‘Plastic painting’ with Mbongeni Buthelezi at Coco Collection’s resorts

Coco Bodu Hithi has welcomed South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi for a month-long residency.

Known for inventing his own method of “plastic painting”, Mbongeni is the first artist to take up residence as part of Coco Collection’s new art programme, “Nurture”.

“Nurture” will be an ongoing effort by Coco Collection to help and encourage the development of art and artists focused on environmental and wildlife conservation. By using art to educate and raise awareness of these global issues, Coco Collection’s goal is to contribute to the care and protection of the environment around.

Mbongeni is the first artist to initiate this series, as he explores an unfamiliar medium by creating stunning masterpieces using a heat gun and thousands of pieces of plastic rubbish.

“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,” Mbongeni said.

Mbongeni chose plastic to work with during his art school days as a way of making a statement in order to raise awareness about the plastic challenge our world is facing today and to stand out amongst the sea of artists emerging from his local scene.

He scavenges for art supplies on the streets of Johannesburg on the way to his studio and meticulously lays strips of discarded plastic onto a canvas. This is followed by a blast from the heat gun to sculpt the plastic into gritty portraits full of texture depicting the beauty, diversity, and reality of life.

Having developed this method 20 years ago, Mbongeni has since made a name for himself as one of South Africa’s most original artists having his work featured across the globe.

During the residency at Coco Bodu Hithi, Mbongeni will be working on a piece titled, “The Children of the Sea”, depicting the culture and heritage of the Maldives and how the lives of Maldivians intertwines with the ocean. The finished piece will be transferred to sister resort Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu for installation at the end of the residency.

Mbongeni will also be installing five art pieces around the walkways of Coco Bodu Hithi, all of which will showcase the marine life of the Maldives.

As part of the residency, Coco Bodu Hithi will also be hosting an exhibition featuring a number of Mbongeni’s brilliant, captivating pieces that has been curated for the event.

In addition to the exhibition, Mbongeni will be leading workshops where he will be sharing his techniques and knowledge while helping attendees explore, experiment, and get in touch with their creative side. Some of the Maldives’ most notable and established artists are set to attend the workshop, which will also be open for resort guests and local school children.

Two islands — Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu — comprise the Coco Collection brand.

Coco Bodu Hithi, the flagship property in Coco Collection’s portfolio, is a chic retreat where you reconnect with yourself, your loved ones and the wonder of the natural world. Translating island life into contemporary sophistication, the resort, which is accessible by a 40-minute speedboat ride from the main Velana International Airport, offers 100 villas that are surrounded by the calm view of the lagoon and the soothing sound of the waves.

With seven restaurants and bars, Coco Bodu Hithi celebrates and offers a variety of exquisite cuisines, taking inspiration from the Maldives and further afield.

An award-winning wellness zone on stilts over the clear water, Coco Spa is a sanctuary for the soul. Mindful of the healing properties of nature and the ocean, the spa is designed to retreat for an escape, whether a massage in one of the eight treatment rooms or yoga on the pavilion overlooking the ocean and beach. With a range of products from the Paris label Thémaé combining the healing properties of tea, therapists at Coco Spa are trained in techniques to treat the mind, body and soul. An overwater gym within the zone inspires guests to keep up with their regime of active well ness when away on a holiday.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is dedicated to the inspiring beauty and natural wonder of the Maldives. Here, environmentally-conscious touches are woven into luxurious natural surroundings and initiatives contribute to the environmental and social sustainability of Maldives.

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