Art from Garbage–More Transformational Refuse

Some of the most astonishing art we encounter when traveling is made from garbage.  In Kenya and Tanzania, where artistic spirit runs deep and money is tight, many artists gather refuse for their materials, and the results can be stunning.  I could prattle on about how encountering such resourcefulness makes me rethink everything I throw out, everything I acquire, what I think I need, and blahbitty blah blah, but I’ll try to just let the images speak for themselves.

We love this little bicycle–it’s about six inches long, and the handlebars and pedals turn.


Tin cans are one of the primary materials for sculptural artists on the streets of East Africa.  Metal cans there tend to be painted, rather than covered with a paper label, so the sculptures  often show off colorful images of tomatoes and ingredient lists.

Sometimes the paint is burned off in the welding process, as with this bat mobile:


In Zanzibar, Tom became fascinated with the process of farming seaweed for toothpaste–the work is done mainly by women when the tide is out in the morning.  Jambiani village where we stayed is Muslim, and the women’s long skirts would float around their ankles as they worked.  One morning, Tom met this young boy, who had made a model dhow boat entirely by himself with found materials.  You can see on his face how proud he is of it, and rightfully so–it’s just beautiful.  The dhow boat we rode out to the reef was similar–hand carved, lashed together with rope and wire, and with a patchwork sail of rice bags.  Tom took this lovely, peaceful video.  Enjoy.

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