On November 13, 2019. Coco Collection unveiled its new art programme, ‘Nurture’, by hosting its first exhibition under this initiative.

South African Artist, Mbongeni Buthelezi is the first artist to take up residence at Coco Bodu Hithi. The art residency program, ‘Nurture’, focuses on the importance of the environment and wildlife conservation. Known for his unique method of painting with plastic, Mbongeni uses his artworks to engage the viewers and as a means of creating awareness on the global issue of plastic pollution.

Mbongeni started painting with plastics very early on his career due to lack of resources. Creating each piece of art involves scavenging bits of plastic and then heating it gently, layer by layer, to create beautiful collage-like pieces of art.  Not having access to paints does not in any way have to deter an aspiring artist; ‘One can go very far with very little without having money, it is how you bring different idea together and engage with the viewer.’

Using bits of plastic found on the shores of Maldives, Mbongeni has created five artworks which will be installed in the walkways of Coco Bodu Hithi illustrating the marine life of the Maldives. For the remainder of his residency, he will be working on a piece titled ‘The Children of the Sea,’ to portray the Maldivian people, their culture, and how their lives are closely connected with the ocean. In Addition to the exhibition, Mbongeni will also be conducting workshops with local schools and artists where he will share his techniques and help them explore the creative process.

Along with the commissioned pieces, Coco Bodu Hithi will host an exhibition featuring some of his previous works created in his studio in South Africa. Mbongeni carefully chose pieces showing children as they signify hope for the future. ‘As an artist, I’m trying my level best to make a small contribution and make the world notice this problem.’

This collaboration between Coco Collection and Mbongeni Buthelezi aims to not only draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution but to also spark a conversation within our communities about adopting creative and sustainable behaviours.

In addition to featuring a selection of his existing artwork at the “Nurture” exhibition, six new pieces inspired by the Maldives were unveiled at the event by the Minister of Environment, Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan and South African High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ruby Marks. These pieces reflect the natural beauty as well as the culture of the Maldives, and they will be permanently housed at Coco Bodu Hithi.