Now when I look back on how I went from being an illustrator and graphic designer to actually ended up upcycling (which still puzzles me), I found that there were plenty of moments in my life when this little seed could be planted inside of me.
Back then in London where I lived for a couple of years, I visited this disturbing but very interesting exhibition of Gerard Quenum entitled “Dolls never Die.” The works included various parts of dolls which have been recycled twice… As donated hand me downs from European children to African children and again to be used to play their unique part in the installations Quenum cleverly constructed.
Born in Porto Novo, Benin in 1971, Gerard Quenum is a unique sculptural artist who creates his hauntingly beautiful pieces using recycled, found objects. His work grabs and holds the attention and it is as thought provoking as it is beautiful and mysterious. The objects he creates serve as portraits of people and things he observes in his surroundings. Each comes with its own embedded history and serve as a “lens through which we view Africa.”
Gérard Quenum, has brought a whole new meaning to old, torn, and discarded dolls. He makes them live again. “I love the dolls,” he says. “I don’t make them just in order to sell them. I create them because this is something that comes from within me.”
What are these indignities, these cruelties embodied in Quenum’s dolls? They are his protest, his revolt, his pain at the injustices inflicted on children throughout the world, and most especially in Africa.
You can read an interesting interview with Gerard Quenum on newafricanmagazine.com