessary developing world culture of re-use.

 

After trying his hand at painting and graphic design, Ngure became a “junk artist” as an act of reciprocity and community. “My goal is to have an impact on society, from the ground where I live to everybody that comes in contact with my art,” he says.

Sometimes he forages for raw materials himself, sometimes his neighbours bring him items, sometimes buyers hand over bits and pieces. People “end up seeing my work, they relate to it, so they take part by giving me stuff that I can use,” he says.

Give things a second chance

Determined by the random chance of what Ngure finds, his sculptures have a sometimes surreal style. “All my life I have been that kid that loves collecting stuff but it never blossomed until I went to campus where we started creating artwork from unconventional materials,” says Ngure, who studied painting at Nairobi’s Kenyatta University.

“I started adding things into my paintings, like buttons and cutouts from clothes, so that evolved into full collages entirely made from found objects.” As an example, he reaches for a peacock, its body made entirely from strips of old leather belts with cutlery for a train. Recycling has become such a core element of Ngure’s life and work that he can’t but anthropomorphise the components of his art.

“It is not only people that need second chances but also objects that cannot speak for themselves, they need that second chance: before you trash them, just re-think about them,” he says. The artist also wants to raise awareness about the protection of wildlife by making collages representing animals such as butterflies or ladybugs which he exhibited, with other works, at the British Institute a few months ago.

Anchal Chaturvedi

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