We have a real treat today – and a great challenge, too. First, let me tell you how this all came about:
I’ve recently been in contact with Janaina Matarazzo, who started the Recycled Paper project 3 years ago. The project participants are young artists from Moreomaoto, in Botswana. Their beautiful paper mache items are sold at a shop at Meno A Kwena Tented Camp & Safaris, which works as a Trust to support conservation and community projects.
This morning Janaina “introduced” me (by email) to Kabo, one of the talented artists in this group. You can see him and a paper mache elephant head he’s making below.
Here is what Kabo wrote for us:
I’m Kabo Chingapane, who like to do few things about art, but well interested to know everything about Art. I have started my Art in primary level and It was got approved in secondary. So far I do have few skills about doing art, so the main that I like to know is sculpturing, I want to know the steps, when you are doing sculpture and end up putting paper mache on It. And also I want to know uses when you apply paper mache, even to make texture on the animal. But I’m so interested off on doing wall heads of wild animals.
And, for a bit more background information, Janaina wrote this:
We from Meno A Kwena Tented Camp & Safaris Botswana, have a sustainable tourism concept and we do care a lot about wildlife conservation and do benefits the local people from tourism, so they also appreciate what they have and help us to protect and secure the future of nature and wildlife. Kabo is from the community near by camp called Moreomaoto and work for us at the Arts Studio. We encourage artist from the community to develop their skills as an artist. We do create new projects at the community considering the lifestyle they have there, no electricity, is far from town, they are basically rural areas. So arts is a great way to work with. Kabo in particular is a truly artist so I’m always really happy to encourage him to develop his arts skills for perhaps one day have better chances and opportunities in life, doing something great.
I agree that Kabo is truly an artist – his elephant head shows that he has a great understanding of the proportions and forms of this great beast. I can also relate to his desire to find new ways to create details and textures, which is difficult when working with paper strips and paste.
I sent my two books about paper mache to Janaina, and I hope that the ideas for creating armatures will be helpful to Kabo as he creates more animal wall sculptures. Unfortunately, much of the information in the books about finishing, texturing and adding details will be difficult for him and his fellow artists to implement because they don’t have the same access to materials that we do.
I know it’s possible to create lifelike details with paper strips and glue, but I’m certainly not an expert because I rely on paper mache clay for details and textures. That’s why I suggested that Kabo might get some better advice if he were to write a post for this blog – this way, he can hear suggestions from you, the many talented paper mache artists who visit this site. If you have any suggestions for Kabo that you think he could use for his paper mache animals, I know he would be very happy to hear them.
Just as a side note, I have wanted to visit Botswana for years. Now that I’ve met Janaina and Kabo, and learned about their community art program and the Safari Camp, I want to go even more. I think it is so wonderful that the Internet allows us to get to know people from so many parts of the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all afford to go visit them in person?