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Upcycled Artillery Serves as Furniture


Image source: Image Source: www.jackbellgallery.com

In Mozambique, a country still recovering from a lengthy civil war, artist Gonçalo Mabunda has used weapons to fashion sculptures. Merging the concepts of peace and green design, Mabunda’s pieces include tribal masks and sculptural thrones, all with a distinctive style that appear to draw from modernist abstractions and traditional African art. They are almost confrontational in their appearance, weighted not only by their density but amassed with the violent history that steeps the very materials used to create them.


Image source: Image Source: http://www.jackbellgallery.com

Born in 1975 in Maputo, Mozambique, Mabunda emerged at birth the same year his country had reached the end of their War of Independence. A mere two years later the Mozambican Civil War broke out. It is easy to assume the profound influence these wars would have on his work. After training in Mozambique and South Africa, Mabunda became a full-time artist in 1997. The artillery used to create his sculptures were recovered in 1992, after the sixteen-year war ended.

The weapons had been collected and dismantled to help assuage the fears of another violent outbreak. Thus, the longing for peace and a stable government is prevalent throughout the collection. The construction of the pieces, meanwhile, are in themselves resourceful. By utilizing these materials and up-cycling them, what had been laid to waste as objects of mass destruction now serve as a reminder to the country’s turbulent history. They also inspire the promise for non-violent unity. All the while showcasing sustainable design.

Though they could be considered primarily sculptural works, the exhibit pieces tend to assume to form of both masks and furniture, with indications of their origins vividly detectable. Whether the furniture is functional has yet to be ascertained.


Mabunda’s collection recently finished a near month-long showing at Jack Bell Gallery in St. James’s, London. This marks his second solo exhibition with the gallery.

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