Marimirofa transforms garbage into stunning artworks

One of these innovative minds is Ishmael Marimirofa, an artist focusing on mixed media at his home in Mandara, Harare

IN the midst of environmental challenges such as land pollution, there is potential for innovation, beauty and positive change. Artists have emerged as advocates for a cleaner and safer environment by transforming garbage and discarded material into beautiful artworks.

One of these innovative minds is Ishmael Marimirofa, an artist focusing on mixed media at his home in Mandara, Harare. He uses plastic bottles, empty cans, timber and other metals to transform them into different artworks.

NewsDay Weekender Life & Style caught up with the artist who shared his journey of transforming trash into stunning artworks and his vision for a cleaner environment, among other things.

The idea of transforming garbage into art

During my days at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, I would get bored when it was time for art of found objects (trash). I just did the lectures for the sake of it being part of my course, otherwise I never understood why it was necessary for me to do that. I just wanted to draw and paint.

It came to pass and I graduated from college, then I began to work on a number of pieces, but I was not happy with my work. I found happiness later when I attended a cleanup campaign in 2019. That was when I realised why art of found objects was necessary.

I was hit by a nostalgic feeling of my early years when we would hop from one bin to another searching for garbage material to make toys.

I took advantage of the current situation of a filthy environment and decided to make my art pieces using objects that are creating litter just like what others were doing, but with a little difference.

When it comes to working with trash, unlike the usual norm that vision comes first before you choose what material to use, my creative mind is triggered by trash. Garbage triggers my vision.

Trash art enhances environment

It feels good to be in a clean environment, but my creativity through what is considered trash enhances the environment. People can clean their environments by throwing out trash, but they forget that trash thrown away also pollutes another environment — I call that selfishness. So in short, I can say clean, create and enhance your environment with the garbage and give more meaning to beauty and aesthetics of the environment.

Viewers’ feedback

My work aims to create a clean environment for society by making use of discarded objects. My main objective is to create a clean environment to make the world see and appreciate art made out of garbage.

I have realised an honest opinion about my artwork is given by those who do not know or have never met me. I utilise social media platforms such as Facebook to post pictures of my artworks. The feedback I get from viewers is encouraging and triggers mixed emotions. I was shocked by the response viewers had on two of my pieces titled Energy Crisis and Drum Beat.

Challenging notions of beauty and aesthetics

Incorporating some found objects in my work, be it painting or installation, creates beautiful pieces and it allows the viewer to interact with the pieces with pleasure. Most of the material used is cost effective so that an artist who is creative can produce a masterpiece.

For instance, in most of my pieces I use debris (timber, nails and wire) from construction sites and from some empty aerosol canisters, cans and discarded household items. The fusion of the above with paint is amazing.

Notable creations from garbage

I have created several pieces and managed to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery in Bulawayo from October to December 2023 and feedback from the viewer's comment book was very motivational.

My piece titled Energy Crisis depicts a man transporting timber on his bicycle which the people of our country can relate to, although it was inspired by what I saw in Zambia, where charcoal business seems to be lucrative at the same time promoting deforestation. The piece portrays a man making money out of charcoal.

Another piece What Did You Walk For was motivated by what the world has become. The artwork is a portrayal of the end of our lives, what our feet walked for the entire life round the clock.

Investing into Eternity is a piece that portrays how people are so obsessed by earthly possessions and end up forgetting that all is vanity and shall come to pass. So the wise know where to invest.

I also did a project for the Environmental Management Agency for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in 2022, in a piece that discouraged plastic usage.

Message to creatives

I wish to inspire the younger generation through art workshops to enlighten them on how we can make a living with less expenses. People need to survive through their professions, but as an artist, an inspirational push should surpass financial concerns, because working through inspiration yields better results.

I am convinced that if people work together, our environment will be a better place and at the same time make us earn a better living.

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